On Retreat

At the end of this month the Dharma Friends Community retreat, Developing Breath Meditation, will be held at Durham’s Avila Retreat Center. This post was initially written to assist the people who are coming to this retreat. It is offered here as a support for participation in retreats in general.

What makes a retreat? Well, there is a place designated for the purpose of holding the retreat. There are retreat teachers and retreat managers creating and supporting the structures that contain the retreat (e.g. a schedule, bells). There are retreat activities: meditation, dharma talks, meals…

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Morning Gratitude Reflection

It can be interesting to investigate the kinds of thoughts that usually occupy our minds when we first wake up in the mornings. Do we tend to jump out of bed as soon as our eyes open already running the day’s to-do list before our feet hit the ground? Do we linger on the edge of sleep reaching back to coax one more snooze from the night’s rest. What kinds of thoughts jump to center stage as waking consciousness emerges from sleep?

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Right Mindfulness - An Overview

The term ‘mindfulness’ has become widely used in recent years. Generally, in current popular-culture, the word mindfulness is employed to mean ‘bringing full non-judgmental attention to an aspect of present-moment experience.’ This approach to the practice of mindfulness has been used to beneficial effects in many different areas of contemporary society.

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Five Themes for Frequent Reflection

We begin practicing the Five Themes for Frequent Reflection by bringing our awareness to four of the most obvious facts concerning human existence. These four facts - we grow old; we get sick; we die; we lose all of the people and the things that we love - are at once totally apparent and somehow hard to keep a grip on. We don’t want to see them. We look away. We want to feel as if our youth, our health, our lives and our loves belong to us. And they don’t.

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The Hurricane

A couple of weeks ago Hurricane Florence came bringing us a message. The basic message was a louder more insistent version of one that arrives on our doorsteps on a regular basis. Florence told us that things change, and that sometimes things change dramatically. The rains fall. The wind blows. And overnight the place where we have constructed ‘home’ as best we could becomes imperiled.

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New Group Practice Opportunities

In the coming weeks two of Durham’s Early Buddhism practice communities will provide new opportunities to participate in small groups. Here at Dharma Friends Community we will offer ‘Beginning the Buddha’s Path,’ and our friends at the Eno River Buddhist Community will begin a new cycle of their Sutta Study Group.

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All Experience is Preceded by Mind

Read and reflect on these verses from the Dhammaphada over the next week or so. You may want to choose a particular time of day to do the reading – perhaps on waking in the morning or before sleep. You may want to post the reading in a spot where you are likely to encounter it throughout the day – on the fridge or bathroom mirror, as a screen saver on your computer or phone. Notice any effects of doing this practice and, if you’d like, keep some journal notes on what you notice.

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The Human Predicament

It’s hard to be a person. We seem to have been made to want what we cannot have. That’s a predicament. Not just an occasional-hiccup kind of a predicament either. We want what is pleasing to our bodies and to our minds – all of the time. And, on top of that, we want this for others as well. At a minimum, we want those who we love to be happy enough most of the time. Yet, since the experiences that please us cannot endure, we will never find lasting happiness in trying to hold to them.

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