Long drive
Dusty roads mingle in and out of the trees and fields
The journey has started

I didn't know what to expect of the retreat.

I was worried that I wouldn't fit in with the ZEN people.

Personal obstacles seemed to cloud the way. Perhaps I was out of my depth. I knew I was out of my comfort zone.

After a restless night the bell rang outside the cabin to wake us for the day. It was 5-30 am the walk to the Zendo was refreshing. The stars still shining and the birds awaking the trees standing silent and tall. Nervously I took my position on my zafu. The bell rang to start our zazen - a comforting sound I had loved from my two visits to Maitai Zendo in Nelson.

So I settled into Zazen.

My first Dokusan made me nervous. I was honest with Sensei who listened with warmth and compassion. It was not easy to go about one's day in silence especially when my friends know me for my ability to talk non-stop. Each visit to the Zendo for Zazen and workshops helped.

Dokusan was a time of the student seeking guidance from Sensei as my new chosen path was appearing before me.

The theme of the retreat loving kindness and compassion. I learnt new things and I built on my existing knowledge.

Mealtimes were time for enjoying the food and its tastes and textures. The simplicity of just eating.

The silence was not punishment - it was a gift to be cherished. It gave me time to be myself – without all the trimmings.

Zazen practice was just that – to learn Zazen you sit. It was amazing how each sit was different even within the same session. Each time a new gift and lesson. This retreat was a special gift to myself and I still receive its benefits daily.

Candle light or sunlight
Han and birds call
Walking in natures beauty
Seeing clearer
Hearing purer
Sensing peace

gassho Raewyn Haggland

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