Monday, August 25, 2008
I'm back from my Zen retreat, and happy to be home. Those of you who have never done a sesshin should see my post from last year, which describes the basic arc of the experience. I joked with my teacher that it's a bit like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). At first I was all into the beauty of the silence and the peacefulness; within a few days I was angry at being expected to sit all day on my aching knees, watching my mind desperately trying to entertain itself; I'd say, "If I could have a cup of coffee, I could get through these next three periods of sitting"; eventually I gave in to a kind of resignation. And by then it was over, and as usual, in restrospect it seems pretty remarkable.
It was nice to be utterly disconnected from the outside world. I didn't use a phone, check my e-mail, look at a computer. It was just me in a community of fellow students and our teachers. The weather was beautifully cool, which is a change from previous years, and that helped a lot in terms of physical comfort.
It's nice to be back now, in my own bed with my cat and a good book. I'll relate more about the week over the next few days, after I've had a chance to settle back in a bit more.
I didn't take my camera on retreat, either, so I'll have to improvise on how to illustrate my posts. The photo above is from our Zendo in New York City.