In the fall of 2004, a friend asked me to attend with him and I did. The first time I went, I knew I would return. Not sure I would call that experience knowing this was the path for me; what I knew at that point was that being able to stop talking, to be away from being an “expert” (I practiced employment law – was the sole employment law expertise in the business department of my firm.), needing to know what to do, needing to get it “right”, etc.
I met Buddhism in 2004, so I just kind of bounced around for a number of years and I had long before this I had sort of abandoned to my Catholic upbringing, which had been a very strong when my first public school was law school. So I had Catholic all the way through college, but I had stopped participating on the the Sunday go to church thing and sort of the organizational side of it. Pretty early on in my undergraduate years. And so I really didn’t have a spiritual practice. But in the course of dating various individuals over the years out here, one of the individuals I met had lived at Great Falls and Monastery for a period of time and encouraged me to go to meditation on a Thursday night when he went here in Portland at a at that time, they were renting a location, not where they are today. So I went with him one evening after procrastinating. This was not a priority to me. And I had a bit of an attitude going into it. And as best as I can describe my attitude, it was, if this is like that Catholic thing I grew up with, where on Sundays we go and look all proper and devout, and then it makes no difference the rest of the week, I’m not going to be interested in coming back. So that was so that was kind of my resistance going into it, my attitude. But what I found was going and being on a cushion and being in silence for an hour was so relieving. I know I didn’t have to talk to anybody. I’m kind of an introvert more than an extrovert, although it’s probably well enough disguised these days. So I didn’t have to talk. I didn’t have to know anything at my firm out here. I was a subspecialist in employment law, in a business department, so I was the go to for a lot of things that had real ramifications for clients or if other attorneys and just the the relief for getting to stop for an hour was so powerful for me. That’s what kept me going back. And in fact, from the fall of 2004 to today as I sit here, Thursday night has been the continuous, stable practice I’ve go when I meditate on Thursday nights. And that’s been true for all of those 115 ish years now. And then more got added to that, but that was my bit. So basically, it was a date.
The other thing when you asked me that question about the meditation was that that showed up for me because one of the things I have done is meditation instruction for newcomers, to the temple, for I do that for, I don’t know, a couple of years, I guess. And frequently. People who were coming in who had tried to meditate at home alone or or hadn’t had support about what it looks like. I really thought they were supposed to try to make something happen, like my new goal is I will be calmer, so I’m going to make it happen, which is the best guarantee that it’s not going to be a calmer minute that comes next because that’s not how it works. So the opportunity to sit with folks and help them find a way to be comfortable and let go of notions that our Western bodies that didn’t grow up sitting on the floor past toddler hood probably aren’t going to be comfortable sitting on the floor on a cushion cross-legged for an hour. So let’s not do that. Let’s or if we’re going to do that, let’s at least tuck some different pillows and supports around to get stability. Or let’s sit in a different posture and ask. And literally like tentatively asking people to just please try this bench. And then watching them sit on the bench and their face goes like, Wow. And actually, a couple of times I had people say to me, I thought you were supposed to be in pain and I’d be like, No, like, no, that’s not the point. Yes, if you’re if you’re going to do long retreats, you will be at some point experiencing it. But let’s not start there. It’s not a goal for it’s not a goal to create pain so that we can somehow toughen our way through it, which is kind of a western mindset thing, I think. So that was one. And then the other one was that the thing about that I mentioned about the tendency to, well, now I will make my mind to be calm and to let go of that and say so now that your body is comfortable, that we’ve talked about what you do with your eyes. Let’s talk about what you do like what is the activity of meditation and really kind of coaching and nudging toward going beyond just saying so now focus on breathing to say, and you know, there are different ways to. one of my personal favorites. And so I would say I would list the option, I would say, and one of my personal favorites is just notice the subtle way that your body is expanding when you inhale and contracting. The other way, expanding as you inhale going can expand and contract as you exhale fat and just kind of doing a couple of press and then sitting for five minutes and ringing the bell and looking up and saying, Hey, not everybody was calm every time, but seeing that there were some times when having a little more clarity about what are we doing in this minute rather than the western habit of I’m supposed to make something happen and it’s supposed to be, and then I’m supposed to be calmer when I walk out of here, just like you might be, you might not be. But let’s just notice what’s right here right now. And it has a calming effect. So often I still do the same thing with myself at 2:00 a.m. if I wake up and I’ve got my chatter mind going about all the things I need to remember to do. I still consciously return to noticing where my body is being touched and touching and then noticing I because my eyes are closed. I, I often fall asleep shortly after I shift to looking at the color patterns behind my closed eyes. It’s amazing how often they’re changing, and once my mind can turn in that direction, the number of times that I then wake up at, you know, six or 7:00 a.m. after having fallen asleep is a very practical effect of 15 or so years. I’ve tried that that and this is the part of me that’s taught meditation to new people and a couple of things I’ve noticed that it might be helpful to mention along the way. So I’ll come back to that. But in terms of my experience with with meditation. So the cycling and the discipline to do that actually predated my Buddhism, where the meditation and the things that were happening for me as I experienced meditation happened were in the place. I think of letting go of the notion that cycling meant 50 6070 mile days and doing centuries and oh, doing centuries faster. And oh, at 40 my life I need to race self shows up. Cyclists don’t start racing at 40. I mean, it’s just that, although you can find a way to do it, and I did a little bit. But but so with meditation and with the other things that were happening, I think what happened with my cycling was I found the place of shifting from cycling being another thing. I took on that I was going to do more of and faster and be stronger at shifting to. And I went through this as a really conscious thing. one year when I had adhesive kept slight ascent, a really painful shoulder. I’m not cycling to prove anything, and I and I really had to stop and notice, and meditation is the kind of thing that helped make the space to notice. I have become unhappy on my bicycle because I’m not as strong and fast as I used to be and I’m dealing with pain. So the more important thing is that I am on my bicycle and I am happy. Not that I’m doing 40, 50, 70, 100 mile days. Not that I’m doing the century rides. Not that I’m making it a big agenda in my day, and it’s supported a shift back towards. Am I feeling joy being out here? And these days, I’m averaging about ten miles a day. Most days I get out, usually five or six times a week. But during the time that I’m on my bike, instead of having a goal of Oh, I need to get up to cover my camp on Mt. Hood, I’m noticing things like while the Sun just came out from behind a cloud. It’s it’s I’m really enjoying the physical sensation of the warmth of the sun on my body as I’m doing this block and going to this place. So it’s it’s influence. I mean, it’s influenced everything in my life, but in cycling in particular, that’s the best I can do to kind of describe the how of it, I guess.
And then listening to Dharma talks, and I remember one of the things that early on I kept hearing from Hogan, who is the teacher who who’s chosen the husband and the other founder of the community and the teacher who did Thursday nights until very recently. The number of times I heard him say, Just keep showing up, just show up like you don’t have to come here, you don’t have to be a certain way. And I’m layering all that in. He wouldn’t say all that, but in his talks, a number of times I just hear say, just keep showing up. And I did. I just kept coming back on Thursday night and sitting and listening to his talk. And honestly, community was not a part of it for me. I would have been happy to have then gotten back out the door without the circle and the T and the social bit. And then somehow I got wrapped into being a greeter. I don’t even know that made no sense to me when it happened, but somehow that happened. But I do. I just kept showing up and experiencing things, shifting often without a storyline to match what was going on. And I wasn’t at that time doing sunset or having meetings with the teachers. I was just doing what I’ve described. But I watch things and one of the most telling points in time for me. In the meantime, my when my law practice is also shifting towards more advisory and away from litigation and fighting with other attorneys over past facts into shaping current ones. And Client says to me, one day you’re calmer, you’re getting calmer. And I had not stopped to think about what I was experiencing that was shifting and how it looked and how it would be labeled. But it was really almost startlingly eye opening to me that after a few months of this, people whom I really cared to give good advice to and be skillful with were experiencing me differently. When I first stepped into taking the five precepts, which is the first thing beyond just showing up and meditating. It’s the first public commitment of any kind. It’s actually not becoming a Buddhist, it’s just making this commitment to live by these core five ethical precepts. When we started studying that and they’re the same as the commandments, I mean, you know, thou shalt not kill, do not kill, but cherish all life. That was to me the oh my gosh. And to this day, I resonate with the ethical precepts because the positive statement that’s a part of each of those ways that we phrase them in Buddhism is the part where you recognize this is impossible and it’s important that we do it even though it’s impossible to do it perfectly . And letting it be the challenge and the mystery that it is about, how can I live this life that way rather than you broke one, you’re going to hell now you need to go to confession and come up with your little laundry list, another thing that always felt very artificial to me. So even at that point early on, the meditation has been the strong piece really. All along, the curiosity was there and it was showing up at that point. But I don’t know that I would have consciously said that was a draw to me until the last, probably the last couple of years. Um, when I stepped into SongArc High, which is a study program that I participate in, that I’m in my second year of where we get together one quarter and we do present and actually actively study things Buddhist.
So looking at the arc of of those kinds of things and what happened in my practice, the very first thing that came to my mind is and you alluded to it, the finding time to practice. So when I saw way back when I first went to the temple that first Thursday and shortly after that, I went up to the monastery and I did a weekend and that was so powerful. I bought a Zapper tan and off the mat and the cushion and I took him home and I’m like, I’m going to do this right and I’m going to go practice law. That’s what I do every day, right? So the how to make it happen was the first part. And honestly, I didn’t think I could sit there for half an hour on my own. So. I started I would go into my kitchen, I would set the timer on my microwave for five minutes. I don’t set really high goals sometimes, so five minutes. I would set the microwave timer and I would go get on my news after my news operation, which I’ve placed in front of the sliding glass door to a patio off my bedroom. So the outdoors. For me, that’s a huge part. The outdoor connection and I would sit there, and at first there was a part of me waiting for the microwave. I’m like, Ready, OK, you can go off now. I’m ready to get in the shower, get my suit on, go off to the office, right? And then I started to notice. That when the microwave went off, we’re sort of five minutes. But when the microwave went off, I wasn’t ready to get out. I was learning to pay attention to the breath and sounds. I found some meditation so beneficial. And oftentimes I think people do like what I was doing meditation instruction. Some people do it and they’re like, Oh, I hate sound. And some people are like, I like the breath feels really good and sound as an. I was as, I like sound. It’s it’s a go to for me when I’m when I need to like, refocus on myself. So I was noticing the microwave timer was going off and I would have been happy to stay on the cushion, so I decided not to try it without the microwave. And I was at seven to eight minutes of natural time at that point in the morning. And honestly, I think the only reason that worked for me is because I didn’t try to do 20 or 30. You know, the I’m going to make myself do 20 because it felt so good doing those 25 minute times at the monastery. I don’t think it would have worked if I were trying to do that every morning before going to the office. But the five minutes it ended up being, it’s kind of like the thing you hear about people talk about kids like you want to stop the bike ride when they still don’t want to stop, you want to stop while they’re still happy, not after. I’m a five year old. I needed to stop have the microwave go off when I still could experience being on the cushion and it being good. So I think that was really important to me at that point in time. I think one of the pivotal things for me, I stepped into doing smashing practice and then I have this. You should do this twice. You should do this every year. You need to do this every year. And at the point that I had that experience, when I looked back on my 16 practice, I had done one in January and then I had done one the next year, in June, and then I had done one the next year, in November. So as I looked back, I was. I have been doing for three years. I have met this new standard that I’m going to have. And I don’t remember. I remember which session I was in. It was like being time with the theme, but I don’t remember where it was in my years of doing them. I went to one session and over the course of that week, I actually stopped looking at the schedule posted on the wall and. Slipped into just trusting that the bells would ring and that when the bell rang, if it was the one that said it was time to go to the Senate, oh, I know it was time to go meditate. And if it was a different one, I’d know whether it was time to go to lunch. You know that it was. And so for a couple or three days, maybe a couple of days, at the end of that sashayed, I actually stopped checking and planning to make sure I knew where I was supposed to be. And it was a really powerful experience to have. And there’s a part of me knows that that kind of living in the world is possible because I had that experience, even though the truth is I’ve never had it again and now I do something twice a year, but I’ve never had that level of letting go of sort of managing or controlling what I’m supposed to be doing, not just show up again. But I think having an experience like that, there’s something of it that has stayed with me. I know that it’s possible. The other thing that happened, and this is kind of a backwards story in a way, I was going on Thursday nights and I was really it was at a point where there had just been a dharma talk about putting energy and sort of being aware of putting the energy when to put more energy into your practice and when to relax the energy a little based on what’s going on in your meditation. And I was in a place where I was really, really being attentive to that particular thing. So I would I would go. And um, it was also during a time when I was greeting and I was sitting outside of the center. So be looking in the center doorway, but I’d be sitting outside of the center. And so I wouldn’t get up for Kinahans. I’d be sitting for a full hour, unlike most people who get up and walk at half an hour. And I would go home and this happened. I have this experience pretty consistently for probably a period of two or three months. So I would come from work 7:30 at night after work on a Thursday. I’m usually pretty tired. I would really put energy into this. Do I need to pay more or relax kind of thing as I was breathing or doing sound or whatever? I was trained to go back and forth between now, and this tired lawyer would then drive home and I wouldn’t get home till 10:00 because I lived at that time in East Vancouver. So I was driving for 20 minutes to get home. I was wide awake. It was like although my body was tired, my brain had had a nap. And I would get home and I was feeling so refreshed and it’s like 10:00 and I’m just like refreshed and. And it was kind of a magical, but I don’t tend to be a magical thinker, but it was like it was a startlingly strong, a fact of how solidly I was meditating at that point in time in my life.
So one very practical example of where media practice was very powerful for me, and I’m in the business department of a law firm practicing law. It’s 2008 or what happened in 2008 in the economy, it’s like there’s problems everywhere. And our clients are experiencing this. And we had a client where there was a lot of financial distress being handling some litigation by another attorney in the firm. And then there were other things going on with employment situation. So that attorney was bringing me in to meet with him. And there was just so much distress and I could see it, not just on the client who I had minimal history with, but on this attorney in my firm who is one of the most relaxed equanimity ness of the attorneys in the firm. And I’m looking at this person and I am seeing that he is amazingly stressed out, and this client had met with me once and literally walked out five minutes into the meeting. We’re talking about five minutes in. The meeting is walking out going where you can believe that if you want to and leaving, so then the attorney wants to bring me back in because I’m I’m the knowledge and the firm in this area. So I’m driving in from work. I have about a ten minute drive. And at that time, I was doing a lot of media practice as I drove to work in general in various situations and what it looked like at that time when another member, a friend of mine and I’m not going to sing on camera because I don’t sing so well, but had taught me doing mattered to. Amazing Grace to the melody, and I have this beautiful CD, and I would play this song over and over, and it would be like, May I be filled with loving kindness ? Can I be filled with compassion all the way through? And then I would do it for the attorney. Me, you and me. And literally the stuff is going on over today. And there was I did a lot of may. We like it. It had expanded at that place for me, so I wasn’t stopped because you’re supposed to always start with yourself. So I would do that all the way in and a second practice I had at that time. And I highly recommend this to anybody who’s dealing with difficulty on the UCLA website where there are guided meditations. There’s one called Working With Difficulties, and it’s a seven minute meditation that I used to keep on my desk top. So I would do matter as I’m driving to the office and I would do these seven minutes when I was noticing that I was holding that, I was doing a lot of anxiety that my thinking was being very scattered and I was having trouble, focus or just that. My shoulders were very tight and it say a meditation effect of which is to invite you to look and notice what’s happening and then look and notice a place in your body that’s relaxed. And she’ll say, you know, sometimes you look at your hands or your toes or someplace, but just kind of resetting this life of a mind to notice there’s a bigger world than just the truth of this moment of difficulty. And so I would do that and I went, I remember one day going into one of these meetings with and it was the three of us and somehow was able to speak through enough of what was going on. To help the stress be less and the planning be a little bit better, a little bit better, as judged by me through my lawyer eyes in terms of what’s more likely to be more effective, helping to get from where we are to where the client needs to go. So I watched that very winding, wending and winding in time, those together in that way. And it had a very positive effect on that meeting. And I remember for me, the biggest gratitude for that was watching this attorney who is just a dear human being, be in reduced distress, at least because I at least wasn’t contributing to it out of my own tension in that meeting. So that’s kind of the most pragmatic that I can think of. Current practice, we’re going into Ango in another couple of weeks and based on conversation in the thing I do on Sunday nights last week, I borrowed from another person who’s there. We were working with sympathetic joy, how to cultivate more joy in life and looking at some of the things that support joy, joy in that in the benefit of others, not joy for my own self, but like joy, seeing a child who’s happy joy, seeing somebody else have good fortune. And one of the things that came up was just noticing whether we experience the world through a lens of scarcity. And so I’m planning to take that on for my practice for the six weeks of our fall and go just moment to moment in my life. Am I am I seeing through scarcity right now or abundance? What’s here right now? And just remind myself to stop and look because I think and this goes back to the childhood thing, to my habitual self, sees the world as kind of one of scarcity. And I do OK when, in reality, if I stop, I have a pretty nice house. I have an amazing husband. I got to retire. I was living comfortably. I get to cook. I get to raise things in raised beds in the backyard. I get to go over the temple and meditate multiple times a week. I have more people who I try to have lunch with and do face time with, and I can keep up with. That’s abundance. That’s a pretty, you know, and in the habit of seeing the world as maybe not quite wanting me around, maybe I’m not perfect enough and I don’t know the right thing to say right now or do right now. That’s my habit. And so because because as I’ve as I’ve done, the four I’ve done the practices and loving kindness, is there the weight barrier that you do a lot of to support all the others? But as I’ve done them, it’s streaming to me right now that the world is so much better for my Buddhist practice, just my day to day engagement, my appreciation of the world. And yet I have a habit of experiencing the world as heavy. And maybe it’s time to take on a look and noticing to see if the world is really as heavy as my habits tend to say it is.
So how the Buddhist practices have influenced, so my relationship with my mom is an easy one to say, I’m doing the magic and my mom lived in Iowa until the day she died, so we weren’t in close proximity. But from a distance, being able to be in meditation and experience what what really started to happen was what the Buddhist practice did is cause me to have the very clear realization that this isn’t about my mom, but none of it’s about my mom. That’s it. Not one bit of it’s about my mom that it’s about. I’m still believing it’s about that part of me that has habituated to still either believing or at least wondering if she was right. And once I had that realization that that alone was just an amazing, amazing point in my Buddhist practice and going to the hospice and meditating time that this isn’t about mom. And I also had a really strong. And from the meditation, from doing loving kindness from from all of it. I’ve also had a very strong sense that from from a karmic perspective, there is an undoing, not just of my challenge, but of my mother. So we haven’t talked about my father’s. But but that that there’s a mending that’s happening in both directions. I mean, there’s no doubt and early on I and from my childhood, I’ve had a vow and I didn’t even learn to think of it this way until this practice that it’s a vow not to put anger in the world in that way. So from a from a kind of a temporal aspect going forward has always been like, I’m doing something that’s less unkind. OK? But through this practice, I also I’m also re weaving the prior temporal and it too is less unkind. And in one sense, even as I say that it’s like people are going to like this, I’m going to make no sense one day. But even knowing that it’s still it’s still my truth that my dad’s anger and my mom’s anger, the alcohol, all of that is becoming less unkind as I do the work of this practice and it gets to dissolve. And not and not hold the same pain. And I suspect not just for me, but for others as well. Certainly for others in my family. But keep an eye were. I think what the I think? Maybe what? Being part of the same sangat spiritually meant when we met, it gave us different language and a different structure within which to communicate with each other and including, you know, as we kind of get to know each other and we’re bumping into each other here and there. It gave us a different framework through which we could explore some of that. And what I said in our marriage, when I when I wrote what I said to him in our marriage vows, was he being with him supports me being the best to me. Because he can identify and raise, and he just sees my practice in a way that he can identify things that touch it. And I honestly think she sees me through the lens of this practice as. More notable than I would probably describe myself as, there’s a sweetness in that there’s a sweetness in holding each other with some shared value around spiritual life that I mostly feel very fortunate to have experienced, but I don’t think I was wise or insightful enough to cause to happen, like dumb luck. Perhaps. But her but it is certainly lovely now, and right, and we both we talk about what good fortune we have now that we both share that practice and I’m less clinging to notions of what Kip ought to think or believe. There’s a little more space to allow him to be him, including around how we do our vigorous practice, I guess. Yeah. So I really it’s hard for me to discern. I think the benefits have to be there regardless. But maybe the fact that we’re both coming from a practice that has as part of its core tenants looking and seeing what is there rather than it’s supposed to look a certain way, brings more flexibility and ease into navigating together.
No, I. I’m trying to think how many years I’ve been doing since then with Hogan. Oh, probably ten years. I have no idea. I don’t know. When I started, I didn’t step into it way at the beginning. And it’s still very difficult for me to say exactly what that is because it’s not like, like all of my childhood and all of my history would say, there’s sort of a structure in an organization and directions, and here’s what you do. That’s not how my Sorenson feels. And yet I can go into some zen and whatever we talk about it, I mean, it has something to do with the Dharma and the weavings and his sort of responding to where I’m at as I walk in that day. And sometimes I come out and I’m like feeling like really like inapt and stupid and slow and all of those things that I bring to that picture. And yet I trust I have I have such total trust in his wisdom and I spirit. It’s like, it’s like although my first habitual piece shows up the way it is, I benefit. And then oftentimes something he has said will come back to me. At another point, it’ll be like, Oh, wow, I’m the like and like putting it together. But it’s it’s really hard for me to explain like and many of them, I can’t remember the specific conversations I like the deepest listening I do. Sometimes it doesn’t translate into that kind of memory that the lawyer memory, the holding on the the the rational connecting stuff is just different. But yet those meetings are so important to me and my appreciation to what I have gained since I’ve started doing is hands on with him is almost up. Plus, it’s that valuable a piece of the picture. I don’t I don’t have a good word to talk about that part of this wisdom. But that certainly is a part of the um, that certainly is a big part of sadness, the one on one teachers and I don’t even remember, I feel like I know I’ve read articles that have better words and I’m coming up with in terms of a lineage. For many years, it didn’t quite get it, I mean, I didn’t quite get what’s this, you know, this one and stuff. But then when in recent years my appreciation of lineage has really deepened because it’s the commonality. It’s the finally getting it that what I’m living and experience is no different. I mean, it’s totally different than any other individual. And yet the core wisdom, the core sort of learning the core. What do you got when you really slow down for long enough to let? That which is not different between us, show up starts to show up. And that’s the place where I start to experience lineage as something very precious and something very beautiful that there’s this core something that is the same for me as. For Bodie Darwin, a cave in China when he came over from. India, yeah, but the the the willingness to. Let’s be what is somehow. He’s in there. And and just. So it kind of started this whole, I guess, antique. But it matters. There’s something that is honest. However, difficult to put into words. That is real, that is, and that is what allows for the human challenges that all bubble up around us as we’re going to start to relax in a way where you get to see that what’s left is something that’s very positive and loving and caring and present. And it doesn’t break with all of the other pieces that get built up around us. And yet it can get hidden by them.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
Overall, influences/determines how I want to be in the world and with others. I retired from law practice at the end of 2015. Over the course of my 35 years practicing law, I moved away from litigation (largely preceded meeting Buddhist practice, but related to how people relate to each other and wanting to be in the world in a kinder, more wholesome way – accelerated into emphasis on proactive (eventually only proactive) advising and focusing on/learning more about how we communicate, on how to function in organizations, on workplace bullying (including taking Laura Crawshaw’s boss whispering training), on the experience of people transitioning during employment, etc. and relationships In January 2015, Michael (Sojin) Kip and I married. (At Heart of Wisdom, we were the first wedding in the zendo after our community purchased and upgraded/restored the property.) We met in this community and there are so many benefits to sharing this spiritual practice.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)
Meditation, of course. At HOWZT on Thursday evenings, Sunday mornings, and evenings; Meditation is also my ‘go to’ if thinking about things I need to do/anxiety are keeping me awake at night. Loving-Kindness meditation – less regularly at HOW; I shuso when Nan leads it and fill in to lead it occasionally when the regulars (Nan and Kodo) are not available; particularly after working through Christina Feldman’s book, Boundless Heart, in a Meditation & Dharma Drop In I facilitate on Sunday evenings, I find this type of meditation becoming something I go to on a more frequent basis during my days. Meditation twice a week via FaceTime with Kip’s cousin (usually I offer some guidance). The Work of Byron Katie – which I met through this community; after attending her 9-day school, I now do the work on a regular basis with two friends I made there; this year I attended a 3-Day Camp for The Work of Byron Katie and look forward to continuing this involvement in whatever format/event/location works. YouTubes – Hogen, Chozen, Kisei, Jogen, and others from Great Vow Zen Monastery. Sesshin – twice a year is my current intention (and practice).
And it was kind of a magical, but I don’t tend to be a magical thinker, but it was like it was a startlingly strong, a fact of how solidly I was meditating at that point in time in my life.
Which sangha do you normally attend ?
Wisdom Zen Temple, in-the-city location of the Zen Community of Oregon (ZCO) which also has Great Vow Zen Monastery, a training monastery. Initially provided the structure of weekly sitting for an hour + dharma talks. Has since expanded such that I offer back support in the form of Thursday Head of Zendo responsibilities, facilitating Sunday evening Meditation & Dharma Drop In (45 min program), offer a Work and Zen workshop one Saturday each year and a 3-hour workshop for working and professional woman a couple times each year. I am one of 3 co-facilitators of our six month Awakening to Whiteness program, carrying forward what was initiated, developed and first offered/facilitated by another member of the sangha. I have also held most (and trained in all) service positions so am able to fill in as needed on these. Within the past year, have become involved in the Engaged Buddhism Committee.
What is your primarily profession?
Retired. Previously practiced law for 35 years.
What the Buddhist practice did is cause me to have the very clear realization that this isn’t about my mom, but none of it’s about my mom.
Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?
Absolutely! As I mentioned above, my childhood religious experiences felt disconnected from the rest of life in a way that caused me to be very resistant to participating if this practice felt separate from the rest of my life. As I began to meditate, go to beginners mind weekends and workshops, then stepped into sesshin (longer retreats) and sanzen (one on one meetings with teacher), my early sense that I was getting what I needed/wanted (not sure of word I want, if feels more like I don’t often know what I need! Yet what I get support and benefits me being better, more aware, more discerning, wiser in the world). One thing specific to my experience is an early childhood in which I was consistently receiving anger and being told I did not belong, was not wanted, was stupid; my experiences in this community are very much to the opposite – and push me to see more clearly what are habits and influences of my past versus what is real and needs attention in the present.
Can you share any powerful experiences (whether it was through mediation or transmissions) and how you integrate/motivate you in your practice?
Many powerful experiences, particularly in the early years of my practice. Motivation was to see what they were, what was going on. (Practically speaking, had I stepped into talking with teachers about them when I was experiencing them, I might – or might not, who knows! – have moved in my life and ways of being more quickly.)