It is peaceful and serene here at the Land of Medicine Buddha temple and sanctuary. I am sitting in Lotus position on a special meditation pillow, surrounded by candles, incense and statues of 9 Buddhas lined neatly in a row. I am reciting a prayer and mantra after mantra. Still, I cannot seem to move beyond the fact that I have no cell phone service, which makes me feel quite intense! Try as I might to lead my mind from missing my cell phone service back to meditation and mantra, I continue to dwell on the fact that I went from 5 bars to no bars the very minute I turned up the long, winding and heavily wooded driveway. In my current state of withdrawal, I am most certain they did this with thoughtful intention.
Morning, noon and night, during every available break, I continue to check my iPhone, even through the previous 5 times I checked the phone still reported, "no service." Did I honestly think that somehow my body could act as a giant receiver and that I could, miraculously, lock in service? My mind resurfaces and I wonder what he hell is wrong with me in that I cannot enjoy this alluring place, serene moments of silence and meditation (note that I originally typed medication, to which I am certain that I am that in need of at lease one prescription). I have sadly come to the conclusion that I am a high-tech junkie in need of a thirteen-step program, the additional step needed, specifically, for having fond attachments to electronic devices. Since meditation and Buddhist philosophies advise that you not fight your thoughts and simply acknowledge them, no matter how obsessive, and gently let them pass, I practice doing so. Out of sheer mental exhaustion, I finally surrender to the fact that I have no service and I begin to relax. However, looking around at all the smiling, peaceful faces in the room, I am fairly certain that I am the only person attending two, back-to-back, Zen retreats who was foolish enough to smuggle in a laptop computer!
One of my biggest pleasures in life is eating. I make no excuses to hide the fact that I love to eat (nor do the hips lie)! For this very reason, I am often on a diet (along with the dog). The food served at the retreat, to my surprise, has been amazing! It’s beyond what I would have expected (of course, what I “expected” was a cardboard & broccoli concoction drowning in an unidentifiable green sauce). However, nothing even remotely resembling a cardboard, broccoli combination, nor any overcooked noodles with unidentifiable sauce of any type, or color has been served. What they did serve was what they refer to as sustainable vegetarian, what they can grow or purchase locally and that which will not deplete earth. Everything was fresh, homemade and organic. I have tried, many times, to buckle down and become vegetarian without success. In spite of my efforts, ultimately I return to my flesh eating habits (barring anything resembling Bambi or Peter Cottontail, and the very reason I do not befriend chickens). Tonight we are dining on salads with fresh vegetables with a lemon dill vinaigrette, lentil soup and homemade vegetarian pizza. We continue to go back and forth for seconds and thirds until we are all too stuffed to move, which is likely to be an issue since after dinner there is a scheduled walk and qigong session (and for this I pray that we are all not standing too close to together given our hefty dinner portions). There were many meals that were so delicious that I never once missed having chicken or fish. Rarely, do I eat beef, but this is more attributed to having had a pet cow more than the issue of “beef” (perhaps a topic for another blog post). If only they had had a cookbook that I could purchase (not that I cook, but it is a nice addition to any library and a beautiful accessory for any kitchen countertop)! When all was said and done and I returned back home, I was not chomping at the bit for any of the foods that I ate before the retreat. I was perfectly content to continue eating vegetarian cuisine, at least for a while, the “awhile” being the longest period of time I’ve ever gone without eating meat like substances.
(To Be Continued) ...
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