Today I attended a half day Meditation Retreat with Bhante Sujatha of The Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple in Woodstock, IL. Bhante Sujatha regularly visits Las Vegas to hold retreats and various meditation classes bringing together community and sharing with us Dhamma, teaching us how to cultivate loving kindness into all aspects of our lives.

The retreat was held in the beautiful penthouse of Dr. David Snyder, founder of the Vipassana Foundation, where he had an amazing meditation hall available for all of us to sit and meditate, learn and discuss. Practicing loving kindness and mindful breathing meditations, I found the walking meditation to be quite insightful for me, probably because my everyday meditation practice is done while sitting.
During the walking meditation, Bhante instructed us to be mindful of three steps – our foot being on the ground, raising in the air and back onto the ground. As we all silently walked through the home I noticed how I was present during only when my feet were touching the ground and not in the air… when my foot was in the air my thoughts were to hurry up and touch the ground. I translated that experience on how I can tend to hurry through my own life, wanting to keep moving forward just to keep moving which then caused me to ask myself: “Where am I not being mindful in my own steps throughout the various aspects of my life?”
Which is a question that I am still looking within for further insights since I didn’t want to start finding answers at that moment during the walking meditation because I was wanting to remain present with the exercise.
The moment when I brought my attention fully and mindfully throughout the entire walking process, even when my foot was in the air going into the next step, I was immediately taken over with a surge for gratitude and feeling so blessed with the ability to walk and how this simple act many of us, including myself tend to take for granted. This momentarily bliss forever imprinted in my memory quickly turned into sadness for those who were unable to walk and I found my eyes quickly welling up with tears. Breathing deep and allowing myself to observe these myriad of emotions running through my body brought forth so much insight for me and how quickly emotions can grab a hold of you and without that mindfulness and ability to detach and observe the mind, one can easily become this emotion. Another insight I had at this moment was why in my moment of bliss did my thoughts quickly turn into sadness, was it my inability to fully experience this bliss or was it my compassion that I have for the world or was it both???? hmmmm…. Within that gratitude and blessings for walking was sadness and guilt for the ability to do so while others can’t… ahhhh a heavy heart I can have for the world at times.
During a tea break, I connected with a kindred spirit today who asked me a beautiful question “What brings me to learn these Buddhist Teachings and Meditations?” I had explained to her my studies of Buddhism that began in my early teens and my curiosity in learning various meditation styles so that I may expand my own practice and intuitively choose which one will work for my Spirit from day to day. Her question kept ringing through my head today and after much contemplation of the many things I have learned through my own experiences with the Teachings, the one thing that I keep and use daily and especially comes in handy when I’m conducting readings is the idea of detachment and being the observer to our thoughts, stories, emotions and not labeling any as being good and bad and to accept it as is. At Invision, the clairvoyant school I attended, we called this space “neutrality”. As I write this and look back, maybe my interest in Buddhism as a teen helped to cultivate that neutral space growing up to prepare me to the present moment of being in service through my readings 🙂 Oh how Divine the Universe is! Thank you!
I look forward to working with Bhante again, he is a great mentor to me and I’ll have to share more insights especially with our one on one talk we had last Wednesday 🙂
I’ll keep you all posted as to when he returns for another retreat. For you Chicagoans, you can visit his his Temple in Woodstock for meditation classes and various events.
Blessed Be! Namaste!