It's been a month since my last posting, and can I say I've been busy? Well, Yes and No. I was away at the beginning of May for nine days on retreat, which was well overdue. It had been ten months since my last time at Padmaloka Retreat Centre, in Surlingham,Norfolk. The theme was The 7 Point Mind Training- a challenging text, augmented by an excellent exposition by Padmavajra, in a series of talks. The challenge for me, was to raise my level of practice from forty minutes a day, up to three hours plus. And not just that, but the majority of this was intense visualisation practices- sahdana - six element practice - tonglen. As my own sahdana practice dissolved during the general collapse of my meditation practice five, or so years ago. This was going to be a challenge in itself. Rather than resurrecting my Shakyamuni Sahdana, I chose to do a basic visualisation of Kshitigarbha, which seemed to work. The presence of old friends from Ipswich/Colchester ( Dayasara / Bodhivamsa / Sukavi & Srikirti ) on the retreat was a real unexpected delight. I returned feeling my practice and sraddha reinvigorated.
Back at work the following day, I found myself thrust back into the frenetic maelstrom that is Windhorse Customer Services. By Thursday I felt drained and exhausted, once more. The sleep pattern problems had eased whilst on retreat,but now returned to its usual erratic form. My persistent shoulder pain got worse, and then worse still. So, by Tuesday of this week, after two nights of little sleep, tossing and turning trying, and not finding, a comfortable position, I went to see a Doctor. She has given me some pills which do help me sleep, and ease the pain a little. though they left me feeling nauseous and disorientated for a couple of days. Since then I've gone on the offensive. I'm not waiting any longer for it to clear up naturally, or because of the acupuncture. I've got to really get to grips with the physical situation I'm in. So I've been for some Deep Tissue Massage, which has begun the slow process of releasing the knots and tensions in my shoulders. I'm off to see my Osteopath next week too. I've just got to recover from this shoulder problem, so a change in my weekly regime is inevitable. It's going to be expensive, but I don't feel I have much choice in the matter. As you might well imagine, I have been feeling a heightened sense of disengagement and discontentment since my return from retreat. A large part of my daily life experience is just not enjoyable, and I'm loosing patience with when its going to improve. I never have sufficient time and space for the things that sustain me - creativity and practice. The division between my internal needs and external demands, seems irresolvable at present. There doesn't appear to be a happier working balance between the two, but I cannot hold this sense of conflict, for much longer.
The other reason why I've been neglecting this Blog, has been because I've been doing quite a bit of development work on my Dogen website - Dogen's Plum Blossoms. Plus assembling and scanning photos for the website for my artwork. David, has put in a lot of his own time into getting the latter setting it up for me, which I'm extremely appreciative of. I don't think it would have happened otherwise, there doesn't appear to be a handy DIY guide to doing it. If there is, it will be written in the computer Swahili, of geek speak, that will be equally baffling for old tech people, such as myself. I've also committed myself to writing regular 1000 word articles for the Dogen site. This is proving a good discipline for me, as it prevents me getting bogged down in the longer extensive essays. It is so much easier to maintain continuity of thought and effort. You'll find the links to both site in the Links section of this blog.
David and I are beginning the painful, but necessary effort, to find a new place to live. This is not exactly inspiring, as what is available within our rental price range, is extremely limited in scope and space. If we had the money for a deposit, it would probably be better to buy. But we don't have much more than a button between us, so that's a none starter. Living in one of the most expensive towns in southern England, does not help. Roll on the imminent collapse of the housing market!