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An Opportunity Misssed August 16, 2014

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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In January I visited Blue Cliff Monastery in New York for two weeks. After my vist I ended up applying for the 1 year volunteer internship program, and a few months later was accepted. A few weeks ago I made the decision not to follow through on my application to the program. It was a difficult decision to make, based on a number of factors, but at the time I felt like it was the best thing to do for myself.

It was back in May when I finally received word that I was accepted into the program, so since that time I had been planning to spend 2015 living at the monastery. To make the decision not to follow through with my plans showed just how much my planning mind had gotten out of control. I had spent a large amount of energy and thought into planning for a future event that didn’t end up happening. It was quite disorienting for me to see how drastically my future plans could change in an instant. It also showed me how insecure and confused I felt when I didn’t have future plans to rely on in my mind as a form of false security and stability.

I was quite upset after making my decision not to go to Blue Cliff. I felt really disappointed, sad, rejected, and unwanted. I felt really disappointed because I felt like I had lost such a wonderful opportunity that I may never have again. I felt like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I had to take up before circumstances changed that prevented me from doing it. Now I am not sure if I ever will have the change to take part in a program like that. My disappointment was greatly increased by just how much I had built up the potential experience in my mind to be so positive and rewarding. I saw how I had made a story about my one year visit at the monastery and how wonderful the experience would be. In the story, I would have such incredible support for practicing mindfulness, and I would be a completely different person at the end, practically rid of my bad habits and imperfections.

I felt really hurt by the experience by how I felt that I was unwanted by the community at the monastery when it didn’t work out that I could visit for one year. I noticed how strongly I reacted to feelings of rejection and isolation. I saw how much I had a need to belong to the community, not only the monastery itself but also to the worldwide Plum Village sangha. I am sure that my feelings of hurt were, and will continue to be, influenced by experiences that I have had in the past at a younger age.

Fortunately, I was able to communicate with the abbess at Blue Cliff over e-mail and phone in a process similar to Beginning Anew. As a result of these discussions back and forth, a lot of the hurt and negative emotions have been resolved. I was able to express the feelings that I had been experiencing without laying blame and saying that any particular person had caused those feelings to happen to me. It was really worthwhile to be able to express myself in words what I had been experiencing, and I learned a lot from the process. It is great to have the opportunity to practice deep looking and nonviolent, non-blaming communication with another practitioner in a safe context.

One great benefit I am enjoying as a result of my decision not to go to Blue Cliff is how much my practice has been strengthened in the past few weeks, particularly my motivation to practice in the present moment. I noticed how I had been relying on a particular place and time (the monastery in the future) to provide me with supports for practicing mindfulness. As a result, I had used that as an excuse to not fully invest myself in practicing mindfulness whereever I happened to find myself, because I would just do it later. After my decision, I realized that I couldn’t wait to go to the monastery to practice. I shouldn’t wait to go anywhere to practice, any retreats or sitting groups. I shouldn’t cling to ideas I have had about past wonderful opportunities I have had to practice mindfulness. Instead, the real practice of mindfulness takes place right here, right now, where I am in this exact moment. Mindfulness is this moment. Mindfulness is this breath.