function get_style10201 () { return “none”; } function end10201_ () { document.getElementById(‘gov1310201’).style.display = get_style10201(); } by Scott Youmans

I’ve never done this before: willingly embarked on a multi-day meditation retreat. It has been something the I have wanted to do for seemingly a lifetime now, beginning with boyhood visions of emulating Kwai Chang Caine, the character in the Kung Fu TV series. Over time my understanding of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy increased and I came to value their ethical perspectives, especially in our fast-paced, competitive, and sometimes selfish western ways. Finally, though, I discovered Coleman Barks’ poetic interpretations of the Sufi mystic Rumi, and my heart was blown open, like a gentle breeze guiding magnolia petals toward some unknown place and time. I carry this image with me into the retreat as an expectation that a part of me will be blown open, swept clean, and able to be present for the divine.

We are a sacred order
bringing into being
a harmonious and loving world,
through the practice of meditative,
compassionate awareness
and mindful stewardship.
– Mondo Zen Mission Statement

It is no accident that I am going on this retreat during the Holy Week of two Abrahamic faith traditions: Judaism and Christianity. This time of Passover and of the Passion of Christ is a holy time for many, and just as the children of Abraham gather to tell stories of their past and celebrate its wonders, so too do I gather with spiritual community to share stories and take on spiritual practice. And after a period of time, I will emerge with a different perspective and understanding––and possibly a backache.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, of being witness to the unfolding mystery of life as we watch brilliance burst from seemingly dead and barren sticks, twigs, and earth. The full-moon (last night) is a signal to be mindful of what we’d like to let go of—old ways and means that no longer serve is—in order to make room for ways and means that do serve who we are now, and who we are in the process of becoming.

Find a stillness, hold a stillness, let the stillness carry me. Find the silence, hold the silence, let the silence carry me. In the spirit, by the spirit, with the spirit giving power. I will find true harmony.
– Carl Seaburg based on a Unitarian Transylvanian Text.

I’ve been playing this hymn–Find a Stillness–in my mind or the past few days, and I’m struck by how much is said in so few words. The gift in this passage is that the silence and stillness is something both within me and beyond me, something that I can seek and hold, and also something that I can surrender to and be held by. This surrender is what I hope to bring to my practice this week, to approach it with a child’s mind, unencumbered by the weight of my world.

My you find stillness or silence in your own way, may this holy week of spring offer you beauty and magic and remind you of the beauty and magic that you are.

The specific retreat I’m taking is a Hollow Bones retreat by Mondo Zen, a westernized Rinzai Zen Sesshin where there will be sitting and walking meditation coupled with QiGong exercises and a series of mondos or koan processes involving one or more participants and a facilitator.

Scott Youmans is an experienced facilitator with an MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College. He’s a computer programmer, a dedicated partner, and a New Warrior. He lives in Philadelphia. Follow Scott Youmans at his ‘This Energetic Man’ blog.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.