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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Breathe In Peace


Buddhist Mindfulness Retreat 

The Photographs below are of the Pacific Northwest Coast at Westwind Oregon, USA
by Mix Hart



















I had a surreal week in Oregon. The retreat was on the North Pacific Coast in a protected United Nations Biosphere: where the Salmon River meets the Pacific Ocean. The area has a Tsunami every 300 years. One is due. An earthquake off the coast of Washington last week left me a little nervous—I kept this from the children. I felt blessed though, that our rustic cabin (Tyee) was high on a mountain top above the beach—along the designated Tsunami escape route—at least we were safe while we slept. At night, we climbed the steep mountain path to our cabin. Only three of the cabins were located on our mountain—so quiet and secluded. There were no artificial lights to guide our way—we used a flashlight. The toilet was an outhouse on the edge of a cliff with amazing view of the ocean. One false move in the dark and over the cliff you went!

The Monastics attending the retreat were from the Deer Park Monastery in San Diego, California. They practice Zen Buddhism and follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh of Plum Village, France. Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhism is new to me. He has successfully transformed and packaged Buddhism to attract North Americans. This type of Buddhism is very accessible to me (as a North American with a family). The focus is on living a good life full of compassion, awareness, and connectedness with others and nature along with daily meditation (but not the several hour long meditations as I have been accustomed).

I traveled with my sister, her daughter and my two eldest daughters. The girls had the time of their lives: meeting new friends, exploring the coast and learning a little dharma. As well, the girls received new Dharma names.

It is difficult to summarize the retreat in blog post. It was an amazing week of unbelievable natural beauty and wonder, combined with intimate social connections and Buddhist Dharma. I spent the entire week bare foot. Modern society was so very far away—existing in a parallel universe.

It was a joyful celebration of nature and human connections. We sang many songs, ate healthy, natural foods and practiced meditation, dharma talks and Qi Gong (dance-like style of martial arts). It was also challenging on many levels and revealed to me some personal fears and the route of some personal anxiety.

In the next few posts I hope to capture a glimpse of my experience through photographs. 

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