W is for Woodbrooke and learning about Buddhism

‘Being Peace’ at Woodbrooke 18-20 December 2009

I wrote this account some time ago, very soon after the retreat. This weekend was significant to me on my Quaker Buddhist journey, so it seems appropriate to share this in this blog.


Impressions from a Zen Buddhist retreat:


the sound of snow crunching under my feet as we walked mindfully around the snowy garden in the sunshine


the taste of the vegetables as we ate lunch mindfully together


the sight of twenty plus adults snuggled under their blankets on the quiet room floor


the feel of that floor under my knees, palms, forehead as we ‘touched the earth’


the smell of the tea in the tea ceremony


deep relaxation aided by ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’


sharing readings and songs together: from the Heart Sutra to ‘Just William’, from ‘Nam myoho renge kyo’ to ‘Ubi Caritas’, from Plum village to a gospel choir


waiting at table to meditate together before eating together – reminiscent of the ‘old days’ at Woodbrooke, when we served at table


hugging mindfully


the quality of listening to one another in the ‘insight sharing’ group


the sense of connection to one another and to the world beyond as we ended our early meditation by bowing to the Buddha within one another and to the new day


happily babbling baby during meeting for worship


And what did I learn:


how to sit on the floor


that everything we do can be a ‘practise’


that the real practise begins when the meditation ends


where the next step on my journey lies


to be grateful for stairs


the deep joy of being totally present in the moment


This retreat was based on the teachings of Thich Naht Hanh and led by Murray Corke of the Community of Interbeing and Tim Peat Ashworth of Woodbrooke. My thanks to them and to all the participants.




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