No Mud, No Lotus: Reflections from our 2017 Family Retreat
By Jennifer Jordan | Sep 7 2017
Our 3rd annual Family Retreat is a wrap! Teachers Fred, Ofosu, and I are deeply grateful to the families and volunteer staff that made this special event possible. Over eighty of us gathered in July in the beautiful Shenandoah foothills with the mutual intention of building friendships and community, cultivating kindness and awareness, and taking much-needed time to unplug and re-connect.
Our chosen theme was "No Mud, No Lotus", a phrase borrowed from Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. The heart of all beings can be compared to an unopened lotus flower. Just as the beautiful lotus flower emerges from mud yet remains unstained, likewise our own inherent wisdom, understanding, and compassion is cultivated from the inevitable suffering and challenges we encounter in our lives. This is why in Buddhist imagery you will find the Buddha sitting on a blooming lotus.
All humans are born in a world where there is suffering (the First Noble Truth). This suffering -- this mud -- is a vital part of the human experience, helps us understand who we are, and teaches us how to choose and navigate the most skillful path toward happiness and freedom from suffering (the Fourth Noble Truth). Often we discover that the most skillful path is not the easiest one!
During the retreat, the theme was brought to life through family and group activities, music, skits, discussion, videos, games, movement, art, and meditation. Our intention, as always, is to offer practical tools that can be useful in family life to help us cultivate awareness, resilience, self-regulation, and compassion in everyday life.
Mark your calendars for our 2018 retreat! The 2018 IMCW Family Retreat will be held June 27-July 1 at Sevenoaks Retreat Center in Madison, VA. Registration opens early 2018.