It's been over a month since I "started" the Tara retreat. By started, I mean that my intention to do Tara practice at least three times a day was clear but the follow-through hasn't been what I expected. Instead, for the first month I've done what Lama Yeshe called a "research retreat." Not that this is a bad thing--especially for me--but it isn't what I now see as an unrealistic expectation on the front-end that probably would not have been as satisfying as where I'm moving towards today.
Rather than blindly recite all the praises to Tara I really dug into the background and meaning of the verses. I am by no means an expert now, but I do feel a small amount of understanding when I recite the practices. In addition, my explorations have opened me to new discoveries. I realize that how I did many practices in the past was very, very faulty. I won't beat myself up about this because at least I was trying at the level I was at then. Now my practices are faulty but every day I learn a bit more that helps me gain small insights into how profound and beautiful the Dharma is. It is truely the medicine that heals all suffering!
Where I began blogging (feebly, I must say) to be able to record my thoughts and things that happen, now I feel much more inclined to keep this to myself. I can say that I am starting my Ngondro practices now. For probably 15 years I've said that some day I'd like to do Ngondro. Ha, ha! Well, what's wrong with today? Yesterday I got up off my fanny and began seriously to accumulate prostrations and refuge recitations.
Something I read that Lama Yeshe had advised helped me do this. He's said to always start a retreat the evening before you plan to start. That way you have everything you need together, you've gone through the practice one time, and when you get up the next day it seems a little easier. That seems to be working for me in a lot of ways. By applying just a little more push in the evening, I find that I can roll the rocks easier the next day.
Observing special practice days has been very helpful and ultimately meaningful. Feeding the birds daily and walking my dog are helping, too. I'm happy with what I have.
As rain pelts the tree out my window,
A lone squirrel on a branch looks in,
Eyes seeking, perhaps asking?
Compassion washes my heart.