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Posts Tagged ‘Silence’

View from The Gatehouse,” Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos,
December 8, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 





Sleepwalking I arrive
but silence awakens me
to our suffering










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On this second full day of silence, something snaps. I thought I came here because: I had vacation time to kill, I wanted to give myself a gift, it had been a long time since I’d been to a silent retreat in Taos with Natalie Goldberg. Today I am reminded that this is not play. When I go into silence, pain emerges. I wake up.

A quick step out of silence to give you an update, QM. I am also reminded that I met you here, that our friendship was created in silence and through the humanity and compassion we find when we come here. I am grateful for you, for all the friends I have met through Taos, and for everything I have learned about myself through coming here.

I am not writing much since arriving. In fact, I have only thus far written in the zendo during collective Writing Practice. Outside of class, I have spent my free time in The Gatehouse, where I’m staying. I’ve read, slept, and worked on collages. After I publish this post, I might venture out for a walk. I crave the cold air in my lungs.

It is good to be here, to wake up to all of me. To be humbled again.

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-Related to posts Sitting in Silence and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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After The Storm, Holding My Breath Series, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

After The Storm, Holding My Breath Series, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





snow on the blue porch
quiet, listening to silence
in a pregnant pause





-posted on red Ravine, Monday, February 4th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

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Tagged, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, from the Holding My Breath series, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

 –Holding My Breath – Wind, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, from the Holding My Breath series, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved


PRACTICE – Holding My Breath – 10min

Friday, May 4th, 2007

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Mabel’s Lights, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February, 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

-Mabel’s Lights, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, from the Wake Up series, all rights reserved


For all the writers who are meeting soon to write, read, listen, and keep the connections going. Here’s to community.


 Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

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My visceral response to your sketch of Dirty Dog and Retro Wallpaper is black dog – the Black Dog of loneliness. Late at night in Taos, the silence would waken me. But it wasn’t silence; it was the dogs of Taos barking in the distance. Dogs have always scared me. And when we walk Morada Lane from Mabel’s to go into Caffe Tazza to write, I’m always aware of the dogs, lurking around fence corners.

A friend in art school started a series of paintings the year we graduated. She called it her Black Dog series. She was obsessed with research on black dogs. It took me a while to understand what she was talking about. But when I saw her brooding wall-sized images, I knew. It was a gut reaction. Deep loneliness. I visit the place often. There is no map out. You have to find your own way. She painted. I took photographs. We weren’t running. We were looking to know the Dog.

What I want to say is that loneliness is a part of writing. And sometimes loneliness feels like Dirty Dog looks – bared teeth, facing off, marking territory. Underneath, the loneliness drives me. Like fear, I’ve learned to embrace it. Even when my life is so good I can’t stand it – even then, late at night when the whole house is sleeping, and I’m up writing – the Black Dog is there, lurking around fence corners.

I still wake up in the middle of the night, scared and lonely. I try not to push it away. The last few weeks, I’ve been listening to Writing Down the Bones on CD. What I love about books on CD is that I hear the writer’s voice. I first read it almost 20 years ago. Revisiting it now, I am taken back to Beginner’s Mind, where I need to be to teach. It grounds me. I find comfort in the gnarled roots of other writers’ loneliness.

I’m tired. I’ve really been pushing myself the last few weeks. On the way to work this morning, I realized I wasn’t in my body. I almost hit Liz’s car backing out of the driveway. Looking for ground, I pushed the button on the Alpine stereo; I glanced up to see the sun rising in billowing blush clouds in the distance; I listened to a writer read her work. The early sky reminded me of mornings walking from my room at Mabel’s to the zendo. A deep calm came over me.

Stopped at the light on the corner of Winnetka and Bass Lake Road, crawling to my day job, I was just sitting. Natalie was revisiting the chapter on Engendering Compassion and the way she used to be tortured by loneliness. But something had turned. The dog doesn’t come for her anymore. She seeks him out. She hunts the dog.

The last thing I heard as I turned the corner on green –

“When I don’t feel loneliness, I know I’m not in connection with the edge of my life. I look around for that Black Dog, loneliness, and make sure it’s near me.”

Listen for the Black Dog.


Thursday, March 15th, 2007

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A dust of rose blue floated off Taos Mountain. It was hard to see the stars for the full light of the moon. I slushed along in $16.99 calf-high boots I purchased from Walmart after I arrived in Taos. The gray-haired woman bustling around the shoe department seemed harried in her dark blue smock. She wasn’t happy to be working. I resisted the urge to swoop her away. New Mexico in December. I was grateful to be in Taos.

The writing retreat was everything I imagined. Even more. The “more” part is important. Because sitting in silence means making more room. More space to receive. Writing rises out of silence.

I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and got up every morning for meditation. My routine went something like this:

wake up five minutes before alarm goes off, turn the black switch on the Westclox travel alarm to off, plant two feet firmly on the floor, peek out the window to see if the morning light is hitting Taos Mountain, turn on the wobbly brass table lamp beside the twin bed, head to the high ceilinged bathroom, rub the sleep out of my puffy eyes, flush the toilet, stand up, walk to the carved oak dresser and gather my clothes for the day: a pair of Jockey For Her underwear, Hanes cotton bra, a pair of SmartWool socks (made from New Zealand’s specially bred Merino sheep), baggy flannel pants with loose waist, and a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt from Target washed 1000 times.

The shower was one of my favorite parts of the day. I could feel the water hit every cell of my body. The last dark morning of the retreat, I looked up through the slit of window below the adobe ceiling and saw the full moon high and shining between blowing branches of cedar spread low and wide along the outside wall.

I showered by moonlight.

Moisture is what I crave when I go to New Mexico. Water – inside and out. The 7000 foot altitude gives me headaches and dehydrates my body. Or maybe it’s the Taos Hum. I took a long shower every morning. Then I brushed my teeth, slapped Crew Fiber in my hair, dressed, donned a corduroy jacket and Liz’s “Itasca State Park – Mississippi Headwaters” sweatshirt (that smelled like her), and crunched over the frosty ice, across the gravel parking lot, up the wooden stairs, by the black and white sign tacked to a post that said Silent Retreat In Progress, past the Mother Ditch and the giant cottonwood with seven heads, and over to Mabel’s log cabin.

At 7:30, the meditation guide for the morning would say, “Sitting.” And I’d sit for 30 minutes before breakfast. Some days it seemed like 10 hours. Other mornings, I was disappointed when the bell rang – three taps on the rim to start meditation, one to leave the Zendo. Then breakfast.

Breakfast at Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Don’t get me started.

I’d have a large helping of Jane’s scrambled eggs, 3 pieces of sausage (the bacon is too crispy and overdone for me), 2 tablespoons of sweet applesauce to balance the salty meat, 5 to 8 quarter cuts of  honeydew melon, fresh strawberries, a 16 ounce glass of whole milk, a juice glass of OJ, and a medium cup of coffee with half and half.

If there was a special Southwestern breakfast dish, I would add a taste of it to the plate, picking out the bits and slices of mushroom. I love the flavor but hate the rubbery texture. Otherwise, I stuck to my purist routine of scrambled eggs.

After breakfast, I’d slow walk to my room, staring at Taos Mountain against the clearest cerulean sky, unlock the two latches to enter Door 6, use the bathroom, tidy up, floss and brush my teeth, and get ready for the 9:30 sit, walk, write and the dharma talk that followed.

That was my morning routine from Monday to Friday, December 4th to 8th, 2006.

Heaven. It felt like heaven. But Buddhists don’t believe in heaven. There is only practice. Anchoring the mind to breath, tip of tongue, soles of feet, sound, hands.

And emptiness. 
 
Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – TAOS

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