This weekend I participated in a residential retreat with the sangha I belong to for meditating and practicing Zen Buddhism in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Just in case you are wondering, I consider myself a Christian Buddhist. Christianity is a religion, Buddhism is a practice.
At any rate, the past two full days and two half days were remarkable and ran the gamut of emotions for myself as well as the others that were in attendance. This was a residential retreat, so that meant noble silence (yes, me, silent as I could be), eating mindfully (not fast as usual) and listening to thought provoking dharma talks by Dharmacharya Michael Ciborski.
When one learns age old lessons brought to the present by venerable teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Michael Ciborski, it is striking at how simple life can be. Yet we make our lives so difficult by so many different ways. Why do we permit negative circumstances to open our door and enter? You know what? It really is difficult to not open that door or to just say no unless you have the right tools. Old habit energies take a great deal of work to rid yourself of. I have learned to use the tools that help me look at circumstances with understanding the situation. Those tools have truly helped me overcome the negativity that made an attempt to enter that door. It still was not easy but each time, the feeling was liberating.
The past four months have been a roller coaster for me after Paul died. I realized this weekend I have a great deal more tears to shed. This retreat was one that Paul and I had planned to attend together; we were looking forward to it. I was nervous to show up, but overcame my fear because I was looking forward to the retreat. In the long run, the teachings I listened to and others I listened to in discussion groups opened up my heart in ways I had no yet found until now. At one point, I went in to the zendo room and picked up a framed photo of Paul that we had at our “ancestor” table. As I sat down, I held it and wept silently to the point of almost falling over. I had not cried like that in months.
Where I am going with this? For one thing, this retreat was just like medicine for me. I acknowledged that I do need my sangha community for my practice and for their brotherhood and sisterhood. I have been in a shell in my space and not really, truly come out as of late. I need to practice my readings because they give me joy and peace, and that is Buddhist teachings as well as Christian teachings. They both hold comfort for me at the present.
Grief cannot be put in a box and defined. But I sure can tell you that it takes a village, a community, your family and friends to help you heal. Open the door to those folks. Close the door on those that do not give back. I will take those long, loving hugs any day of any week.
#grief #learning #healing