Sitting with Shaila

Camp Galilee view by Tom Grey Nov 2014

Some impressions  of Dharma Zephyr’s Halloween residential retreat with Shaila Catherine at Camp Galilee


Tom:  It is a wonderful experience to be able to live for 9 days on the shore of that ever-changing and always stunning Lake Tahoe! And as I said to the group on the last day, the joy and satisfaction I received from my gift of service for managing the retreat was very fulfilling. This was the first residential retreat I’ve been on where I never once doubted the value of being there, which feels like my practice has passed a subtle but significant milestone in terms of commitment. Partly, I think this was because I was being careful to hold things lightly and not expect too much or try to hard. I also was able to sit on a cushion much more than previous with only mild to moderate discomfort, and I felt like I deepened my understanding of not-self and the mental process of lust. I am excited to continue being in contact with several people from the retreat through Shaila’s online sutta study group, which I just joined! Here are a few words that came to me after I discovered an old bone while doing walking meditation and contemplating the body and not-self:

Camp Galilee beach by Mark BreedonStunning, invincible power of nature,

Cradle me gently like a dry bone

Nestled amongst rocks on the beach.

Mark: I have chronic pain that is exacerbated when I am in the sitting position.  I’ve done body scanning many times but Shaila’s body awareness meditations provided the skills  to dis-identify from the pain; as a result I was able to sustain a stillness in both body and mind for much longer periods  I am very grateful to have had this experience, Shaila gave me a wonderful gift!


Anne: Suppose you have a messy house. You accumulate lots of stuff and you leave it lying around. You never get rid of anything. Then suppose you clean the house really well. You notice things you never noticed before – or that you stopped noticing because of the clutter: the way the afternoon light falls into a  room; the blue vase your daughter gave you.

Concentration is like cleaning the house. Until the mind gathers its clutter again, it is fresh, clear, and beautiful. You can see things you’d never noticed before – or that you’d forgotten. It’s easy to move around in a clear mind. With concentration,   all your mental “stuff” is out of the way – for a little while.


Just PartsGalilee-skeletontomcropblog

by Deborah Stevenson

Seeing myself
as parts, simply this:
Head hairs, body hairs,
nails, teeth, skin.
Not beautiful.

Just these bones


Something shifted.
I could be any age
sitting under a tree
timeless awareness.

I felt strangely
while falling apart,
breaking free,

Not so scary
after all.

Galileegroupshaila1tomsmfrblogPhotos by Mark Breedon  Camp Galilee view Mark Breedon

and Tom Grey







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