Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Upaya Zen Center

This past summer I had the good fortune to spend almost a week at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM, first as a guest practitioner and then as a participant in a weekend retreat entitled Transforming Suffering: A Five Energies Approach to Service and Social Change.  As a guest practitioner, I lived, worked, and meditated with the residents and Buddhist priests. We practiced mindfulness as we ate, cleaned, and worked on the grounds, and much of the time was spent in silence. The experience was essentially one of service to the common good as well as an opportunity to deepen our own spiritual practice. The weekend class, led by Buddhist teacher and social activist Fleet Maull, was tailored for people working as caregivers and included chaplains, hospice workers, therapists, doctors, and teachers. Through experiential exercises, reflection, and discussion we explored how to use our wisdom, compassion, courage, clarity, and resilience (the five pillars of Buddhism) to help others cope with their pain and suffering. This training and practice in mindfulness, being fully present with others, and compassionate care-giving will strengthen my ability to be a compassionate and effective teacher and colleague.

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