A Walk Through the Woods

Sunday is our usual day off from work practice. We generally all try to make the most of it by making time to do the things that really bring us joy. Last Sunday was no exception. Most of us opted for a trip to the beach because the weather was absolute perfection. We had sunshine, blue skies, calm air and time. So much time.

Three of us volunteers decided to walk there. It is about a 10-mile hike depending on which trails you take. We opted for the North Trail, which takes you through Salt Point State Park. This State Park is home to acres of California’s famous redwood trees. We also learned along the way that the lesser-known bishop pine is the first line of defense from the chilly ocean breeze. Janet, a long-time resident of the area and student of Tarthang Tulku, had explained how different the weather is just on the other side of the valley thanks to our curtain of trees.

Ratna Ling attracts people from all walks of life. We have all ended up here from different cities, states, and even countries. One common thread though is an interest in Buddhist principles. On our walk, we had a chance to not only commune with nature but also to get to know one another better. The same trees that block the coastal breeze provided a stage for us to share our lives and to dissect complex internal and societal issues. Make sure to pack your curiosity when you decide to join us here, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The coastline was a remarkable sight. There are very few homes or businesses on this stretch of Highway 1, which means it is easy to find a perch along the ridge to feel as if you are all alone.  I found a spot above a small canyon where the waves washed in like soap suds, whipped soft and fluffy. Isn’t it something how the ocean keeps coming back to kiss the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away?  

The trip back was quieter. Satisfied with all of the information we had collected on the way in, I took some space to digest. This was also a great time to practice Skillful Means. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read this book, or if you’re unfamiliar and know what it’s like to feel burdened by your work, maybe even resentful that it cuts into your “me” time, I highly recommend picking up a copy.

One of my takeaways from Skillful Means and applying it to my job at Ratna Ling has been giving each task its own importance and devoting your full energy and awareness to it. In this case, rather than spending the entire time reliving the beautiful conversation I’d had a couple of hours before, I dedicated some space to just enjoying the place I was in. How my feet lifted from the trail one at a time, the rustle of leaves from hikers ahead of me, how the air felt on my skin, etc. This is what you can expect as a Volunteer at Ratna Ling. The time, space and the support you need to do work that matters to you and how you can apply that principle in all areas of your work, not just the way you earn money. In this way, we redefine what work truly is and what it can be.

Earlier this week was devoted to the Longchenpa ceremony. We chanted for two days in order to welcome the blessings of Longchenpa, the founding lama of the Nyingma School of Buddhism, and to harness them to share amongst all beings. Keep an eye out for a recap in the next blog post.

Curious about the trails around here? This is a great map!


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