Monthly OI Days (Continued)
Contributed by Joyce Solomon
These Days of Mindfulness nurture our New England OI sangha, and provide an opportunity for us to practice and learn together, and to become friends.
At each OI DOM, Fern and Michael offer us a Sangha Inquiry Practice, or SIP. We have the opportunity to work with this practice for the upcoming month, and then to share our experiences with it at the next monthly DOM.
Here are some of the topics and SIPs we covered in 2018:
Looking deeply into ourselves and each other to see our interbeing nature. Our aspiration was to strengthen the qualities of inclusiveness, understanding and love within ourselves and our Sanghas, based on the wisdom of interbeing .
Beginning Anew deeply with ourselves and our life. Fern invited us to ask ourselves if we are living the life we really want to be living, doing what we want to be doing? She asked us to look deeply to see our suffering and the habits that are feeding that suffering, and to ask ourselves, what can we let go of?
Another month we did some deep looking into our attachment to views and identity, and the practice of letting go so that we might strengthen our groundedness and stability. We looked at the ways in which we identify ourselves – such as body, appearance, name, age; race, gender and religion; formative stories, jobs, careers, class and relationships.
In the spring Michael spoke to us of building a reservoir, or surplus, of joy and happiness in our lives, not only to deal with our suffering, but also to simply live more happily. Fern and Michael asked us to look deeply into where we find joy in our lives, and to meditate on where we can put down all our burdens, our worries and regrets, and be free, and see if. “this is where joy lives.”
Another of our SIPs invited us to explore the fifth mindfulness training, “Compassionate, Healthy Living,” and generosity, the first of the Six Paramitas, or “perfections.” Fern suggested we experiment with several different sangha practices related to generosity, and gratitude.
On another OI Sunday, Michael spoke to us of the four steps of a healing process, to deepen our relationships and practice.
- Strengthening our well-being and joy. Nourishing the wholesome experience of ourselves as a part of Life, and touching the joy of living. Protecting ourselves with mindful consumption.
- Recognizing and embracing the seed of suffering within us. We use our courage, loving kindness and non-judgement to be with ourselves as we are, developing self-compassion as well as non-blaming of others.
- Touching our interbeing nature and seeing the not-separate-self nature of the seed of suffering. As a part of all Life, we find solid ground from which we release attachment, we practice non-grasping with the suffering.
- Cultivate new pathways in thinking, communication, and activity. We premeditate a beneficial response to the situation, and actively practice to experience the situation differently, giving ourselves the opportunity to choose a new response, rather than the old habit reaction.
At the suggestion of the Sangha we decided to create a fun weekend in August. We designed the weekend to be relaxing and have fun activities where we could spend time together leisurely, as if on vacation with dear ones. Interwoven with practices of sitting, walking and deep relaxation we were able to relax near the pond, play games, walk in the woods, and share fresh home-made vegan ice cream, to top it all off! Many thanks to Laurie Rabut for offering her beautiful home and barn with us on Sunday.
Other Sharings from Morning Sun Practitioners
“It was a summers month, spread out like honey on wheatless bread. Each and every bite I could sing a thousand songs, sunshine on my face and a friend or two to show me the way. This whole experience showed me the greatest power in a healing community. Morning Sun lit up my world, I would go as far to say that if there is any community that could capture the essence of what a beloved community truly looks like, (and I haven’t been to many yet), it would be MS!” ~ Jamiel C
“Finding Morning Sun was like finding a gem buried deep within the heart of my home. My life has been different ever since. The first time I attended, they had a ceremony of loss and mourning. It matched my mood exactly and let me know I was in a safe place to process and express the darker experiences in life. More than that I learned how to brighten in the face of adversity. I learned that there are more than enough conditions to be happy, and that happiness doesn’t happen in spite of difficulties or tragedies but along with them. I could see how even in the depths of my despair, there was so much beauty. Beautiful friends, a beautiful meditation hall, a beautiful altar, and a beautiful practice. The love, happiness, and generosity of these people seems to know no bounds. I find them to be true bodhisatvas. It is a miracle what they are doing together and how they keep going and spreading sunshine with the little material resources they have. I will never be sufficiently grateful. I owe my life to these people. Should I die tomorrow, I know my soul will still inhabit, will still want to bless the community for all its goodness, kindness, and vulnerability. May they and all who come in contact with them know an everlasting peace and join in their aspiration of relieving the suffering of living beings and offering joy, healing us of the wounds and difficulties of modern life.” ~ Michael Bush