Updated to add: All passes have been awarded but the retreat is still open for registration at this link.
Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Plunge’
September 21st, 2011 - 6 Comments
June 20th, 2011 - 4 Comments
Sometimes people ask me when I’m going to come to their town. That’s a reasonable question. The answer is, it beats me. I never go anywhere unless someone else takes the first step. And then the step after, and then another step. Everything I say and do is for the sole purpose of encouraging people to take the next step.
The only place we can meet is in the middle.
That’s where I hope you’ll meet me this fall, as I have this incredible patchwork of visits set up, none of which was my idea to begin with. Neither do I have any idea earthly how they will turn out. But they usually turn out quite lovely, in their own artful way. You can see all of these programs detailed on my Retreats page, but I’m hanging them out here in the middle of the open road for you to bump into, in case you thought you were on your way somewhere else. See if you can stitch together a way to make it. I would be so happy to see you.
The Art of Mindfulness retreat in Houston, Sat., Sept. 10. Just announced and open for registration. Do you hear me Texas? I’m coming home.*
The Practice of Everyday Life weekend retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center outside Fort Collins, CO, Fri., Sept. 16-Sun. Sept. 18. This is as midwesterly as I can maneuver this year. If it makes a difference, apply for a scholarship on the SMC site!
The Plunge one-day retreat Sat., Oct. 1 in Pittsburgh. The absolutely farthest northeast I can make it for the foreseeable future, and Pittsburgh figures so keenly in my past that I’m delighted to see it again.
*Pssst: plug in the discount code MAEZEN at check out for a special give-back on the Houston event.
Red & Indigo Quilt by Jean Hall Painting.
December 5th, 2010 - 3 Comments
Everything comes out in the wash.
The Plunge at Asilomar
Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove near Monterey, California
Registration $100 per person
Sign up on the Retreats page.
P.S. Gone on retreat. Be back when I’m soaking wet.
October 6th, 2010 - 3 Comments
People often quote this to me as their understanding of mindfulness. I only hope it is not their understanding of dishwashing or baby bathing.
First off, let me be clear. In an absolute sense, dishes are indeed the baby Buddha. The Buddha is indeed the dishes. As is the water, the dishwashing liquid, the scrubber and the baked-on lasagna. Everything is nothing but Mind, which is nothing but Buddha. So this instruction is absolutely true. It’s in the application that the baked-on lasagna gets sticky.
In a relative sense, our understanding of mindfulness poses difficulty. (Any understanding poses difficulty and the relative sense is where all our difficulty lies.) We might infer that we are to bring a certain something extra to the sink, like an attitude of holiness or reverence. Maybe we should slow down and contemplate the sacredness of the task, its deeper meaning and value. We might even extract a self-satisfied fulfillment from how we see ourselves. I’ve finally got it! I’m really washing dishes like bathing a baby Buddha!
Even though the dish is the baby Buddha, it is still a dish. And a baby? A baby is not a dish. To wash the dishes is to wash them as they are: dishes. To bathe a baby is to bathe the baby as it is: squirming, splashing, crying, laughing, slippery. To be mindful is to bring nothing more to your life than what is there already. Seeing things as they are, you already know exactly what to do and how to do it. Wash the dish. Bathe the baby. As they are.
We just forget, and look for something more to add to it than our own straightforward attention. Attention is more than enough. It is pure love for everything in life as it is.
Attention! Someone dropped the baby in Portland! Whether you’re a mother or father, spiritual or not, into Zen or far out of it, come to this event and help me stack the dishes. Please share with anyone who has an interest in peaceful parenting, and especially those who have no interest at all.
Saturday, Oct. 16, 9-3:30 p.m.
Portals of Love: The Spiritual Practice of Parenting
Hosted by Zen Community of Oregon at St. David of Wales Church
If you ever prayed for an easier way to parent, this one day workshop is for you. We’ll examine how to find a spiritual practice amid the demands of home life. If you’re not a parent, you’ll still benefit fully because there is no prerequisite for finding personal peace. The day includes morning coffee and vegetarian lunch, beginning meditation and other mindfulness practices, ample time for personal questions and book signing.
More information and registration here.
September 21st, 2010 - 11 Comments
There exists only the present instant, a Now which always and without end is
itself new. There is no yesterday or any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a
thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence. – Meister Eckhart
My teacher Nyogen Roshi sent that quote to me in an email recently, suggesting that “you might find it useful in one of your upcoming programs.” Emailing is something we do sparingly, our relationship resting solely on the alchemy of face-to-face proximity. The rarity of his emails ensures that they are highly visible; the fact is, every email I receive is itself rare and highly visible to me, or my practice has lapsed, as Meister Eckhart observes.
On Saturday at the Mother’s Plunge in Boston, I started the way I always start – by introducing myself. “My name is Karen Maezen Miller,” I said, and go on to tell them that “Karen is the name my mother gave me, Maezen is the name my Buddhist teacher gave me, and Miller is the name Mr. Miller gave me.” I use all three names, and in that way I carry forward three streams of wisdom inextricable to every moment of my life and work. My name is not just my name. It is my teaching. When I state my name I am also stating my practice: the realization that no part of my life is more or less important. No part battles with another because there are no parts. It is all one life and all one practice.
Among the many practical aspects of Zen training is the protocol of its form: the way certain customs are prescribed and therefore serve to eradicate self-consciousness and confusion. Zen training tells us where to put our arms and legs, for instance, which is a question of considerable consternation for most of us most of the time. Practical too is the protocol of my formal practice in the dokusan room, the private interview room within which I meet and work with my teacher face-to-face. Although I have practiced with Nyogen Roshi for 10 years, every time I meet with him in dokusan, which is at least once a week (and once a day during retreats) I begin by introducing myself. read more
August 23rd, 2010 - 7 Comments
When I was at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral this spring, I asked the audience what they thought turned the inside of the church into a sanctuary. Was it the concrete walls?
When I was leading walking meditation in the chapel at Seattle’s Bastyr University in June, I asked the people with me what turned the ground under their feet into a pathway. Was it the terrazzo tile?
When I was at a yoga studio in suburban Milwaukee last Saturday, I asked the group in front of me to notice the change that occurred in the room from the time we convened at 2 p.m. until the hour we dispersed at 4 p.m. What turned the mildly restless, self-conscious discomfort at the start of our time together into the vast, settled calm at the end? Into a still and quiet ease so deep that no one cared to move? So satisfying that no one rose to leave?
The answer is you. The secret is yours. The power of your own nonjudgmental attention is what transforms space into spaciousness. It turns your wandering into the way. It transforms your life into love.
And now we’ll do the same in Boston when we gather for the Mother’s Plunge on Saturday, Sept. 18. I’m so pleased that we’ll be meeting at the Seaport Academy, a therapeutic day school for adolescents who need extra attention to navigate the perils of growing up. The students will not be there the day we are, but your attention will, and your attention will transform our humble gathering into the spaciousness of infinite potential. Come see for yourself what the power of your love can do. We’ll leave some of it behind, and you can take the rest home with you.
And if you’re not on the East Coast on Sept. 18, come to the one-day meditation retreat I’m leading in LA on Sept. 12. We’ll turn our attention onto a bare white wall and unleash the wild blue yonder. You don’t have to believe it; you just have to see it.
August 3rd, 2010 - 4 Comments
Brookfield, Wisconsin, Sat., Aug. 21, 2-4 p.m. Extraordinary Ordinary workshop at YogAsylum. Register during these last 10 days of early bird savings.
Boston, Mass., Sat., Sept. 18, 9-3:30 p.m. Mother’s Plunge retreat at Seaport Academy. Last 10 days of early bird savings.
Los Angeles, Sun., Sept. 12 9-5, Beginner’s Meditation Retreat at Hazy Moon Zen Center. The best way to practice with me for real. Register here.
I’m home from a week’s retreat and unpacking my suitcase. My practice amounts to unpacking all the time, metaphorically and otherwise. Laundry piled and put away, refrigerator emptied and filled, mail opened and tossed before I’m off for warm pastures and waterfronts.
A letter waited on my kitchen table, and with it, this story unfolded. It’s the story packed in every mother’s suitcase. I hope you find yourself at home in it. read more
July 18th, 2010 - 6 Comments
One of my favorite finds this year is Katrina Kenison’s memoir The Gift of an Ordinary Day. And if you still haven’t read this elegiac rendering of a family in transition, I know you’ve cried a tear over this video. I’m spilling over with the news that Katrina will be my special guest at the Mother’s Plunge in Boston on Sat., Sept. 18. Now you really have to come and bring a friend to share a cup with us. Katrina will read and talk and sign books, while I carry on in my blah blah customary manner.
One of my favorite finds this year is Katrina Kenison herself. Our new friendship is a pretty amazing story that Katrina began telling on her own blog. I’ll fill you in on the rest when I see you in Boston. It will be an extraordinary day. Or, if you believe in magic as much as I do, you will find it to be another perfectly ordinary day.
July 11th, 2010 - 8 Comments
When you ask yourself “Why not?” you may find yourself in motion, across a vivid and unpredictable landscape, over impossible mountains and beyond the deep blue water’s edge, where you surprise yourself, once and for all, by getting wet. – Momma Zen
I’m flying over the ocean, across a vivid and unpredictable landscape, over immense peaks, impossible heights and unfathomable distance. I’m coming home from an island retreat, and although I didn’t quite take to the surf like some in my family did, I went far enough to get wet.
Our lives are always calling us to step out from an island retreat and into the water. Beyond our false and insular views of “me, my, I” and into the ocean of true reality, true connection. Farther than the familiar edge that halts us, and through the question that dissolves all fear: why not?
Initiative is what takes you everywhere. There is never an absence of information in our lives. There is as much inspiration as sand. But we are all plagued by a shortage of initiative, like surfers stuck on shore, waiting for waves that will never come far enough to transport them forward. read more
June 13th, 2010 - 7 Comments
I’ve just returned from a marvelous time at the Mother’s Plunge -Seattle where the sun emerged from weeks of rain and radiated into our bones. There were 34 of us cloistered amid a wide circle of pines and clear air. I won’t even describe it: nothing I say comes close.
Although it’s nifty the way our fancy social media works, we haven’t met until we meet face-to-face. There is one more Mother’s Plunge on my calendar for this year: Saturday, June 26 here in my hometown. I hope that in the light of the approaching days you will find a way to come.
In my Zen lineage, a wisdom tradition transmitted from one teacher to one student one at a time through 81 generations since Buddha, a single meeting matters more than the volumes you read on a page. A true meeting only occurs face-to-face. In the shared field where we meet, eyes lock, minds unite, light streams and hands close the distance with which we divide ourselves.
One meeting, one day, seems like a drop in the bucket, but the ripples go on forever. It’s in the ripples that the shoreline shifts. The landscape of our lives changes forever.
Just take a look at this iridescent scarf handed to me when I met Anna Katherine Curfman at the Plunge in Seattle. She felts these flutters from the lightest fibers of merino wool and silk. I can’t imagine the time and attention she places into each one. Now I don’t have to imagine it. I see it, I believe it, I love it, and I especially love that it requires the intimate care of an oh so gentle Hand Wash Cold.
A Weekend with Karen – if I were to crash your pad, commandeer your car and keep you up too late three nights in a row, there would be repercussions.
Attention! – “Baby steps will get you anywhere if you don’t stop stepping.” A valedictory address from a graduate of the Mother’s Plunge.
June 11th, 2010 - 9 Comments
I wake this morning in Seattle – Tacoma, to be exact – where I am soaking up the hospitality that greets me every place I arrive for a reading, a talk or a Mother’s Plunge retreat. Tomorrow’s Mother’s Plunge with 34 women is the multiplied outcome of a single kindness. By kindness I don’t just mean the command to come, but one person’s compassionate effort and initiative to make this event happen.
This is how we save the world. This is how we save ourselves. With living kindness, the kindness that walks on your own two legs, finds a room for people to gather, hosts a tired traveler in an upstairs bedroom, brews coffee and bakes cookies and makes the world a better place.
June 8th, 2010 - 2 Comments
Summer is just plain crazy. That’s why I never pass up a chance to get wet.
Before you lose yourself in the crosscurrents of a crazy summer, take one day all for yourself. Personal encouragement, fresh insight, spiritual refreshment, easy laughter, beginning meditation, gentle yoga, mountain walks and a private tour of my own historic backyard Japanese garden. A perfect day to share with a friend, a sister, a mother or a partner. You need not be a mother or a woman to attend, because anyone can learn the breathing stroke (and never fear the water again).
If you’ve attended a Plunge before you might wonder if you should come again. But when the temperature rises, a cool dip refreshes like new. You can go in even deeper next time.
June 1st, 2010 - 4 Comments
I’m not in Kansas anymore, but as Dorothy herself knows, we never leave our home in Kansas. Just a few minutes before I went to sit among the good people at Rime Buddhist Center, I clicked my heels and realized what I should tell them.
I had first thought that I should talk to them about all of this, but I didn’t want to repeat what they had already had the chance to read over and over. Looking into the forested cool of my mother-in-law’s rambling backyard, an ocean of green that blankets the Midwest prairies in late spring, I remembered a simple set of instructions that I always give children when they visit my backyard garden. (Since she was three years old, we have invited Georgia’s class to our garden for a field trip each year. She is now ten, and I am far older, and yet the instructions still apply to us all.)
Life is a garden and we are the gardeners. Here are the rules for a mindful garden: read more