Among the emails I read yesterday - not as many as I had feared, thanks to Daigan's efforts while I was away - was a request for an article about my practice experience and how I'd like to see Zen Center continue to share the dharma in the future. Transitional times such as this, picking up my responsibilities again after a break, are always good moments to pay attention to our attitudes and reactions, so it seemed that this was a perfect time for such reflection, and as you all know, I don't need much of an excuse to pontificate for several hundred words.
Since I had many opportunities to relax while I was away, and I was also bathed in the comfort of feeling at home, surrounded by family, friends of long standing, and familiar locales - to say nothing of my deep resonance with the old buildings, the landscapes, and the flora and fauna that were all so resplendent at this peak of spring - I can honestly say that there wasn't much I was actively looking forward to about being back at Zen Center. So it was interesting to notice how I responded yesterday to being in the schedule again, and being surrounded by the people who live here and those who come to share the practice.
It is true to say that no matter how much I enjoyed myself in Europe - as indeed I had enjoyed the life I had in London before I moved here - eventually I start to feel that there is a deeper element missing.
Often these days we read about new discoveries in neuro-science
revealing the benefits of meditation, and while I was in England, I came
across articles about oxytocin and its role in trust and openness in groups. I hear people talking, or as just this week, read emails from members of Young Urban Zen, expressing their gratitude for how this practice benefits them in their life and helps them in hard times, and it seems that it doesn't especially matter how we evaluate and enumerate the positive effects, or what chemical processes are making them happen, the point is that we can notice our own experience with this, and appreciate how it informs our life, and the life of those around us.