Summer Day of Mindfulness – July 23, 2016

Our sister sangha, the Mindfulness Community of Milwaukee, hosted the annual Summer Day of Mindfulness for people following the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh from Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison, on Saturday July 23.  We met at the DeKoven Center, a beautiful site overlooking Lake Michigan in Racine.  Jack and Laurie Lawlor led the sessions of sitting and walking meditation and provided the dharma talks, and the day included the traditional small group discussions, chanting of the Heart Sutra and transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

A major theme of the day was the interconnection of shamatha (stopping) and vipashyana (looking deeply).  Jack distributed copies of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “14 Verses on Meditation” (found on page 43 of the Plum Village Chanting Book).  Here are the first three verses:

  1. Like the two wings of a bird,
    The practices of stopping (shamatha) and looking deeply (vipashyana)
    Rely on each other
    And belong together, side by side.
  2. The practice of shamatha is to stop,
    So that I may recognize and touch,
    Nourish and heal,
    Settle down and concentrate.
  3. The practice of vipashyana is to look deeply
    Into the nature of the five skandas,
    So that I may develop understanding
    And transform suffering.

A Day of Mindfulness provides a nice re-charge of the spirit that is difficult to gain in our daily lives.  The energy of the group is a powerful boost to the practice, and it’s a rare treat to join in in lifting our voices in favorite Thay songs.  “Happiness is here and now” continues to reverberate.

-by Walt Keough

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