Monday, June 6, 2011

6/4 - 6/5 My retreat wihin a retreat

Over the weekend, our group went to a retreat at the Norbertine retreat center in Albuquerque, a retreat within our summer intern retreat. I came back with my head floating because it was no longer weighed down with thoughts. The helium is wearing off, returning, wearing off in my normal life, but more of it remains than was their before.

We learned about contemplative posture and were reminded of conscious love - when you are aware that your relationships with other people (and also anything else - earth, job, animals) are about waking eachother up spiritually. What if we all could enter into our relationships with this idea of soulwork in mind? What would a romantic partnership be like? What would the earth be like then? - seeing every relationship as a path to transformation. Part of the work is that constant emptying out. Embracing relationship as a path to accelerating awareness.

Kinosis, we learned, is the name for letting go of knowledge, of being present in the heart more than in the mind.

Acedia, we learned, is the desease in our culture. It means apathy, negligence, absence of care. Not going deeply, Lack of inspiration.
Business often keeps our culture asleep, even as being busy is rewarded in our culture. I should know this. That is why, in my busy travels, I kept my travel blog, because it made me stop and process and reflect deeper on what I was experiencing. That is also why I enjoyed taking photos, again that helps me look closer, especially when I practice contemplative photography. But admittedly, traveling is an escape for me sometimes. A way of staying busy and having so much fun that I can become disconnected. Yet, at the same time, traveling can bring me back into the present because I am so in the moment and can hardly be otherwise. I don't want to be anywhere else, say, when I'm wandering around the streets of Barcelona for the first time, or having an outstanding conversation with a couchsurfer in Poland who seems like a friend from another life.

What combats acedia? For me:
- going for walks and being in nature
- journaling, working on a practice like meditation or writing in a blog or visual image-making
- being grateful and writing down what I am grateful for
- being around babies or animals
- slowing my life down
- getting rid of things I own and limiting what I consume
- yoga
- taking time to notice the everyday

Acedia is the opposite of conscious loving.

What combats acedia for you?

We learned about contemplative practice.
"Contemplative Practice makes it possible for us to do the work we want to do in the world"
This is so true. I know I need to be in this mindset when designing so the work can come from that place. The practice will also "cultivate an inner authority that does not have to be approved by an outer authority"

One's intention, in any action/thought etc. is the most important part.We were asked to think of what our intention would be by the end of the summer for this experience. We were given a colored piece of fabric to make the image for this intention, which would make up our group prayer flag.

During sit, the thought came, what was my intention? I saw in my mind a flock of birds in a V and thought, my intention is to be more present to others when I am with them, like those birds who know intuitively when to give the leader a rest and when to drop back to let someone else take the lead. And my intention is to come out of this internship with a greater capacity to love - this is my overall intention for life and, what I believe, the underlying core of being a spirit in a human body, is. My image that I drew on the prayerflag is of a heart with a flock of birds in a V flying along the V of the heart. And the heart is radiating light from its edges and it is filled with uncluttered space within.

5/31/11 Arrival to The Center for Action and Contemplation

I arrived late to my internship at the Center for Action and Contemplation because my plane was canceled in Chicago, coming all the way from Warsaw from the Polish wedding - the end to 10 weeks of traveling. I met a women in line at the airport who let me sleep at her home. She had an infant and a husband. And she brought me back to the airport at 5am the next morning. She was my angel that night and I will repay her favor to someone else in that situation sometime.

When I arrived at the CAC and met my fellow interns, they told me they'd had a prayer for my safe arrival that night and I'm sure that aided in my rescue from the airport floor or an expensive last minute hotel.

Its funny how wonderful stories and sharing happen with people on planes. I'm reminded of my friend Diana's story to me a year ago or so about a military man she sat next to on the plane. He was headed back to the battle fields for the 4th time, leaving a family behind. He just needed someone to talk to and she was present to his thoughts. He put her life in perspective.

On the next mornings flight from Chicago to Atlanta (talk about round-about trip back to Albuquerque), I sat next to a really cool girl my own age who was so open and interested in my couchsurfing experiences and time in Guatemala. At the end, she paid me a very wonderful complement by saying that she felt she had learned so much from sitting next to me and I had opened her mind.

Now, I'm in the process of unwinding my tightly coiled springs from the travels, from keeping track of schedules, from being stimulated by beautiful things and new people, and from protecting myself from painful or potentially harmful situations. Also I'm realizing now, from painful thoughts. Now, I'm in the process, this whole summer, of working on a contemplative mindset. Of being present. Of not ignoring painful things, but learning how to sit with them and let them teach me. Now, I'm learning how to do all this with a room mate and 6 other journiers sharing a house. Now, I'm meditating 20 minutes, twice a day, with this group. Already, a tremendous bond between us is forming.

The group is very very diverse. And I am grateful for its maturity. I am the youngest at 28. M. is 29 and the only male. T, C, K and CH are all between 45-49. R is 74 years old. 3 in the group are gay. 2 currently live in Australia. 1 is contemplating being a priest. 1 is half Maori, the indigenous group from New Zealand. 3 are members of AA, though all have been sober for at least 3 years. 1 is a nun. 1 is a mother. 5 play musical instruments or sing. 4 have been to New Mexico before and 3, including myself are in love with it! None of the labels matter.

6/3/11 Contemplative sits and Gratitude


I usually sit kneeling on a pillow because otherwise my legs and feet will fall asleep. This week,
I’ve had a little bit of a cold to contend with, which seems to bother me more at sits. I am always
more present in the mornings. I feel more connected then and it’s a great way to start the day.
Friday morning was especially lovely. The animals had been singing since before dawn and I got
to go for a nice walk beforehand. This always quiets my mind. I liked how Alisha read a passage
and we all said a word from the passage we resonated with. And then we said what the
passage’s message or calling to us was. For me, the message was not to resist when times are
hard or sorrowful. I have been quite accepting of myself when my mind does wander because
that is simply what is happening and maybe I just need to let the thoughts happen in order to
clear them out. Again, the more resistant I am, the longer they last. The more I am able to focus
on feeling something in my heart, the faster my mind becomes quiet. The afternoon sits are
always more challenging for me since my mind is stimulated by what has happened during the
day and I am more tired. I know I will be eating and getting out for a walk and taking a nap
afterwards (whereas I have already done these things before the morning sit), so there is also
anticipation involved.

‐ I love and appreciate the other interns so much. The welcome and prayer when I arrived late
(I’m sure it helped me be rescued from the airport floor by that kind women in Chicago). Their
wisdom and maturity.
‐ I am grateful to be living in a beautiful, peaceful environment. The Rio Grande being so close a
walk away.
‐ I am grateful for all the work and care that has gone into making this internship program for us,
our schedule, orientation, work and room mate assignments.
‐ I am grateful for the kindness and vulnerability of the other interns, which makes it easier for
me to be so in return.
‐ I am grateful for the start‐off food in the cupboards and Peter & Joel’s delicious meal on
‐ I am grateful to Cat, Cathy and Theresa for inviting me to observe my first AA meeting with
them and for the incredibly touching experience it was. I had no idea it would be so spiritual
with a meditation and sharing which also helped prepare me for our group sharing experience.