Welcome to Mondo Samu - Questions and Answers about my self-work.

Mondō: "questions and answers"; a recorded collection of dialogues between a pupil and teacher.
Samu: Work service; meditation in work.


Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 State of the Samu Address

Previously on MondoSamu.com:

2010: I weighed 349 pounds.  I read "Savor" by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung.  I surprisingly, and rather effortlessly,  lost 110 pounds in 11 months by applying it's Mindful Eating, Mindful Living principles. Through "Savor" I was introduced to Buddhism.

2011: Having lost 110 pounds, I plateaued at around 240 and have stayed right around there.  I've continued my healthier lifestyle, as well as my Buddhist practice.  I had hoped to get some health matters handled such as getting a full physical, but I have found many excuses to postpone that one.

2012: And now, the rest of the story....

So, while I failed to do a couple of medical/health things I wanted to this year (so far) I'm extremely pleased with how my year has gone regarding my health and practice.  I am disappointed that I didn't blog more, and I apologize for that to those who enjoy reading here.  I'll try to do better this year.

First, in terms of my health - which is kind of the main focus of why I started this blog - let me update you there, as it's the short part of the story.  As I mentioned, I've leveled off and unless I reduce my food, or increase my exercise, I guess I'm done losing weight.  I still have a goal to lost about 20-30 more pounds, and I will definitely be focusing on that this year. (See the end of this article for my intentions for the coming Samu year)  As for me, I feel GREAT, and I'm happier than ever!  So health is doing well, and I WILL get the doctor stuff handled this year.

Now...the biggest thing that happened in the last year, and the reason for me not blogging as much, is the incredible deepening of my practice.  I said I was going to do it, but I had no idea how deep I would get with it!

First off, I used to post book reviews of various Dharma Books here.  I intended to continue that, and I still hope to do so.  The problem is that I got so deep in to reading them that I have read DOZENS, and before I knew it I was so far behind writing about them that I felt I didn't even really know where to begin.  I'll try to rectify that this year too!  They're one of the most helpful things on the blog I think.  So there was that.

Next, there was the plethora of Sangha's I visited in my travels.  I had the great and distinct pleasure of spending many sits in the presence of numerous loving and welcoming Buddhist Sangha's all over the country.  It was humbling, gratifying and helpful.  So helpful, in fact, that I finally launched one in my area!

After nearly a year of effort, I finally got enough people and resources together with a like mind to launch the Two Hands Sangha.  As a part of that Sangha, we have a steady Mindfulness Meditation Group that meets once per week.  It's hosted in the lovely home and garden of one of our members, and has been a great benefit to all involved, I think.  That progresses well.  I still want to have a secondary group, with a more Buddhist focus (as opposed to the more general Mindfulness group) but it will come.

Aside from the Sangha effort, I've also decided to start attending retreats.  I started getting serious about it, and all of a sudden, a couple of options for a 4 day Memorial Day Weekend retreat popped up.  One in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition and one in the Against The Stream/Theravadan tradition.  I struggled over both as I love the teachings in each, but ultimately my wife prompted me to do the ATS retreat in Joshua Tree, CA when I shared my thoughts with her.

Joshua Tree, CA - ATS Memorial Day Silent Retreat

I was concerned about the extra time a California retreat involves (an extra day on each end for travel) and a few other things, but I explained to her that I wanted to do whichever one would challenge me the most.  After telling her all about it, she wisely (and lovingly) suggested I do the ATS one.  She was right! I'll do a separate post all about that retreat, but it was definitely the right choice.  While I love the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition, I think the effort I had to put in definitely made the ATS retreat more rewarding.  Anyhow, now that I got my feet wet with a 4 day, I've cleared the way to attend a week or so each year.  I'm really looking forward to that.

As a direct result of the retreat, I also FINALLY went full Vegetarian!!  I was lingering in the meat eater world because I couldn't get rid of chicken, but the exquisite vegetarian food and mindful eating on retreat finally gave me the strength and clarity I needed to push the rest of the way over.  I've been veg-only since May 24th!

Last, but certainly not least, I've had the incredible fortune this year to meet some of my Online Dharma friends in the real world and grow closer to that online Sangha.  I hope, in the near future, to write a post all about that Sangha (or #Twangha as I hashtag it on Twitter), but suffice it to say that I deepened my connections to that Sangha and it has had many, varied rewards for me.  This year I was fortunate enough to hang out in the "real world" with the likes of @DharmaApple (who attended the retreat I was on and has turned out to be a great friend), @Jacklope (One of the nicest guys ever, whom I consider a dear brother and friend, and even teacher at times), @MindOnly (a wonderful human being, if ever I've met one) and many, many more.....too many to mention them all here.  But that's been one of the greatest things for me. I've developed these deep, wonderful friendships thoroughly through the Dharma and it's SO rewarding in so many ways.  I'll explore some of that more in my future post on the matter.  In a couple of weeks, I'll be meeting an online Twitter friend who has already become like a sister to me, @KittyDew, and I can't WAIT for that!

I'm sure, after such a lengthy absence, I'm leaving something out, but I think that's enough for now.  SO...

My intentions for the next 12 months or so are:

  • Remain vegetarian. 
  • Attend a 7-10 day retreat!
  • Continue to deepen my practice.
  • Establish better personal health care (routine Doctor and Dentist visits)
  • Re-Read Savor AGAIN and see if bringing a little focus back on to it will shed that last 20!
  • Cultivate two personal, long-range, Dharma-work-related projects in the right livelihood area that I've in mind! (Ooooh, secret-y!)

So that's it.  I hope you'll hang with me in the coming year, as I explore even more!