Woke up in a Temple
Ever dreamt of waking up in a castle? How about waking up in a temple?
After this weekend I can truthfully say, been there, done that. Both, the first in France and the second in Japan. With a friend married to a Buddhist priest, this dream came true. A weekend out of the city, practicing mindfulness. A true bliss!
Gretchen Miura, is from New Jersey. She came to Japan to teach English for a year, met a monk and married him. Seriously true! Gretchen and Keno are one of the sweetest couples I have met, looking out for each other, completing tasks. Parents to four kids, they live in the family temple up North in an area called Akita and it’s the temple of dragons, Dairyu-ji.
If you know Japan a little, you may have heard about the Akita area for it’s tradition of the Namahage. A story of demons that were destroying villages, stealing crop and kidnapping innocent girls. It’s all quite gruesome but now it’s a tradition during the end of the Winter, a bit like Mardi Gras in France or Fasnacht in Switzerland. The masks are scary though I do confirm, after an evening at a taiko – Namahage festival, even my hair stood up.
Apart of this, the area is gorgeous and wild. The ocean views are gobsmacking and the forest range is a spectacle of colours during Autumn and my friends temple is perched on top of a hill overlooking it all.
Everything was set up to disconnect from the outside world.
I brought my kids along to this weekend retreat of Zazen meditation, yoga and cooking. In Zen Buddhism, zazen is a meditative discipline that is typically the primary practice. The precise meaning and method of zazen varies from school to school, but in general it can be regarded as a means of insight into the nature of existence. I have done mediation before but never in such a magnificent setting as this temple.
We woke up at six for morning yoga, folded our beds away off the handwoven tatami mats, had home made organic meals we helped prepare, practiced daily meditation led by the master himself and visited the area including a hot spring.
Everything was set up to disconnect from the outside world. It was soothing for the mind, body and soul. Practicing mindfulness, gratitude, remembering open mindedness and respect. These are things that are precious to me, and to my role as a Mother of two kids.
We all helped prepare the food together with the Chef Yoshie, fitting in the theme of slow-living and consciousness. When you know how to prepare some of these Japanese dishes, you will notice how easy they are to make on your own.
Here is one recipe for you:
The pickles are made one day ahead, by cutting the vegetables in half and pressing them into a dish filled with white miso sauce (is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji). The next day the vegetables are rinsed and cut into edible pieces and the miso is used for the same purpose three to four times.
There is no waste. Rests either go into the compost or they are reused.
This is our weekend out of town, unlike others, waking up in a temple. Feeling grateful and happy.
Next workshop will be held sometime in May 2018. For dates, follow Dairyuji Temple here.