In July, over forty of us from near and far gathered at the Sacred Ground of Khandroling in Buckland, Massachusetts to take part in a 10-day multi-faced retreat. Arriving, I experienced four (almost forgotten) joys: seeing cars and realizing we were together again, greeting vajra sisters and brothers with actual hugs, practicing in person rather than online, and experiencing the power that group practice creates.
The retreat used several venues - the main Vajra Hall, a tent by the stupa, and a platform by the pond. A variety of courses were presented, including Prima Mai's Dance of the Song of the Vajra Course (via Zoom), guided Pranayama, Yantra Yoga, Shiné/Lhagthong, Semdzins, 25 Spaces, and other practices and events.
During the mornings, many participated in the live (afternoon) sessions of the dance course from Merigar. We overcame minor internet glitches and danced on three mandalas. Following Prima Mai's meticulous instructions, we refined many details of the dance, with Bodhi overseeing us. Slowly, slowly we learned to open into a broader awareness of the pamos and pawos around us.
After lunch, I (as an SMS instructor) led sitting meditation. On the first day, we started with basic Shiné, focusing on a "Tibetan A" atop a stick, then afterwards discussed our experience of the calm state. Each day we extended our Shiné technique further, touching upon Lhagthong/movement and talking about what we'd observed in our practice. On the final day we sat facing the sky and raised our gaze into space. Three participants saw Padmasambhava in the clouds!
During the next session, I guided a Semdzin practice. Our Vajra Hall, with its open 360° view on top of a hill, is a perfect setting from which to send syllables of sound into space! During discussions each person added to our collective knowledge, and we discovered correspondences between these Semdzins (intended to produce effects of Shiné/Lhagtong) and our earlier sitting meditation.
On the final day we gathered for a Mandarava Ganapuja. With the Song of the Vajra, dancers filled two mandalas, moving in graceful synergy. It was joyful to feel such harmony and fluidity, calmness and movement, in what our Master bequeathed us.
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