Welcome to the second of our weekly newsletters. We start with a picture taken on Thursday night at 8.00 pm and members of the community on the steps of the Centre making a joyful noise in support of NHS staff. As you can see, it wasn't just hands that were used but also a couple of conches from the Shrine Room brought out to trumpet our appreciation.
At the end of each newsletter from today you'll be able to find details of when we are livestreaming meditation sessions and the link for you to join them. And in between you can find two brief articles - one from Lama Zangmo on "Keeping a Retreat Mind during Lockdown", and "A View from a Distance" written by yours truly.
Wishing you all the best for the week ahead.
PS - To keep in touch on a more regular basis, don't forget the posts on our blog and on Facebook.
1 - Keeping a Retreat Mind during Lockdown
Some of the advice which Akong Rinpoche used to give us in the past retreats is very relevant to our current situation. Now that we all find ourselves at home, hardly able to go out, we need to create our own retreat environment and make it as positive as possible. We need to try and make the best out of this situation.
Rinpoche told us that when you are on retreat you always have good days and bad days, good sessions and bad sessions. It's normal. So just take things as they come and don't feel worried, don't feel that it's a big deal. You don't need to make a big deal out of anything you experience or anything that happens. Just learn to see it coming and going and relax with whatever arises. That's the best approach.
If you are living with others, it is important to be good companions to each other, and if you are staying alone, you also need to be kind to yourself. It is helpful to be with people who have a positive motivation and are trying their best to be kind to each other. If you have arguments and fighting when you are on retreat or in lockdown then this is not good. It is not good at any time; it only makes everybody unhappy. So mindfulness and patience is really important.
In retreat, as well as in lockdown, it is helpful to live simply and minimize our needs. We are used to having so much choice and having our wishes and desires instantly fulfilled. Instead we can now develop a mindset that is satisfied with few things. If we keep things simple and we stay content, then our mind will be more peaceful and at ease with whatever our current situation is, and that becomes a very useful lesson for the future too.
2 - A view from a distance
David Bates writes...
"I find myself in a very strange position right now. Normally living at Samye Dzong as a part of the residential community, two weeks ago circumstances took me Staffordshire to look after my Dad through the lockdown. Unexpectedly separated from my Samye Dzong family, and my partner who's self-isolating in her flat in London, coming up here forced yet more changes and adaptations on me that I'd not been expecting.
Yes, it's all been very difficult but, as my manager commented this week - "Never waste a good crisis". After all the years of Buddhist teachings I've had, the study and reflection, the hours of meditation, it's in adversity that I can start to see how much has really gone in and how deeply. Where I judge myself to be wanting - this is the chance to practice self-compassion, to acknowledge that I'm doing my best. It's the chance to apply the lojong teachings - to pick a saying for each day and hold that in mind. And thanks to the miracle of livestreaming, I get to join the community each morning in meditation - a gift which gives me a reason to get up at a reasonable time and start the day so constructively. This is a time when, separated by distance, I've rarely had the chance to be so grateful to be a part of the Samye Dzong community or felt so supported."