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I arrived at Karmê Chöling to join the staff as Rusung just two weeks before our staff half-dathün.  I feel very fortunate to have been able to enter this new work and living environment in this way.  To be able to be part of a community that prioritizes deep retreat and practice seems to be an increasingly rare situation.

During our half-dathün, along with periods of shamatha meditation and shambhala meditation practice, we received teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness.  Relaxing into the discipline of this type of retreat usually takes me a while. There’s a strange humor in seeing how much effort and exertion I have to put into learning to give up and let go a little. 

All of the meals we ate during this retreat were in the main shrine room using the practice of oryoki.  I have found this practice to be the most potent tool for seeing where my mind is truly at. I can see how tightly I tend to hold myself and my mind.  Eventually we get to see ourselves and our neighbors relax into the practice, then space out, then return, and repeat. Before breakfast each morning, we would have our daily practice of outdoor dathün walk.  Morning time in the middle of a Vermont winter has a great way of waking you up. Sometimes, a bracing cold wind works better than coffee to pull me out of morning grogginess. Throughout our long days of sitting meditation practice, we mixed in Qigong and Shamatha yoga to keep our bodies limber.

Incoming Rusung Andy Benson with previous Rusung Emma Cataford.

Getting to know people and yourself by just being with them and near them, often without exchanging any words has a way of much more immediately getting to know who we really are, the true nature of ourselves that lives beneath our habits of body, speech, and mind.  I want to express my immense gratitude to the Karmê Chöling staff, the retreat staff, and other local sangha members that all came together to provide the opportunity to make this happen.



One Comment

  1. Welcome, Rusung Andy Benson. You will be a true asset to the staff and workings of Karme Choling. Again, Welcome.


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