Labor day weekend in 2016 I had the pleasure to attend a retreat with Anam Thubten organized by the Princeton Buddhist Meditation Group.
This was not a typical meditation retreat, and after settling in on the first evening Anam Thubten encouraged us to all get to know each other before we embarked on 4 days of deepening our practice in the orientation. This retreat had about 50 people and it felt good to meet most of them and chat before practicing together.
The retreat consisted of 6am wake up and periods of meditation and dharma talks by both Anam Thubten and Ani Trime, an American-born Buddhist nun and a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for nearly 35 years. We were well fed and there were plenty of snacks and beverages between sittings for everyone who wanted to recharge. The day ended with a closing service and a 10pm curfew.
The first sitting meditation of the day consisted of beautiful chanting of the three refuges and a guided meditation. We were instructed on the importance of posture which was followed by a concentration meditation on the breath and a suggestion to drop the concentration on the breath after settling and just to be in awareness. The meditations lasted 45 minutes followed by a talk and another 45 minute session.
Anam spoke from the heart and with full awareness during the dharma talk portion of the day. Something about him just exuded a serene calm-abiding nature. I found his teachings meaningful and they cut through to the heart of what the Buddha taught. Here are some of my takeaways from this experience:
- Be grateful for this life. Today is a gift of life and an opportunity to be awake
- Ask yourself “What if I die tomorrow?” – how do I want to spend today, what would I do and who would I reach out to? Meditate of that question.
- Say to yourself – Today I am grateful for my life, my parents, their parents, all my ancestors , and all the people who showed them love and kindness in their life. I am grateful for myself and my practice.
- I am grateful for my children, for their love, for their mother giving her kindness and taking very good care of them.
The retreat was a very good experience for me – practicing dilgently I slowly saw my mind become calm and I became more receptive to experiencing the way things really are instead of fighting with reality.
Having both meditation cushions and chair was also helpful so that I could switch between them and make my body more comfortable.