The long weekend on Memorial Day was slightly different for the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) San Francisco Young Adult Division (SFYAD). SFYAD organized a 3-day meditation retreat at Point Reyes National Park.
Since Point Reyes has limited communication signals, the group was very focussed during the retreat.
Under the leadership and guidance of Venerable Miao Zhong and the event committees, the group successfully completed a 3-day retreat.On the first day, Selene Chew, President of SFYAD, led the group with a prayer before setting off to Point Reyes. Qiulin Peng, the organizer of the retreat, planned many activities for the group. Among these were several hiking trips, picnic, making meals together, cooking competition, bonfire, and most importantly, meditation sessions and discussion. During these activities, we made new friends, memories, and understood each other better.The group bonded very naturally, and everyone helped each other out with responsibilities such as cooking, washing, and packing.
During the meditation sessions, Venerable Miao Zhong led us to understand the benefits of meditation for both our physical and mental health.We experienced both indoor and outdoor meditation. We learnt several breathing techniques to aid us in rejuvenating ourselves, releasing stress from our bodies and minds.We learnt to anchor our focus point on a single object, be it the sound of the birds, water, or our breath. The venerable also gave us several questions to investigate throughout the day. They were “What does it mean to have the whole world within you?” and “What is the difference between water and wave?” At the end of the day during the bonfire, the Venerable led a discussion about these two questions, and encouraged us to practice our realization after the retreat.
Many of the participants gave very positive remarks about the retreat. Many enjoyed the Tomales Point Trail hike on the last day, cooking competition, the mediation, and bonfire. Everyone enjoyed the cooperative nature of the group, especially during the cooking competition. One of the participants said “Everyone is helpful and cooperated. It is simple yet fun and happy when everyone is trying to help. When everyone is involved, those chores become fun.”.
To sum up the experience of the whole trip, participants learned more about themselves during the retreat. New friendships and great memories were formed. Through being in nature for the 3 days, we learnt more about the nature of our minds.
Text: Winson Yang, Edited: Venerable Miao Zhong; Photos: KeeHeng Tiow, Katrina Chak, Selene Chew