Just returned from Coming Home: A Mindfulness Meditation weekend for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer Communities. Led by Larry Yang and Maddy Klyne, it was a very interesting, and in a lot of ways challenging, experience.
The work was primarily based on Vipassana Meditation. So although my work in the yoga community, mindfulness, and enlightenment intensives have incorporated this sort of work, I am not sure I expected a full day of sitting / walking meditation. I do not have that sort of formal meditation practice, so there was some challenge there. Specifically, so much of the weekend vibed "enlightenment intensive" that I was ready to roll up my sleeves and dig in to one of the questions, such as "Who Am I?" - and that's just not the point of Vipasanna. It's all about letting go, softening, observing, cultivating a quiet and aware mind - and specifically not about getting somewhere. Maybe there is a quiet goal of opening, of awakening - but certainly not the drive towards a "direct experience of the truth" (with the laughter, tears, joy, awe, etc. that go along with that) of the EI.
So I struggled. As I stepped out into the walking meditation, I felt the urge to dance around. The TREE. Don't you see it? The TREE! (and any other thing that caught my EI-blown awake mind, there was much to distract, the Garrison Institute grounds were beautiful, and the weekend attendees were equally amazing) as the other attendees were watching their footfalls diligently in walking meditation. Although the direct experience fades as one lives ones life, I am not sure that one ever forgets the substance. I may not feel that blown open every day, but having felt that a few times, its hard not to feel like running ahead on the path.
Does a direct experience ruin one for the diligence and patient path of vipasanna? Must ask one of my teachers for his thoughts....
It was, for all that, a lovely weekend. Held in functional silence, I did not get much chance to mix, mingle, and network, but I have no doubt I would adore most of the folks there, give 1/2 a chance. I do wish there had been more space for getting to know people. The facility was wonderful for this sort of retreat. The food - amazing - vegetarian, clean, delicious.
There seems to be some interest in doing this again, and I suspect I will be there if they do!