A December Weekthün in Ottawa


So what did you do over the holidays?

Well, I attended a silent retreat at the Shambhala Centre.

You did what? Why?

It’s hard to explain. I felt the need to slow down after the frenzy and materialism of the Christmas season. I needed to get back in touch with myself. And to review the past year. I could only attend four days of the weekthun but nevertheless it was richly rewarding.

So did it work for you?

I struggled on the cushion and found myself reviewing the recent visit with family over the holidays. I had brought it all back with me. It was hard to bring myself back to the breath. David, the leader of the retreat, encouraged us to be gentle with ourselves. He shared his own struggles with his particular issues which was reassuring. He reminded us that we are not alone as we engage with the dharma.

The weekthün unfolded seamlessly under the quiet and skillful coordination of Sean Dillon. At the beginning and end of each day we chanted the most amazing chants, full of imagery. They were new to me and I was mesmerized by the image of “delighting in licking the blade of nowness.”

Day by day David led us through a review of Tonglen, Compassionate Joy, the Kleshas,
ending with the three components of bodhichitta:

1) refraining from harming yourself and others,
2) trying to be helpful every day, and
3) viewing obstacles as the teacher.

How did you cope with the silence?

To my surprise the silence didn’t bother me. After a few days I felt as if I had always known everybody and that we were all the same deep down.

How did it end?

We celebrated a feast together on Sunday afternoon and then headed back out into the world and the Year of the Firebird.