It is Tuesday evening in Kyoto, Japan. We have just finished conducting a Live Conscious Retreat. In our retreats, all participants use pseudonyms, no one uses their real name. For this retreat Hannah chose the name “Yuuki”, which is the Japanese word for courage, and I chose the name “Mr. Lucky”—which in Japanese is Mr. Lucky.
The quality that stood out for me during this retreat was a pervasive awareness of the preciousness of life. One of my favorite students—a beautiful elder—said, “I suffered as a child, then I lost the love of my life fifteen years ago, and now I have heart disease . . . yet still I love life; I appreciate every moment.”
It’s all very simple.
He came to the retreat “confused” and “anxious,” and left the retreat saying, “It’s all very simple. The pieces of the puzzle of my life haven’t changed, but through my new understanding and acceptance the pieces go together in a new way—I put the pieces together in a new way—forming a new puzzle.” He left the retreat joyous and energetic.
One woman, who survived brain cancer and was told by her doctors that the longest she will live is another decade, came to the retreat to gain clarity about her life purpose. She decided to create a Hospice program that will incorporate the principles of Live Conscious. And another woman decided to join in this endeavor, because she had lost her husband to cancer when she was a young woman.
I amazed myself with how many of the participants told stories of losing loved ones—in almost every case it was due to cancer. Maybe this is what contributed to a sacred quality throughout the retreat. Maybe it was the beauty surrounding us. We worked in a training room with glass walls and outside the glass walls were sculpted trees, flowering bushes and moss covered rocks.
One afternoon we participated in a tea ceremony. The tea room (pictured here) was bordered on two sides by water. These small ponds were inhabited by frogs—a species so rare that they are a national treasure—who serenaded us while our tea was served. And when the sun or moon shines on the water outside the tea house, the light reflects up onto the ceiling inside the tea house creating a light show that changes moment by moment. The tea is made and served with great reverence.
All so intentional, so thoughtful, so deliberate. And so was the retreat. This was the first time in all my years of working in Japan that I worked with Yuuki. I delighted myself in her presence. We danced all week long—even when we weren’t dancing. I had no desire to be anywhere else, do anything else, or think about anything else. I was as present as I’ve ever been and delighted myself in my experience.
Sharing my delight with all of you.