Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vegetarian Food

New news: I have a new teacher. I like him for lots of reasons. He has a really great story about holding his baby godson, all of a sudden wanting a chocolate chip cookie, and in his haste to get the cookie, setting his godson down on a pile of laundry, which then tips over. If that doesn't sound hilarious to you, imagine yourself hearing it while doing nothing for a week but practicing silence and a particular meditation technique called "mindfulness." It was one of the 3 stories I heard in 6 days, a.k.a., one of the best stories I've ever heard in my life.

On the last official day of my retreat, the three teachers started to "integrate" us back into the world of communicating. One of the teachers warned us that talking again could feel very exhilarating. He then cautioned us against going home and telling our partners, parents, or friends every single detail about every single thing that happened.

The strangest part for me about coming home, was how FAST I got back. I had felt VERY far away for a VERY long time. At 10 am on Monday morning, I left the extremely secluded ranch where I had been staying, drove for only an hour and twenty minutes and was back in my apartment. Nervousness consumed me as I realized I could do anything, call anyone, ride bikes, watch movies, check my email, jet ski, whatever. I sat back down to meditate before making any sudden moves.

Eventually I called my dad. We talked for a while about the details of the retreat and he asked me a great question: Did they have vegetarian food? My dad is always good for a good question, he's genuinely interested and I know I am lucky to have such a dad. Losing all contact with my new best friends, my body and my breath: I launched into a treatise about how I'm not that weird. I spoke fervently about how many of us who are deeply interested in things like enlightenment are vegetarians, and, as a matter of fact, there was ONLY vegetarian food there. During my outburst I was marching around my apartment, futzing with the broom, and then, I leaned over the sink to wash my hands. Old news: I am afraid of getting something in my eye. The soap dispenser in my bathroom had caked in such a way from lack of use over the past week that pumping it once with my left hand caused all of the soap to land in my right eye. I had to hang up with my dad. And then, I had to cry and cry and cry and cry. A week's ardent practice had left me in a place where I did not attach to the pain in my eye. I deeply felt the "nothing lasts forever" of my situation, but the moment to moment investigation of the pain left me with lots more tears to cry.

My eye is still a little red, and I am so happy to be home. I know more deeply now how much I love my life. That deep joy continues to mix with sadness, and it feels good to watch it rise. It also feels good to have my very own "all of a sudden wanting a chocolate chip cookie" story.

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