Retreat Report–DW

Well, as the retreat was starting, I had the feeling that it was coming at the most inopportune time.  There were so many things in my life seemingly falling apart, that my mind was like a whirlpool of thoughts and emotions, with no solid object to grasp for stability.  Fortunately, the retreat was the event that would help me to tread and swim safely through the storming waters in my mind.

At a certain point in the first sit, I found that I stopped trying to search for answers, or even for calmness.  I just simply gave myself over to the method and allowed all of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions to keep their course without me obsessively grasping at them, trying to put them away, or eradicate them.  The whirlpool continued in the same way it had before the retreat, but I found that I was able to breathe and I was able to see.  I was able to just reside in the whirlpool, watching like a big beautiful ball of energy, without fighting against it, without trying to calm it, without naming and blaming, without trying to escape.  No matter what arose, I was able to sit, see, and let it be.  Yet, I am not saying it was easy.  My body was taut; my head hurt, my blood pressure was higher than normal, my shoulders on fire.  But I knew that none of these things were going to injure me or ruin me, at that moment, or during that day.  By the midpart of the first half of the day, I just gave myself completely into the rhythm of the retreat.  Whatever came before or after, would still be there and there was no reason to bring it up at the moment.  These things would certainly come knocking and I would just greet them with, I don’t know, indifference?  I’m not sure how to describe it. 

Despite the physical solitude and silence, I felt great support from everyone in attendance. As the retreat fades into the past and the days of the week come and go, I still feel that support, as if a seed was germinated and planted inside of me, continuing to be nourished each time I apply the method both on and off of the cushion.

One of the takeaways I have from the retreat is the importance of carrying the method and applying it when moving through the world.  While it was always something I had an intellectual awareness of, it has now become something that brings me great joy.  I feel clumsy in that description, but I don’t know how else to say it.

Thank you Rebecca for guiding us last Sunday.  It was a truly memorable and valuable experience.

Retreat Report–WZ

I am learning to be friendly to myself, to allow myself to feel tired, frustrated. I can tell myself “Let’s see how you feel, what you want to say”, instead of not allowing any negative emotions and thoughts. There is no need to push them away – they are part of myself. I can deal with them in a positive way.

What a relief to know that it is OK to doze off, to make mistakes, to feel tired, to not feel up to par. I am only human. There is a gentleness in allowing. Not allowing things to be causes agitation and tension; constant fighting and rejection causes fatigue.

Just to accept oneself and all as it is brings relief. Causes and conditions determine the way things will be. I need to give myself a break from constantly trying to improve myself, from trying too hard to change. I am good enough the way I am, regardless of my faults and shortcomings. I need to concentrate on my accomplishments in life and allow, accept and be at peace with how things are. It will save a lot of mental anguish, of wanting things to be different from what they are. It will free me from trying to be what I am not. I am no better or worse than anyone else. I am unique and am not obligated to live up to other’s expectations, and nor should I allow myself to get caught up in the pressures, the struggle and the comparisons.

I have been unfairly judged and have unfairly judged others. It hurts me and it hurts others. I do not continually have to keep trying to be better than I am or to try to live up to other people’s ideals. I can be at peace with myself and relax.

Allow

Allow the leg pain, emotions and thoughts

to come, stay and go,

Allow the clouds, rain and the sky to be grey.

Allow all to be just the way it is.

without hoping anything to be different than how it is.

without criticizing, judging and blaming.

Allow and accept all just the way it is…..

All is just the way it supposed to be……. unique and beautiful.

Awakening

This talk and practice session was given at the Rubin Museum on August 17, 2020 via Zoom.  Rebecca spoke on the theme of “Awakening” before guiding the group through a session of meditation.  In this talk, she spoke about what we are awakening to in the midst of our life and how wisdom and compassion is an integral part of our awakening.

The Teachings of Chan Master Sheng Yen

Rebecca was invited to share her teachings at the San Francisco Zen Center on August 5, 2020.  Because of the pandemic, she gave her talk to the sangha via Zoom instead.  She was asked to share the stories of her practice with her late teacher Chan Master Sheng Yen with the sangha who wished to learn more about his style of teaching.

Advice from Great Masters for Living in Uncertain Times

This talk was given at the Vancouver Chan Meditation Center via Zoom on August 1, 2020.  Drawing on The Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, Rebecca explained how the key teachings in the Dharma articulated here as the eight realizations of Mahasattvas can guide us in the cultivation of wisdom and compassion amidst rapid transformations in our world.

Unconditional Kindness to Ourselves and Others in Challenging Times

On May 22, Rebecca was interviewed by Deborah Eden Tull as part of the Mindfulness and Meditation Summit on how to cultivate unconditional kindness to ourselves and others in challenging times.

Session description: In these challenging times, stress, anxiety and fear can unsettle our mind, rendering us more susceptible to falling into our unhelpful habits. Using our meditative practice, we can cultivate unconditional kindness to ourselves by observing the subtle and implicit conditions we have set in order to deserve love and kindness and learning to let go of these conditions. As we unlearn the habit of harshness toward ourselves, we develop greater capacity for kindness to our loved ones and others.

This interview is part of the Mindfulness and Meditation Summit, a free online event where you can return to joy, foster courage and share compassion through the power of mindful awareness. For more information, please visit https://mindfulnessmeditationsummit.com/. This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved.

Working with Anger and Frustration in the Face of Social Injustice

Newark Center for Meditative Culture invited Dr. Rebecca Li to offer a video series on Living in Uncertainty with Clarity and Compassion in the Face of the Pandemic and Social Injustice.  This is the first talk of the series given in a live session on Zoom on June 3.  This talk focuses on how to transform anger and frustration with the social justice into commitment to building a better society.

Living in Uncertainty--flyer

Living Fully is to See Each Moment as Brand New

This talk was given in the Weekly Online Dharma Practice Gathering on May 29, 2020.  Drawing on a quote from Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart, Rebecca talked about how to reflect on and contemplate impermanence deeply in order to live fully by seeing each moment as brand new–by being “willing to die over and over again.”