April 17, 2021

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It was a wonderful experience to attend online One-Day Chan Meditation Retreat with Venerable Chang Xing the other day. I don’t attend English Chan Meditation Retreat often; this was my second time and it turned out quite encouraging even it was done virtually through Zoom.

To maximize the Zoom technology, after the opening introduction by Venerable Chang Xing, we were offered two breakout rooms to join: one for beginners who wanted guidance/instructions about Chan Sitting Meditation, and one for experienced people who were ready to sit down and meditate themselves. I did obtain some Chan Meditation instructions before, yet never in English. With curiosity, I decided to join the beginner’s breakout room to see how it worked. As the Buddha sayings: with no-gain mindset, you gain more. It actually turned out quite of benefit. There were only three students in this breakout room, Warren gave us step-by-step fundamental instructions and highlighted some key points. With the Q&A, some of my puzzles about the meditation were resolved. Basic steps are important, they are the foundation of success. It is always worth listening repetitively to reinforce our knowledge and practice. It deepens your thoughts through different angle of views; and you may gain some new tips, too.

After left the breakout room, we all back to the main screen to do some yoga exercises and to get ready for the morning sitting Chan meditation. The event was a whole-day meditation retreat, Venerable Chang Xing very skillfully divided the program into a few little sections, intertwined sitting meditation, walking meditation and a few yoga exercises time period to make the day went less stress, comfortable and keep awakened.

The Yoga exercise was amazing, by doing those yoga exercise movements, I had already felt the retreat was paid off. By the end of the day, my body was so loosened up, flexible and full of energy and spirit, I became a totally different person compared with the stressed, tied up body I had in the morning, felt so good.

Meditation is a way of life, and mindfulness is a way of dealing with every moment of the day, not just in the sitting cushion. Venerable Chang Xing wanted all students to be mindful when we had our lunch, pay attention to our jaw, to how the food was processed from a whole piece and became small pieces, and how did the saliva arise. I follow the instruction religiously and realized that the favorable taste, the sensory pleasure only arose at the first few moments when we bite the food, it then became mechanical process of chewing the food into digestible pieces. The process was so mechanical, no enjoyment, and it took time; eventually all the food became a muddle of mass. The spike of the flavor, the excitement of the taste all long gone, it was just illusion. I felt quite interested in observing how the saliva arose. It seems arising naturally with or without your attention. I even made effort to try to make it not arise, yet, failed. I think I should make it as a “Huatou” – when does the saliva arise. It always arose quietly, effortlessly, and beyond your notice. I then realized that whole point of the observation was to make you of mindfulness at present moment, kept your awareness at every single moment. My mind gradually became more gentle, calm, peaceful and tranquil, and I then was able to wash my dishes with less water.

Thank you to the effort made from Venerable Chang Xing, Warren and Lawrence. It is said that to get a duck floating gracefully over the water, it takes lots of tense strokes under the water. The retreat was a great, ensuring experience, truly appreciated.

Michelle Wu


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