Sharing                                                                  Eugene Chen

Every month, a one-day meditation retreat is held for the meditation practitioners at the Dharma Drum Mountain San Francisco Bay Area Center. Together with their fellow practitioners, they come together to deepen their practice through several different forms of group meditation. This month, the one-day retreat was on Sunday, March 22nd, and we were fortunate to have Venerable Chang-Zhai coming in from New York to lead the retreat.

The moment that I stepped into the center at 9AM in the morning, immediately, a sense of serenity fell upon me. There were very minimal sounds that I could hear inside the center, as noble silence was observed throughout the retreat.  Practitioners were advised to keep clear of personal interactions such as eye contact - in order for them to truly look into their mind and reflect during the retreat. Very quickly, I completed sign-in and proceeded to my assigned spot inside the Chan Hall. Shortly after, the retreat started.

As usual, the retreat began with the standard eight form moving meditation, led by Venerable Chang-Zhai. Then, a short introduction of rules was given, followed by a half-an-hour sitting meditation. After the first session of sitting meditation, Brother Hogan led us through a short mindful yoga session, before we proceeded to the second session of the sitting meditation. The morning program concluded with a short Dharma Talk given by Dharma Master Sheng Yen through recording. After having a hearty lunch prepared by our loving volunteers from the culinary team, there was a short break for the participants to practice walking meditation on their own. Shortly after, the afternoon program resumed, with similar routines as the morning session for further practice: Moving Meditation, Dharma Talk, and Sitting Meditation. The day concluded with a group sharing by the participants.

To me, it was another day of self-reflection and exploration of the mind. Having been busy with school and life lately, I have not been practicing meditation in a while prior to the retreat. During the morning session, it was a bit challenging for me. My mind was drifting, and my legs were sore. Time passed slowly for me, and embarrassingly, I was aware that my mind was looking forward to the sound of the chime the whole time. In the afternoon, however, I was able to slowly pick up my practice and method again. Gradually, I was no longer paying attention to my legs, and I was able to bring back my mind whenever wondering thoughts arise. The notion of time ceased to exist for me at this point. It wasn’t until the chime rang again—this time unexpectedly—did I realize that the retreat has ended. Refreshed, I knew that I was ready to go back to my daily life again—this time around, with a still mind.