Tag Archives: Tassajara…CHECK!!!

31

7 Jun

Love the excerpt below.

Nothing Solid by Pema Chodron

Moving away from our experiences, moving away from the present moment with all our habits and strategies, always adds up to restlessness, dissatisfaction, unhappiness. The comfort that we associate with concretizing and making things solid is so transitory, so short-lived. 

Moving into our experiences- whether it’s the opening experience of love and compassion or the closing-down experience of resentment and separation- brings us an enormous sense of freedom: the freedom of nothing solid. Something about “nothing solid” begins to equal freedom. In the meantime, we discover that we would rather feel fully present to our lives than be off trying to make everything solid and secure and engaging our fantasies or addictive patterns. We realize that connecting with our experiences by meeting it feels better than resisting it by moving away. Being on the spot, even if it hurts, is preferable to avoiding. As we practice moving into the present moment this way, we become more familiar with groundlessness, a fresh state of being that is available to us on an ongoing basis. This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky- that’s called liberation. 

40

29 May

When I first started this project, I remember thinking 65 days in or so (way too early)… what the hell did I get myself into? I can’t possibly find something to share for the next 300 days and some of my goals seemed impossible to accomplish- I couldn’t  imagine how I would figure out how to drive across the country or learn how to tango.

It all seemed impossible yet I kept putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

Every time I felt overwhelmed I would remind myself to take it a day at a time…a moment at a time if I had to, and that somehow, someway it would come together.

Yesterday it hit me…tomorrow is day 40. I turn 30 in 40 days! The fact that 30 is so close isn’t the shocking part anymore! I’m in shock that I actually followed through with the project. I am not going to lie, some days were pretty hard….like this day and this day and this day and this day and this day– haha.

But it’s been the most amazing, surprising and fulfilling experience.

It has taught me to appreciate my life in a way I didn’t know possible. So here I am on day 40 and all I want to do is soak it all in.

I feel so grateful.

It’s the best birthday gift I have ever given to myself.

*

Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. 
– Earl Nightingale

48

21 May

I woke up this morning to this note from the universe and it could not have been more perfect considering I am 48 days away from turning 30 and my crazy journey is coming to an end.

……

The very best moment in any long journey that makes your dreams come true, Kate, comes not on the day you realize they have, but on the day you realize how little they matter compared to loving the adventure they’ve inspired. 

Don’t ask me why, I just know what I know – 
    The Universe

……

365til30: instagram  @kate365, twitterfacebook

166

23 Jan

TASSAJARA

I feel like my adventure at Tassajara was a million years ago and I miss it. It was one of the first goals I crossed off my list back in September and is one of my favorite 365 til 30 memories. Ill admit it was one of the hardest goals to tackle but so worth it. SO WORTH IT.  I walked into the experience not knowing what to expect and I was surprised by what it brought into my life- a calm, a quietness with myself that I have never experienced, a kinder approach to myself and the world around me. I became my own best friend there and I liked it,

I didn’t realize how much I missed Tassajara until I had lunch with a fellow Tassajaran named Tarquin last week. I haven’t seen him since the day I left and it had been too long. He was the very first person I met when I arrived there. At the time I was feeling every emotion in the book- exhausted, scared, happy, anxious, excited and totally overwhelmed. I felt like a fish out of water and I couldn’t stop asking myself…”what did you get yourself into?”

The minute I got there I was paired with Tarquin in the kitchen to cut vegetables and he immediately made me feel calm. He is a generous spirit. We chatted about life and his time at Tassajara as we chopped carrots. He was from the LA area as well. This was his first time at Tassajara- he had been there for  3 weeks at that point and planned to be there 3 more. My first question was “why would you sign up to be at Tassajara for 6 weeks? Why not ease your way in with a week or two? What if you didn’t like it” He said “well, I thought if I am going to do it then do it.” I was pretty impressed with this.

He assured me that everything was going to be fine and in that moment I knew that I had a friend in him and I felt a sense of calm. Over the next week we enjoyed many more talks and laughs but since much of our time was spent in silence we didn’t get to know each other too much more.But luckily we got another chance.  The night before I planned to depart he asked me if I could give him a ride back to LA because something sudden came up back home that he needed to attend to. My response was…why not! All part of the adventure! Our ride home was hysterical…we talked and talked and talked and talked. Actually I don’t think we ever shut up. We were both so chatty after having to be quiet for so long!

When I dropped him off at his house we hugged and said that we would grab coffee or lunch soon and 4 months later we finally did! When I saw him I felt like I was transported back to Tassajara. I could almost smell the place and a bunch of memories flooded back. For as hard as the experience was I missed it terribly. Tarquin mentioned he was thinking about going back this spring.

NEWS FLASH: I’m thinking about trying to get back there this spring as well. We will see…so much up in the air right now.

Until then Tarquin and I have decided to get back into our meditation practice together and will be attending a meditation sitting…from 7:30-9 pm next week. Ouch. Nothing like throwing yourself back in full speed.

*

“All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.

Buddha

Tarquin!

289

22 Sep

TASSAJARA : COMPLETED

(considering I couldn’t take photos at Tassajara imagine the picture above is me)

TOP 5 EXPERIENCES AT TASSAJARA

(best and worst all rolled into 1…such as life)

1

The 14 mile Drive

The last 14 miles of  my 7 hour trip had me questioning my sanity (and it was only day 1 into my adventure…way too early to be questioning one’s sanity). You see, Tassajara’s website makes it very clear that the last 14 miles descending into Tassajara is treacherous and they even offer a once a day shuttle for a small fee. But, like a fool I thought maybe they were exaggerating when I read this…

Driving Precautions
For the last 14 miles, Tassajara Road is a winding dirt road with sheer drop-offs and a steep, narrow descent over the last five miles. We urge you to observe the following precautions if you CHOOSE to drive this road:Make sure your car is in good working order, paying special attention to brakes, fuel, and cooling system. As you begin your descent over the last five miles, shift into the lowest possible gear and PUMP your brakes as needed. DO NOT apply steady pressure to your brakes or they will overheat. If your brakes begin to overheat or feel mushy, pull over immediately and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes before continuing.

 First lesson about Buddhist…they aren’t dramatic people. They happened to be telling the truth…it was that bad. For future reference when I see “PUMP your brakes” I am going to opt out of the drive. Once I realized the road was not a joke I attempted to turn around but that was impossible considering I had nowhere to turn off other than off a cliff. I drove  5 miles an hour down that 14 mile road and still felt like I was on a rollercoaster. Oh and did I also mention I had no cell reception? I was off the grid at this point so if anything went wrong I was screwed. I did survive the experience but ended up spending a majority of my 6 days at Tassajara worrying about the drive back up.

2

I don’t have to talk to anyone? Awesome 

At Tassajra even during the allowed talking periods you don’t really have to talk to anyone unless you feel the need to and I am a HUGE fan of this. I am also a huge fan of not having my phone or computer and I also have to come clean on something…this includes not having to call my friends and family for 6 days. Sorry guys, I do feel bad admitting this but it’s true. I have never experienced such silence. It was a delight!!  I mean, how often does one get total silence from  everybody and everything and not have feel bad about it. I’m sorry but I can’t  talk…I am at a Buddhist monastery.  BEST EXCUSE EVER.

3

Meditaion & Service

Before Tassajara the most I have ever meditated was 15 minutes and it was usually following an hour-long relaxing yoga class. Tassajara was a tad different to say the least. Every morning at 5:20 a person would go running by all the cabins ringing a bell to beckon us to the Zendo (meditation hall) for morning Zenzo (meditation) and service. Having a person run by my window ringing a bell was a very odd way to be awakened from a deep sleep. There was something very fairy like about it. Actually, I kept imaging a little gnome doing it. As I dragged myself up the hill towards Zendo I would asked myself why oh why I sent myself to Buddhist Boot camp.

During meditation I had to sit on the floor facing a wall and not move for an hour. I always felt very peaceful the first few minutes into my zazen. But, after 20 minutes my back would start to hurt and my mind would start to wander. During this time I often heard crass rap music in my head- very odd. By the 30 minute mark I would start cursing the Buddhist monks for making me sit in such a painful position and cursing the fly that just landed on my face. After 40 minutes my mind and body would finally  just give up and I would just sit and sit and sit. The moments when I was just sitting with my mind blank were very peaceful. I went back to zazen twice a day for those fleeting moments because they made it all worth it,

A service followed meditation every day which I loved despite not knowing what was happening through most of it. The whole room would line up in rows facing the Buddha and would chant and bow in intervals. I just moved my lips and bowed with the others when they did. The first time I heard all the voices chanting together I was hooked because it was so pretty.

4

Bath Time

I heard that Tassajara had a Japanese style bath house but I had no idea what this meant. In retrospect I wish I had looked into it a bit more before departure because upon arrival I quickly learned  that it meant I had  to shower with all the females at Tassajara. It wasn’t a big deal until I got undressed for the first time and  noticed I was the odd one out. Probably the only time in my life I will be self-conscious because I HAD a bikini wax….Oh the stares I got! Though by day 3 I stopped caring and proudly walked my bikini waxed self  around that bath house with my head held high. It was actually pretty cool in there. There was a beautiful natural hot spring spa, a sauna and you could swim in the creek! I didn’t swim naked in the creek with the others because I am scared of bugs but for those who did it looked refreshing!

5

You want me to do what? Work as practice

I knew going in to this I would have to earn my spot as Tassajara by working. I simply had high hopes I would get garden or kitchen duty because both of those sound lovely and peaceful. But no, I got cabin duty…meaning I was a maid for Tassajara…meaning I had to clean toilets. I bitched and moaned through most of it (only in my head of course) but soon I started to get it…it was part of my practice and by the end all my big emotions were gone.

Tassajara says this about “work as practice”….

It is pretty typical to see work as only a means to an end, something that has to be done now in order to do the things we really want to do later. But Zen training takes work far beyond this small point of view. The founder of Tassajara, Suzuki Roshi, valued work so highly as to say, “First clean, then zazen.” When work is practice it is seen as part of our zazen (meditation) practice itself. It is an end in itself. Work and zazen go hand in hand. Both are necessary and without one, the other suffers. When work is practice, it is a Buddha doing what a Buddha does, how a Buddha does it.

So when our work is practice, it is less about what we are doing and more about how we are doing it. This particular how in Zen training refers to bringing our zazen, or Zen, Mind to our workplace. “Zen Mind” is a willingness to engage ourselves wholeheartedly in whatever we are doing in the present moment, whether it is making up a bed, cleaning a toilet, chopping a carrot, or serving a guest in the dining room. It is a radical willingness to go beyond our usual limited, small mind; the one that is ruled by its likes and dislikes, its prejudices, narrow points of view and fixed ways of seeing and doing things. The small mind is fueled by habit energy, which says “I don’t like that kind of work,” or “I know all about that.” When we bring our zazen practice into our work, we take a leap out of that conditioned small mind and into the freedom and generosity of the mind that is accepting, fresh, and full of possibility. This mind is the unfettered mind of a beginner; it is “Beginner’s Mind.”

*

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell”

Buddha


291

20 Sep

What a fun but draining few weeks! Since returning from Tassajara I have tried to sit down and write about my experience but I have felt major blockage! Well, first I blame the nasty cold I came home with and now I blame writers block. I sit down and nothing. Totally frustrating. It has been so hard for me to compile my thoughts about the experience! How do you bottle an experience like that?  My time there still feels like a dream. Considering, I went through such a range of emotions in 6 days…I probably needed more time to decompress than I originally thought. Anyways, I am working very hard at compiling my thoughts clearly so I can give you a feeling for Tassajara. Tomorrow I have the whole afternoon free and all I am going to do is write!

Let’s see what else has been on my mind…I’m getting excited for our trip to Sedona this weekend. It should be a relaxing couple of days of doing nothing other than eating, reading, drinking and hiking. Not in that order necessarily but you catch my drift:) Below I included my two favorite pictures from last year’s trip!

295

16 Sep

INSPIRATIONS, GRATITUDE & SURPRISES

-What Inspired me this week?-

Being on the open road by myself

Tassajara

Adventure

The Hsin Hsin Ming mantra

French classes start this weekend!

The hint of fall in the air

-What am I grateful for this week?-

My experience at Tassajara

Nyquil

Car navigation systems

-What Surprised me this week?-

How liberating it felt to be off the grid

How hard it is to sit quietly for an hour

The fact that I cleaned other people’s toilets

My beautiful welcome home flowers from Brian

How much joy there is to be found in quiet

*

“The world is it’s own magic”

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi