It’s been a week since I returned from retreat in upstate New York. I’m settling into my new found freedom of mind quite nicely. I feel so grateful to have had such a nourishing experience for my body and soul. I’m counting down the days until I can make the small train trip journey again to live with a beautiful sangha, mindfully.
I stayed for a week with the brothers and sisters of Blue Cliff Monastery. I was welcomed with smiles of joy and care upon arriving. I was just happy to be out of the concrete of New York City for a few days. I was so excited to see trees, grass, birds, and deer. The earth’s beauty was almost overwelming but I knew it was just what I needed.
If you’ve been following my story you know that the last 5 years have been anything but easy, especially the last 6 months have been extra intense ontop of on going health issues. I’ve been living with/suffering from/learning from HS disease for about that length of time. Though I’ve never experienced pain quite like the kind provided by this disease I have no regrets about my illness. It has been my greatest teacher. One I am eternally in debt to for it’s teachings. About two months ago I awoke from a night of restful sleep missing my symptoms of illness I have been living with for these last few years. Fingers crossed, those symptoms have not showed back up.
I’m not sure why the universe decided to throw me a bone but I couldn’t be more thankful. There were times where I didn’t believe I would live through this disease. There were times when I wanted to give up. There were times where I just wanted to be put out of my misery. Especially those times where It was too painful for me to get up and walk. Having these experiences in my timeline, being able to use my legs and entire body to live mindfully and feel my experience at the monestary kept bringing up a huge sense of gratitude with every step I would make. During walking meditation just feeling the earth under my feet and breathing with each step, made me tear up. I couldn’t believe I was walking, fully healed with no pain. This entire experience has been miraculous. I have no other explanation.
I needed to get away from the city and reground myself in the loving energy of nature. I went on many walks through the beautiful forrest feeling each step and looking at the streams, leaves, and clouds. The earth seemed brand new, full of possiblity. Finally I was waking up to my life. Finally I was realizing all that I had within me. For a week I lived in the present moment. I needed nothing else, wanting nothing else. I had everything I needed. Health, good food, support, meditation, friends, and the outside world full of beauty. The monastics that live at the monastery were so full of joy and inspiring. They shared beautiful stories of healing and wisdom. I listened to every word as if It might be my last time to use my ears. I ate every meal as if it might be my last meal to taste. I walked every step as if It was my last on the earth. I appreciated it. It nourished my body and soul and slowly day by day, I began to come alive.
This retreat was a celebration. A celebration of healing. A celebration of my journey here. I’m so grateful for the suffering that has been handed to me as a gift. I want to learn from it all and help others relate to their pain in a differnet manner. It doesn’t have to consume us. We can learn to smile at our pain. We can learn to except pain and joy at the same time, instead of running towards joy and away from pain. We can make space in my hearts and minds to encompass whatever may be arising.
The peace and healing I recieved from this retreat has re-inspired many areas of my life. Just by being present with myself, all my problems started to unravel themselves. I’ve returned with a new vigor for life. I’m curious about all the people I share this world with. I vow to see them as no different than myself. Everyone is my family and I can smile at them. I want to learn as much as possible about everyone I meet. I want to help them. I want them to heal. Let’s heal together.
The monastics taught me many different things but the teaching that resonated with me the most was about healing our ancestors. It is Buddhist’s belief that when you practice mindfulness in everyday life you heal past wounds. Not only do you heal your own wounds but you also heal your ancestors wounds. Going back as far as time goes back. Breaking the cycle of pain and giving life. I heal myself and I heal all others in contact with me in this life. If that’s not motivation to continue to heal and practice than I don’t know what is. I love that I can provide relief from pain for my family just by healing myself. We are really all connected. We really are all in this together.
I envision a day where we can all heal. Where we can all look at our minds, and make friends with it. I look forward to the day when we are no longer enslaved by our own minds. We shall live in harmony with the world around us. With it’s pain, with it’s joy. We will smile.
Smile, there is love.
Smile, there is pain.
Smile, don’t run away.
Smile, stay here.
Smile, be here.
Smile, send love.
Smile, recieve love.
Smile, you are beautiful.
Smile, you can heal.
Smile, you are alive.
Smile, to the possibilities.