Little Dust held our very first meditation retreat during January 2023. The long weekend retreat on Taming the Monkey Mind was a collaboration with Central West Buddhists (CWB), an organisation led by Chris Anderson that aims to bring Buddhist teachings and cultural events to communities in the greater central western region of NSW, including Orange, Dubbo and Bathurst. I am the spiritual advisor to Central West Buddhists and have worked with them in the past, bringing Dhamma and cultural events to Orange for the Thai and Lao communities. This organisation was one of the inspirations for starting Little Dust because their work highlighted the need for more Buddhist activities in remote and regional communities around Australia.
The retreat was held at the Karma Yiwong Samten Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre (KYSL) in Molong, a thirty minute drive from Orange. We were blessed to have the presence of Venerable Lama Chewang Norbu Bhutia, who is the resident teacher at the centre, along with the support of caretakers Jerry and Rosie who helped us with all the eccentricities of the off grid property. We were also joined by Venerable Passana from Santi monastery, along with a diverse group of participants from all over NSW.
Being on a remote property in the Australian bush in high summer meant that It was hot and sticky weather for the retreat but despite the discomfort the retreatants made the most of the simple accommodation and facilities to deepen their meditation practice. Afterall, it’s easy to think one has great meditation when conditions are perfect, but when external conditions are challenging, that’s when we see the uncontrolled nature of our mind; a perfect lesson for the monkey mind theme of this retreat. We learnt many lessons from observing the nature around us; seeing the splendour of the milky way in all it’s startling clarity certainly helps put things in perspective!
Participants ended the retreat by drawing their own meditation animal, a being that represented the tendencies of their mind, with hilarious results, see below:
Watch a recording from the retreat below about how we can tame the monkey mind by overcoming distracting thoughts:
Many thanks to Chris from Central West Buddhists for doing all the hard work to organise and manage the retreat. Thanks to Jerry for making sure we had enough power to keep cool. Many thanks also to Chrissy for all these great photos and to Ashnith for editing the videos.