Second Day – Anger Manifests
We all spend the day at the Upper Hamlet, a long day with dharma talk, formal lunch and dharma sharing. Inside of me it was boiling and bubbling, my back hurt with a passionate burning sensation which stretched all along the whole length of my spine. I was fed up with sitting and being “happy”. The dharma talk fittingly spoke of a crying baby inside of us that needs attention.
A humble moment occurred when Thich Nhat Hanh, zen monk and founder of Plum Village who was still affected by his illness, was wheeled in during the dharma talk while a hall full of monks, nuns and lay friends sang “I have arrived, I am home“. His presence was immediately noticeable. He was only able to hold up one hand in half prayer pose but with his eyes full of energy he scanned every single face in the hall, going along the rows of people. I also spotted Sister Chân Không, who helped to set up Plum Village, among the group of monks and nuns during the welcome song at the beginning of the day, as if seeking refuge. I was very touched and humbled to be in the same room as those two inspiring individuals.
I was hoping to see one of the monks again that I spoke with the last time I was there but I couldn’t spot him in the crowd. We had shared from the heart our experience of not being recognized and accepted by our parents. There had been no change in my situation apart from a new sort of anger that was brewing at still being ignored by my father and I was intrigued to hear whether there had been any changes for him. Later back at the Lower Hamlet, a girl who attended one of the other dharma sharing groups said how touched she was by a monk in her group who shared with his mother who had come to visit him from the other end of the world and that both had cried. By her description of him I could assume that it was him, tall, big nose, still with his hair, slightly curled and combed back. I was saddened to think I missed him, the lump in my throat tightened. But then I heard we might still meet the other hamlets again for a day of mindfulness later in the week. That would be good, maybe the time just wasn’t right yet.
During dharma sharing I spoke from the heart how I had tried to keep up my practice since my last visit to Plum Village three years ago and how I felt like a failure for my stress related anxiety despite my knowledge and awareness of mindfulness and had come to Plum Village in the hope to find my flow again. But instead, I said, I was experiencing frustration and anger, feeling like I want to run away, but figured that since I was aware of these emotions I might as well sit with them and see what happens. The dharma talk also mentioned how our emotions are not us, that they are mere visitors in our house. So we can sit with them but we won’t let them take over our house.
It was interesting to hear others share how they were struggling, especially in their second week (even if mine was three years later). It seems to be that way. Also, when the need to share arises it appears to be common to feel your heart race or a pressure feeling in your chest. For me it was also accompanied by anger at what others were saying, which subsided once I had said what I felt and was able to listen to the others without that negativity inside of me. I felt a little lighter afterwards, as if someone had lifted the lid off the pressure cooker, even had a few more natural and less constrained conversations with other participants afterwards.
I want to cry, let it all out, but it just wasn’t happening! My 48 hours were up, where were the tears?
And after learning about non-attachment we merrily go into the gift shop and buy pretty and useful things we don’t really need.
The key to a happy and emotionally balanced life is to let the heart speak when it calls out. I wouldn’t be depressed if I had been able to speak up openly and clearly express my opinion, regardless of it being different to others. I need to start doing that. No point in silently agreeing with others only because you get their point. You can bring your own point across as well and calmly work on finding a middle point agreement that suits everyone.
I probably also tried too hard to be mindful, setting myself up for disappointment. I feel suffocated by the rules of meal times. They are all different and I’m just never quite sure when to wait, eat or get up. Earlier we were unsure because there had been no bell and it was already ten minutes after beginning of meal time and lazy evening. So when I observed a nun take food I thought it meant we could help ourselves. But when picking a plate I was reminded that the bell hadn’t yet invited dinner and the nun had some other reason for taking food. Felt like such a fool! And my internal magma was bubbling…