SYDNEY DDM WEEKEND RETREAT IN THE LOWER BLUE MOUNTAINS
A weekend retreat was held by the Sydney DDM meditation group in the Lower Blue Mountains from 15 - 16 December 2007. To cater for both experienced meditators and newcomers, a mixture of activities was included to assist newcomers to gradually transition to serious sittings. The program incorporated a singing meditation and a video for group discussion on the application of Buddhist concepts in dealing with relationships in daily living. Apart from walking meditation, sitting meditation and tea meditation was also part of the day's program.
The retreat was a great success as the feedback from the group session was indicative of individual's self discovery and realization. The video chosen was called "Hanging Up" and the main theme was pertaining to sibling relationships and relationships between the parents and with all their three daughters. All of us participants recognized aspects of ourselves in the actors such as sibling rivalry and remembering past hurts and quarrels with our siblings, not letting go and holding on to past grudges. Moreover, the ego in us is always in the forefront and our self-centredness detracts ourselves from living in the moment. In our daily busy life, there are moments that we have forgotten to truly appreciate and love those who are close to us by taking them for granted. Thus, we are deluded into thinking that they will always be there and not understanding impermanence.
The concept of impermanence was also brought up in the tea meditation where participants commented on the ever changing nature of the tea leaves, with a distinctive aromatic fragrance prior to a more mature aroma after being soaked in hot water. The various changing hues of the leaves, water and the flower petals bouncing up and down the glass was reflective of the ups & downs of life, the vicissitudes and the rising and abiding. All pains, joys and aspirations are not permanent and change from seconds, minutes, months, years and so on.
Realization of one's discriminating mind was evident when one participant reported smelling oysters in the tea, indicative of a prejudging mind. All the participants were mindful and noted that in our daily functioning, we never see things as they really are and we need to cultivate and practise a non-discriminating mind and see things as they really are.
As most of the participants are not familiar with living in the bush, it was rather challenging for some members to cope with jumping leeches. The colourful rainbow lorikeets proved another great challenge as they chose the time to frolic in the birdbath whilst we were having our tea meditation. Although it was difficult to focus initially, yet this challenge also enabled the practice of acceptance and letting go and immerse into the present moment.
The retreat ended with an enjoyable team building picnic for participants to share their thoughts and experiences.
(contributed by Soo See Yeo in Sydney)