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First Retreat at the Vancouver Chan Meditation Centre

The recent one-day retreat on March 9, though perhaps a bit short by some standards, was a good introduction for newly-initiated meditators such as myself to get our feet wet with a more sustained effort and the opportunity to improve the breadth and quality of our practice. In addition to familiar practices, leader Ven. Chang Wu introduced us to mindful eating, which transformed a normally mundane act into a pleasant one comprised of appreciation and focused awareness. Lunch seemed to very naturally invite our attention --crunchiness, softness, flavour and smell giving way to a sense of the body receiving "reinforcement". Food, instead of being edible merchandise, became a gift from the world that produced it.

A bit of exercise was gained with outdoor mindful walking, as well as being a learning session for us all regarding the practice in an urban environment. Mostly my focus failed me, but I also learned to acknowledge that there are times for "intended focus" and times for attending to the changing environment. We did negotiate the crosswalks with safety in mind. In other areas I had no excuse for the temptations of the warmth of the sun or the singing birds that stole me away on that excellent day. And although I succumbed repeatedly to those pleasures, I couldn't find it within me to chastise myself. I was happy and I was learning, and judgement seemed a poor path to follow.

The afternoon provided more meditation indoors and opportunities for helpful personal interviews. In all, the day was most beneficial; the monastics unwaveringly helpful, trustworthy and an example to us. Thank you all and all those behind the scenes who supported the day. Metta.

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