A little over 24 hours after arriving back home, I'm almost back to whatever passes for normal in my world. Almost, but not quite. Nothing serious -- just wiped out and sleep deprived. And I've had errands and laundry to do today, including washing the messenger bag I carry daily, my wallet and my sitting cushion all together in a separate load. The first two items had been the victim of a leaky ink pen (got all over my hands in the market today), the latter just in general need.
I'm glad to be home. That may be an understatement, actually. I'm really, really, glad to be home. The 10-day torture test lived up to its billing, but the torture this time was mental, rather than physical. My body held up remarkably well. But boredom set in early, as did frustration with a teacher who was overly strict about her flock walking out in the sunshine when they were supposed to be meditating. Imagine that! Her assistant hit me one day, told me to go either into the meditation hall or my room and meditate. Afterwards, I found that I certainly wasn't the only one. I called her the meditation police, one other woman called her the kommandant. The latter seems more fitting.
So -- since I had to be cooped up in my room much of the day, outside the allowed hours of personal time and required hours in the meditation hall, frustration and boredom reigned supreme. But, the overriding teaching of this course is that we should 'remain equanimous' in all situations, whatever life brings us. So, the last few days gave me an excellent opportunity to practice the art of remaining equanimous regardless of frustration and boredom. That's never a bad thing, really.
Aside from all this, there was much to appreciate about my time there. The views of Mt. Rainier are always awesome, whether it's shining in the sun or playing peekaboo with clouds and mist. One of the best parts of the day was walking in the field after breakfast -- which fell around 6:30 just as the sky was lightening up for the day. From the field, we could watch the sun rise over the Cascades as we walked. Some mornings were clear, with spectacularly brilliant oranges and pinks reflecting on long strands and layers of tiny puffy clouds amidst the blue. Other mornings were misty and ethereal, the colors more muted, the other women in the field turned into fuzzy silhouettes against the pinking sky, the brightness of the sun as it crested the mountains. Most mornings I longed for a camera. Big spider webs dripping with rain or mist. Photographs waiting to happen.
There were also deer in the fields. Two families, from what we saw. Two does, 3 fawns. One day just as we sat down for lunch overlooking the field, the deer were up close to the developed part of the property and the fawns started playing, chasing one another around in circles, across the field and more circles, up the hill and onto the mowed area around the residence hall, all over the place. The smaller of the does was also in this play time. For people who dwelt in silence, with no outside entertainment, this was awesomely fun and sweet to watch. I've spent a lot of time out in nature, but this is the first time I've ever seen deer at play.
Another morning, a doe and two fawns were in the field where we were walking with the sunrise, grazing peacefully in the higher weeds as we walked in the mowed paths through the misty darkness. They saw us, but had no fear. Another morning, around 8am as we were headed to the meditation hall, these same deer were grazing up in our midst, right around the entrance to the hall. One of the women was inside looking out, while the rest of us watched from a discreet distance as a curious fawn walked over boards and concrete up the glass doors and peeked inside. Something -- perhaps his reflection -- startled him and he jumped away, slipping on the wet boards causing a loud clatter with his little hoofs. No harm done -- they eventually moved away and we moved on into the hall for morning meditation.
There was more -- mostly nature-inspired, but these are the things that come to mind at the moment. We had warm sunshine, misty fogs, a day of stormy rain and wind, but not particularly cold and never really unpleasant. Food was good -- although my body is already happy to be back with a familiar diet, and so is my mind. I don't know what it is about the food in these centers, but the last two times I've been, in wildly varying parts of the country, I've been plagued with uncomfortable bloating and gas and elimination systems that almost completely shut down. That's gone, now that my diet changed -- and it changed around 7:30 yesterday morning when I stopped at the first McDonalds down the southern pike of I-5 and had a large coffee and an egg mcmuffin. I inhaled both! Pizza and beer for lunch made the transformation complete. Today, back to healthy diet food.
So -- long story short. I'm still really tired and really sleepy, but those will pass soon enough.
A work in progress
5 months ago