Peace is Every Step

Dear Friend,

So much happened at Deer Park. I’ve learned so much about myself. I learned about the practice of mindfulness and meditation – to take each step, each breath, each bite – with joy and purpose. I think the quote, “walk is if you are kissing the earth with your feet,” accurately summarizes the idea of everything I learned. It means to do things with love, with intention, with care and gentleness, it means to recognize the moment and each moment for what it is. Each step matters just as much as the destination.

This has been transformational for me. It has helped me understand and recognize my thoughts as they are happening. It’s almost like another dimension of awareness and liveliness I never knew existed. It’s like being woke on another level. Like I know I’m woke intellectually but this is like another kind of woke. It’s like a spiritual wokeness that is difficult to describe.

Most days we did meditation 4 times – 5:45am sitting meditation, 9am working meditation, 5pm walking meditation, and 8pm sitting meditation. Sitting meditation was the hardest, especially for 30-45 mins which is how long we usually did it for. I felt myself getting better, but it was still a very hard practice to keep my mind from wandering around. Yeah, I noticed that my mind wanders A LOT.

We had 3 meals a day – all amazing vegan food made by the monks. It was a good mix of all kinds of stuff – viet, italian, burgers, mac n cheese, etc. Surprisingly, I never had ANY craving for meat the entire week, which I was really surprised about. Each meal we ate in silence for 15 minutes and with intention.

The landscape there is beautiful. It’s in the mountains. In the night you can see the stars so clearly. I went on a few hikes and did a lot of staring into nothingness which was extremely soothing. I thought I would get bored but as I was getting to leave I found myself yearning for more time there. I wanted to stay another week. (But they wouldn’t let me >.<)

I also had a moment of realization at Deer Park. On my first day, I noticed myself getting anxious and timid, not wanting to talk to people, and making waves of assumptions about the people I was seeing just based on what I noticed about them. I got into this “I hope they don’t notice me” type of mentality. I didn’t notice I was doing this at first, but after a couple days I noticed how I had opened up to people and how so many of my assumptions about these people were completely off based. I think the mindfulness space was helpful in getting me to know, see, and understand my thoughts as they were happening in real time and sometime in the middle of the retreat I had a realization about myself. This is not the first time I have gotten this way. In fact, I realized that I have been this way all my life. Everytime I walk into a new and uncomfortable space I get this “I hope they don’t notice me” type of way. I think it’s a defence mechanism of sorts, starting all the way back to middle school, where I stay tried to stay as secluded and to myself as possible. I think it was a complex I developed from being bullied and trying to hide my sexuality. But to see what was happening at Deer Park and for the first time, see it as a pattern – I think was something very significant for me.

My experience at Deer Park has been transformational in so many ways. I’ve never felt so at peace and so liberated in my life. It’s like my mind and spirit were free when I was there with no worries at all. Only focusing on the beauty that exists in front of me. Like it was extremely healing for my soul. I will definitely take this practice of mindfulness throughout my life. I highly recommend it for you too! I think you will LOVE it!!! I also think about what this means for our society. If all of us had just a little understanding of mindfulness, what would that look for how we treat each other and how we treat the world? How do we bring this to type of mindset to the masses?

Lastly but definitely not least (I saved the juiciest for last :D). I developed a crush on a monk. I don’t know where to start. He’s 28 and Vietnamese. He was one of the first people to talk to me at the monastery and was helpful in getting my out of my “shell” (the one I just talked about) and get more conformable with the space. On the second day, he asked me to go to the lookout deck in the evening to look at the stars with him. I was excited to go sit with him and also had ALL OF THESE THOUGHTS GOING ON IN MY MIND. 

Does he like me? Is he hitting on me? But he’s a monk so he can’t like me. Or is he just being nice? Should I come out to him? Will he even accept me for being gay? SHOULD I HOOK UP WITH HIM?!?!

Yes all of these thoughts were in my mind. That night on the deck we chatted, he asked me about my life, asked me about my struggles and about my dad. He was so curious about me, I was wondering if he was like this with everyone or just me. I ended up coming out to him, he was completely accepting of course. He’s one of the most kind and caring people I’ve ever met.

We decided to go on a hike the next morning. During some of the hike, he put his arms around my shoulder as we walked. I’m like, “oooookaaayyy.” Lol. So I’m still thinking like, okay maybe he wants to do something with me? Should I make a move? Later that afternoon I text the boys group and B is like, that’s how they all are, they’re just really nice.

So I’m like ok. I won’t make any moves. I’ll just accept his kindness. Which was really great, because then I didn’t have all these thoughts and was able to just be good friends with him. The rest of the retreat, he really was my best friend. He would come up and talk to me when I was sitting around, we’d joke around with each other, he would talk to me about mindfulness. He gave me a gift as well (well two, one in the mid week, and another as I left). 

During my last night, we went to the deck together again to watch the stars. We just talked but our feet were touching a few times throughout the night. He continued to ask me questions about my life, questions that showed he cared about me. As I left, I wrote him a card, sharing my gratefulness of him for his kindness and for being so caring. I did develop a crush on him. B told me to think of him as a manifestation of someone I should seek out in a partner. I guess I never thought of it that way but it was really nice to think of it like that because I guess I never saw myself with a partner like that – I’m not sure why. He really was one of the nicest and sweetest human beings I have ever met. So I said goodbye, sad to be leaving the monastery and leaving him, but grateful that I found such a great friend in him.

Two days later, I get a Facebook message from him, saying he misses me. He also said he had become attached to me. I’m like WHAT THE FAAAHHCK DOES THAT MEAN. I think that’s his way of saying he was attracted to me. I was like I FREAKING KNEW IT. At that moment I learned to NEVER DOUBT MY GAYDAR AND INTUITION! So we talked, apparently this was his first time having feelings like this EVER for a ANYBODY. I’m like WOAH. What does that even mean? To experience a crush for the first time in your life at 28? Like I can only imagine that feeling like an emotional rollercoaster. Like crushes already are emotional roller coasters but to feel one for the first time in your life? AT 28 YEARS OLD??? He said he has to reevaluate what love is. I’m like yeah you do lol.

SO BASICALLY, I told him this isn’t something we can act on. He should focus on his studies. Like it’s just a crush and idk if he gets what that actually means. For all I know, he thinks this is what true love feels like. And I don’t want to act on it either, for his sake and mine. I don’t want to ruin his monkhood. I also don’t want to jump into anything.

BUT HOW CRAZY IS THIS STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like it’s totally a story from any gay asian forbidden love film – one boy likes the other, the other boy is “straight”, as the one boy leaves, the other confesses his love for him, their love is forbidden, nobody can know, the end. LOL!!!!!!


K. Love you and miss you,


3 thoughts on “Peace is Every Step

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