for the past four years I’ve been participating in a buddhist study and practice regimen that’s basically been like a closed retreat, but done from home. we called it the Home Retreat and in fact, thousands of students all around the world have been participating. nothing like this has ever been tried before. it was immensely meaningful and nobody probably knows the full impact of it yet, not by a long shot. this too, is changing my life.
to do this properly, I made my study and practice my primary focus. I stopped devoting huge chunks of time to other things I used to do, becoming pretty much single-minded in my priorities. this meant cutting way back on ‘everything fun’ - from listening to music and watching movies, to making art and making friends. I walked away from academia, too. almost every day I practiced between 1 and 3 hours of meditation, and also did my best to study the teachings I was receiving. during this time I moved from upstate new york to san diego and didn’t bother a lick to meet people or find community here. I had a retreat to finish. but that’s all changing.
the home retreat is actually still going on, there are a couple years left. but a major shift has taken place both in the program and my own personal practice, and I’m starting to pick up things that I haven’t touched for a while. last week I blew glass for the first time in five years. this is my first blog in nearly seven. and the first ‘ride your mind’ event, happening at Velo Cult on October 9, is going to be the first community event I pull off in ages too.
I’ll post more about the event soon.
the main thing is, this is the beginning of something new. a re-emerging from within the boundaries of retreat and solitude, taking my creativity and passions back out into the world in a manifest way. it’s also an outlet for me to start playing with words again, images again, and a place to wrestle openly with whatever thoughts or emotions are playing with me, as I continue wobbling along on my training wheels, doggedly determined to ride my fickle mind right to enlightenment, for myself and all sentient beings.
in closing, this is what my precious teacher, Sogyal Rinpoche, has to say:
"The Tibetan word for ‘pliancy’ or ‘flexibility’, shin jang, means that you have some sense of how to ride your own mind. At first, you learn how to tame your mind. Having tamed your mind, you learn how to make friends with it. And having made friends with it, you learn how to make use of it. This is riding your mind.”
so welcome, everybody, aboard this ride.
ride your mind.