Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Yesterday Richie began a series of Feldenkrais exercises to assist people in opening very gently to sitting meditation. This morning, Amrita led us in mindful movement as a way to teach the fundamentals of mindfulness itself - through the body. She had previously taught these sequences with Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts in his well known mindfulness based stress reduction program. Later, I offered a dharma talk focusing on the Buddha's Four Noble Truths as an embodied practice. So we are moving from body practices, to teachings, and back to the body, weaving a practice series we hope will assist in deepening each participant to the realization that it is only through having a body and entering wholehearted embodiment with others that we awaken fully to life as it is.
The day actually started quite powerfully, well before these man-made sessions. Most of the group went to watch the sunrise at the Kalaupapa overlook, an old stone wall at the top of a three-thousand foot cliff high above the leper colony of Molokai where Father Damien did his work. Kalaupapa is an entire story in itself of course, full of tragedy and great triumph, but this morning we stood in awed silence for more than an hour as the sun made its way up and out of the ocean offering us an indescribable display of light and texture. It was still mostly dark - at least very gray - when we arrived. A deer bounded across the road as we drove to the overlook parking lot. The moon still lit the sky. The cool morning wind whipped the ironwood trees vigorously and the waves broke forcefully against the shore far below. Later, in the morning check-in, one of our participants, JoLynn, offered this startling poem. It captures the teaching of the entire day better than I could describe.
What I Learned Before Breakfast
The birds do not keep the rule of silence
except when you least expect it.
Even the grays - all of them - are beautiful.
You cannot tell the difference
between the sound of the wind
and the sound of the water, nor
the sound they make together.
There is a line where the
sea stops and the sky beings,
The moon keeps watch till the
sun takes over and when it
does, it aims right for you.
The clouds shape shift before
your eyes offering feathers,
a purple Agapanthus, frosty
meringue, a fiery salmon dragon
sent as an emissary.
Apparently this happens frequently.