Sesshin—a silent meditation retreat—has always been a time of renewal and reflection for me. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll gain some new insight. The sesshin over this past weekend was the same, but different. There was more free time than I’m used to and I got more sleep than ever, which is quite unusual. But it was just what I needed, even if I didn’t actually know it at the time.
I took many long walks in the surrounding woods and they quickly became a second zendo. The ice atop the Hudson river: one day flowing upstream, the next day flowing down. The weather: one day clear and cold, the next day snowy and magical. A maze of fallen trees, a clear pasture, an icy pond, a patch of green bamboo, a wooden bench to stop and rest, a wolf darting through the trees on the crest of a hill in the distance.
If we can imagine not being separated from anything or anyone all we need do is look to or be outside in nature to realize the ever changing, flowing nature of the world and know that our mind is no different. Trying to stop our thoughts or control our nature is like trying to change the course of a river.