According to the Shambhala website:
Dathün (Tibetan for "month session") is a one-month group meditation retreat lead by a senior teacher. It is open to anyone and is a very powerful introduction and deepening of mindfulness-awareness meditation... Silence and functional talking are observed throughout the day. Meals are served in the shrine room oryoki-style, a practice of mindful eating taken from the Zen tradition. There is regular individual instruction with trained meditation instructors.
This is something I've been planning for and looking forward to for years. I'm not sure I know what to expect. I'm kind of in it to go along for the ride, which I've found is a good way to approach things like this.
I'm fascinated by these pictures of people at the beginning of a dathun and at the end. Every single one of these people look more alive in the photo on the right. Maybe it is just the camera lighting, but there is more life in the eyes.
If I must aspire to something, I'd like this experience to help me soften my heart. With all of the difficult things we experience every day, on the street, in relationships, at work, we have a tendency to harden. I have often observed that at times when it seems I should feel something, I'm surprised by how disconnected I feel to the people and world around me.
This morning I was pondering the concept of emptiness or shunyata, and I was thinking about how Pema Chodron refers to this with a feeling of "groundlessness." We often find ourselves in situations where we don't know what to do. It is kind of like vertigo in that the world kind of falls apart around you when your boss yells at you find out someone you love is going to die.
Instead of feeling the moment of groundlessness, we seek security. Sometimes this security takes the form of passion, aggression or ignorance. So when someone tells us something we don't want to hear, we react by thinking this person is stupid.
During this dathun, I'd like to soften my heart in such a way, that I can have a more direct experience of groundlessness, of shunyata. In order to do this, I also need courage, but allowing my heart to soften is a part of gaining that courage.
Secondly, I'd imagine that discipline will be strengthened by this experience of meditating for a month. My meditation instructor told me that a dathun will deepen my practice. I'm guessing that what he means by this is that over the course of 4 weeks, I might see how my mind works in greater clarity than I ever have before.
I'm imagining that gaining this clarity and insight will be pretty awesome. If I reach that state, I'll aspire to carry that sense of awe back with me into the world of noise and traffic and speed. I'm guessing that it will lead to me wanting to practice longer, more often and more precisely than I have before. That would be nice!
There probably won't be any blog posts on Capital Dharma until early to mid May, but come back then to hear how the dathun went and how it feels to sit still for month!