Daylong Meditation Retreat: Cultivating Clarity Through Living the Questions

Saturday, January 28, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Birdsong Retreat Center, Ashland City, TN
Led by Lisa Ernst

birdsong

Birdsong Retreat Center

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Please join us at a beautiful, rural retreat location for a day of practice. During the winter months it is customary to look inward to clarify our deepest intentions, yet unanswered questions may stand in the way of knowing what our true priorities are. During this day of practice, we will have the opportunity to practice opening our hearts to our unresolved questions and inner dilemmas. These questions contain a rich source of insight; learning to live them brings about a radical shift that opens the door to clarity and equanimity.
This retreat is appropriate for all levels of experience.

Led by Lisa Ernst, the retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, practice instructions, and a dharma talk. Cost is $50 plus dana (donation) to the teacher. A scholarship option is offered. Paypal is available here. Instructions for paying by check are here.  Be sure to include your email address. Retreat information and directions will be provided in advance of the retreat. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com

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Living the Questions Dharma Talk and Guided Meditation by Lisa Ernst

This dharma talk was recorded at Insight Nashville on October 1, 2014. It includes a guided meditation on working with deep questions in your life.

 

Instructions on Working with Questions in Your Practice and A Guided Meditation

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Unanswered questions, intractable situations often appear to stand in the way of living from our deepest intentions. At times we might feel blocked even from knowing what our true priorities are. But if we take time to turn inward with a spirit of patience and inquiry, instead of requiring the dilemmas to go away, or insisting on immediate resolutions, we can discover the resources we need. Internal dilemmas contain a rich source of insight; learning to live with them brings about a radical shift that opens the door to clarity and equanimity.

Working with unresolved questions in your meditation practice is an intentional focus, like metta, which is different from basic breath and body awareness. We are directing our attention to something more specific, in this case, deep questions in our lives. We are creating an intention to bring the question into our hearts with a quality of openness and interest, but not with an intent to analyze or resolve.

Your question may be about some aspect of your life that doesn’t make sense: loneliness, career or finances, a difficult relationship, perhaps old conditioning that keeps reappearing unexpectedly no matter what you do. It may be about health or chronic pain, the loss of a loved one or maybe deep spiritual question about life and death. Most of us are intimately familiar with our themes, the questions that we just can’t resolve.

In exploring your questions this way, they can transform into a life force. Living your deepest questions is living your life fully; loving your questions is loving even those parts of your life and those parts of yourself that you may have shut out.

This is where the radical shift can occur. Often unresolved questions represent parts of our lives that we resist. Trying to figure them out and resolve them takes us away from this moment, where the question can come alive. This is the portal to wisdom and insight. It only opens when we can move out of the realm of the intellect and our normal attempts to solve the question. Living our questions brings us fully into this moment.

Guided Meditation

Give yourself about 20 – 30 minutes to do this practice fully.

Find a comfortable place to sit. Take a few deep breaths and settle into this moment. Now take a few minutes to find your question and bring it into your heart

As you find it, just open up to it as a living thing

Keep sitting with whatever arises and let go of any thinking or stories until you become aware of your body

Notice what you feel

As the question settles into your body you may feel sadness or grief, despair, anger, fear, love or compassion. Don’t attach to the name or the explanation. Just feel it. You may even feel neutral. If it’s neutral or blank, just be with the experience of that. Chances are it will change of its own accord as you stay present. It may also appear as energy. This can happen when we move the question out of the realm of thought and into our hearts.

If you feel overwhelmed and quickly engage in busy or intensive thought, the question may be too charged. Pull back and focus on the breath or another object of attention until you feel more settled. Then return to your question as you feel ready.

There is a lot of life and energy in our deep questions once we open our hearts and minds to them.

Once your question settles into your being, just let it rest there and don’t try to direct or see the outcome. This is where your mindfulness practice will serve you, in this spaciousness of mind and heart that we can’t always so easily access in our day to day activities.

If you feel something arising allow it to flow and move. Sadness grief, energy, even joy, whatever it might be, just be open to it welcome it and let it be in your heart. If you need to cry that is ok too.

What we’re learning to do is hold the question in the realm of not knowing, the realm of mystery. With patience, we let go of trying to resolve anything. Slowly, we learn to respond from an unbiased heart, our inherent wisdom.

You can listen to my dharma talk on working with questions here.

For my Buddhist Geeks podcast on working with questions, click here.

Daylong Retreat at Insight LA with Trudy Goodman

I’ll be taking my Living the Questions retreat to Insight LA on Sunday, October 13.

Cultivating Clarity though Living The Questions

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot begiven you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Unanswered questions, intractable situations often appear to stand in the way of living from our deepest intentions.  At times we might feel blocked even from knowing what our true priorities are.  But if we take time to turn inward with a spirit of patience and inquiry, instead of requiring the dilemmas to go away, or insisting on immediate resolutions, we can discover the resources that we need.  During this day of sitting and walking meditation, we will have the opportunity to practice opening our hearts to our unresolved inner dilemmas. We will learn to explore our questions more gently and skillfully.  Internal dilemmas contain a rich source of insight; learning to live with them brings about a radical shift that opens the door to clarity and equanimity.

For registration and full retreat information, go here.