On June 8th, 2014, (9:30-3:30pm) Dharma Drum Vancouver Centre hosted its first Gardening Meditation event. There were about 40 participants altogether ranging from teenagers to seniors in their seventies both males and females. We started the day with the Eight-form Moving Mediation guided by Venerable Chang Wu. It was a wonderful way to start the day as we were taught how to relax while moving, and how we should be mindful of our every movement. One participant shared that she got a lot out of this practice because the Venerable reminded everyone to exert the least amount of energy when doing the movements as well as acting in our daily life. She said that she have never heard that before and found it extremely useful.
After the 8 Form Moving Meditation, there was a short presentation on the Life Cycle of an Apple Seed, Mother Nature then lastly the Tools and Method we will be using when gardening. The presentation by Venerable Chang Min was very informative and insightful. There were lots of valuable information but what I found most useful was a particular slide on the power point presentation where three words surfaced: Breath, Smile, and Now. Three simple words exemplify and summarize the spirit and practice of “Chan/Zen". It was powerful because the Venerable reminded us that while we are gardening we need to focus and be mindful of our "breath", then she told us to "smile". The reason for a smile is because we are most relaxed when we have a relaxed smile on our face and it's a reminder for us to stay relaxed. Lastly the word "now" is a reminder for us to focus on the present moment which is being mindful of our movements such as our hands and body while we use the tools to dig out the weeds. Three very simple words speak volumes and easily summarize the method of Chan/Zen regardless of whether we are doing gardening work, laundry, walking, or just simply carrying out our daily life routines. I found the three words extremely helpful and invigorating.
We were out in the garden for a good part of the day and we were lucky because the sun was out. Though some participants did comment that it was really hard digging the weeds out because the soil was so dry and hard from the sun; but I like to think that regardless of whether it was easy or hard, the important thing was to stay on the method of being mindful, relaxing and cherishing the moment. That way we can experience things to the fullest and have fun at the same time.
Towards the end of the event, Venerable Chang Wu numbered us off into groups and we had a chance to share our thoughts about the day in our small groups. Mostly everyone in our group thoroughly enjoyed the event and had lots of positive things to say and one particular part that was enjoyable for them was pertaining to the "noble silence" which was great to hear. One participant in our group commented that she was able to use the method quite well during the first half of the Gardening Meditation; however, after a delicious lunch, she became a bit drowsy and noticed she was not able to focus as well as the morning so would have liked it if the Venerable could have reminded us again about the method of practice while gardening in the second half of the day.
Thank you to all the Venerables and volunteers that made this day possible. All in all, it was a really fun and successful day and I, along with many others are really looking forward to another well sought out Gardening Meditation event again.
(Shared by Nancy Tseng, Dharma Drum Vancouver Center)