Opening to Life [Audio]

Opening to Life, by Mary Grace Orr:

[ai_playlist id=”200039″]

About Mary Grace Orr:

Lately, my own practice is moving more and more into the monastic world. As I teach out of that nourishment, I find people hungry for the traditional, solid forms of the Dharma. I see people’s lives changing when they engage in these forms. Certainly, as I deepen my own Sutta study, I find the traditional ideas so helpful it encourages me to delve further.


To start off tonight, I have the special secret instructions for your post-retreat. First, YouTube meditation, which is going to YouTube, and bring up “what does the ___ do?” I think we should incorporate it into the retreat, although a group of Harvard Medical School students who seem to have spare time on their hands. Anyway, enjoy in the end. It will fit right in.

So, I want to start off with a poem tonight. This is a reading from ___ and it’s called “It’s a New Beginning.” And I’m reading it, because it may feel like it’s the end of the retreat, but it’s also the beginning.

In out of the way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wonder,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you are ready to emerge.

For a long time, it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you will do self on,

Still, unable to live what you have outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety,

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered, would you always live like this?

Then, the delight when your courage kindled,

And out you stop into new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plentitude opening before you.

While your destination is not yet clear,

You can trust the promise of the opening.

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning,

That is that one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure,

Hold nothing back,

Learn to find ease and risk.

Soon, you will be home.

And a new rhythm for your soul,

Senses the world that awaits you.

So, we’ve been sitting together for nearly a week. A week of silence and rain, and cold wind, and hot sun, and crickets, and turkeys, and struggle, and tears, and ___, and sitting, and walking, and sitting, and walking. And it’s been a week of immersion in the body. Really immersing in this. Amazing event. Holding as various parts with attention and with gratitude. And tomorrow, you, your 32 parts, all of the parts will leave. The 32 parts sort of go with us, which I guess makes it a portable retreat.

And we head back to work. You know. We head back to work with the work to automobiles, to TVs, to computers, to voice mail, and email, and texting. It’s a little overwhelming, and my guess is that many of you have this sense of, “Oh, what am I going to do?” Especially those of you who are new.

How do we practice in the midst of our extra-ordinary busy lives as Bob was mentioning this morning? How can we carry the healing that we’ve experienced here this week into the busyness of those lives? And how can we trust what you have begun to find here?

So tonight, I want to continue the theme of last night’s talk, actually, Bob’s talk, to explore even more how we suffer in our daily lives. And most particularly, to continue the theme of how we get caught in stories. And the stories—the stories are like houses that we inhabit. We move in and we look out through the windows and that’s how we see our world. It’s from the inside of the stories. And some of those stories as we begin to talk about last night can be very strong, and they can be very distractive.

So the questions that we all have are things like, how can we live with wisdom? How can we live with whatever wisdom has a reason for doing this week? How can we live and still stay grounded in our bodies this week with the ___ and the reflection on the body parts, and the walking practice, and just being here in nature. It’s a very grounding kind of time.

So, this isn’t going to be a practical you know, how to sit every day, and how to find a meditation group, that kind of thing. We’ll talk a bit about that in the morning. But I do want to try to convey to what has been most helpful to me as I live a householder’s life in the world.

So tonight, we’re going to talk about the story called “Mary Grace goes to Burning Man.” So, nearly 18 years ago, my husband Russel and I were sitting in the office of our beloved therapist, and we had been working with him in about a few years. It kind of made our way out of a really serious crisis in our relationship. And on occasion, I deal with him was that we would see him wander in the bus alone, but anything that came up in those sessions with him that were one-on-one had a big fair game for the couple sessions. So we were there and ___ session is kind of going on and at some point, George sort of leans forward in his chair, and he looks at Russel and he says, isn’t there something you need to tell me, right? So, one of those not good moments in therapy, right? So, poor Russel, he took a deep breath, and he said, I want to go to Burning Man. So this was a long, this is 18 years ago, right? So, it’s just wasn’t quite the thing as it is now. So, I had no idea what to think. I didn’t know anything about Burning Man. And you know, he tried to explain a little bit there in the session and then he talked a little more about it as time went on, and the more I learn, the more afraid I got. And you know, and then I began to see pictures of the gatherings. And that didn’t help any. I got even more scared. And the fear just intensified, and intensified, and intensified. And I got very, very stuck. Really stuck. I was filled with attachment.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]

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