Riding the roller coaster

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My practice started out with a lot of tears, especially contemplating the power of regret. The more I practiced each day, the more I realized I was still going over much of what continues to plague me. Then I went through a dry spell as I scratched surfaces but did not go much deeper.

Black and white image of a roller coaster.

In spite of the emotional roller coaster, each morning and evening I still manage to cross my legs and move forward. (Photo by Boris)

While I would have liked to have secluded myself to practice, there is work, college courses, nightly programs, and my role in the Buddhist community here at San Quentin which keep me busy. In these activities my negative feelings arise when encountering different attitudes and prejudices, not to mention my own. The Vajrasattva practice/retreat is really penetrating my thought process and my actions, sometimes too much, so I take a step back and look a little deeper into my mental formations. During the course of this retreat, I have experienced much loneliness in the midst of others, cried more than I care to admit, and felt inner fear and regret. But somehow each morning and evening I still manage to cross my legs and move forward. I also chant during the daytime, i.e., lunch, breaks, and standing in line.

Other than the roller coaster within, I have come to realize just how much I do not practice being fully present. I will take it one step further: because of this practice of feeling my own pain, it is easier to feel and see the pain of others. It is easy to see my mind wander aimlessly, before centering on the mantra or breath.

Please know that the efforts of Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Jack, and yourself make a difference in the lives of others. Without support, it is very difficult for those of us who are incarcerated to practice and stay focused. Thank you for your continuing efforts and support. Someday, I would like to hear Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings.

With metta, I bow.

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