The weather blew through Wilbur over the weekend, rain on Saturday, followed by high winds and then clear cold skies for most of Sunday, more rain and greyer skies. This meant that the hardest thing I had to do was negotiate the slick mud on the dirt road out in the old van that was generously loaned to me; it was, as usual, delightful to get away to the quietness of the valley, and to offer meditation to a variety of people, some of them complete beginners. By some combination of chances, I met people there I knew from San Francisco, from Young Urban Zen, from Tassajara, and from a previous visit to Wilbur.
As I settled in, I thought of what I could say for the first meditation session, and came up with an alliterative list of words to reflect on:
Stepping aside – coming out of the city to such a remote space gives us an opportunity to step out of the usual pace of our life, just as taking time for zazen allows us to step aside from our everyday busyness. But this does not mean that we are separating ourselves from anything.
Slowing down – when life is lived at walking pace, and there is nowhere particularly to be, and almost no schedule to follow apart from eating and sleeping, we can feel the relief in our body and mind, and maybe a sense of deep ease.
Stillness – when we slow down, we can more easily touch moments of stillness, and what does that feel like?
Silence – there are rare opportunities to be immersed in silence, so we should take them, and allow it to grow and let the silence expand you.
Soaking – this was the first time I have been to Wilbur outside of the intense summer heat, but, just as I fondly remember from winters at Tassajara, soaking in warm water is a great way to being ease and relief.
Seeing – when we can do all the above things, there are ways we can get to see everything in a fresh and unsullied way; there is time to see, and space to see, and less mental crowding of what is around us. Our sense of self can expand with that.
I didn’t take many pictures this time. This was from the Bear Valley Road on the way out.