Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oregon Adventure: Vegan Eats and Sea Lions

After I left my Vipassana retreat (read about it here), I spent some time alternatively between Portland and the Oregon Coast. Sadly, my trip was filled with many hiccups including my carry-on bag breaking, my purse breaking (resulting in me using a Whole Foods Bag for both), my GPS breaking on the last day, meaning I never got to visit the art gallery, the beach being a cool 55 degrees and drizzle my first and part of second day, and my luggage being stolen at the airport in Kansas City. A wonderful ending to a disappointing trip. Fortunately, my luggage has been discovered, a kind older woman took the wrong bag, has returned it to the airport, and they are delivering as we speak. Thank you Universe!!! There were some highlights, including visiting the Sea Lion Caves, a Dune Buggy ride through the Sand Dune National Park, my final beach day sunny and early 60's so I got to dig my toes in the sand after all, Powell bookstore, discovering some amazing pizza (not-vegan) and several vegan restaurants plus an entire vegan strip mall.

The beauty of the ocean, as seen from my balcony

Sea Lions are very chatty!

Local Portland Pizza, creamy garlic sauce, artichoke hearts, spinach and tomato

Spicy Butternut and Black Bean Chili Vegan Quesadilla from Blooming Lotus

Peaches and Cream Smoothie from Blooming Lotus

Spicy hot chocolate with rice milk from Red and Black Cafe

Anarchist Vegan Grandma in Dominatrix Heels at Red and Black Cafe

Vegan deliciousness from Sweet Pea Bakery
(Chocolate cupcake, apple spice coffee cake, cinnamon roll, banana bread and hiding, a brownie)

Closer look at that cupcake!

Vegan Strip Mall view of Herbivore and Food Fight Grocery

Cacao smoothie from Prasad

Chili Bowl with rice, vegan chili, avocado, and steamed greens from Prasad

Have you been to Oregon? Share your trip experiences here!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I Left My Vipssana Experience Early

Imagine going skiing for the very first time, and instead of taking a class and trying out the bunny slopes, you went to the black slopes, chose the most difficult, and jumped off the side of the mountain, praying you made it down in one piece. That is how Vipassana felt to me. Check out my original post Why Vipassana Meditation Made It On My 2011 Intentions to see why I went in the first place. Needless to say, not the experience I anticipated.

The experience is 10 days, in a remote retreat. You take a vow of silence, which also means no eye contact with your fellow students. The morning bell rings at 4am, with approximately 10 hours of meditation scheduled during the day, half mandatory in the hall, a few hours on your own in your room, and the rest up to the teachers discretion. Meals are served at 6:30am and 11am, simple vegetarian meals. Tea is at 5pm, and in the evening we watch a video created by one of the original teachers of the method. All that I took in well. Granted, it takes awhile to adjust to the sleep schedule and no dinner, but it gets easier. The silence is actually very peaceful. The only time I found it challenging was in those basic social situations, such as bumping into someone and wanting to say "Pardon Me". I had a lady elbow me hard in the head, and you could tell she automatically wanted to apologize, but since she couldn't look at me or speak to me, she scuttled off as quickly as possible.

The meditation itself got to me. Most boring experience of my entire life. I knew Buddhist meditations were simple, most focus on breathing, some do have visualization, and I knew this would be very simple, HOWEVER, I did not expect to spend 3.5 days FOCUSING ON MY NOSTRILS! Yes, my friends, the secret to gaining clarity in meditation and the first step on the path to enlightenment is  to spend approximately 40 hours in 3 days focusing on the small triangle area of your nose. Observe, observe, observe.....for hours, and hours, and hours....yes, I went nuts. Day 4 in the afternoon we learned the actual technique of Vipssana, which basically you do the same thing, working your way through every single part of your body, for the next six days, approximately 65 hours of mediation. I expressed my desire to leave that night and was on the train to Portland the next morning. I knew it would be challenging, and I discovered I was not the first to leave, but I really wasn't prepared. Bunny slopes, bunny slopes.

I have the utmost respect for those who continue the program, and repeat it many times. I hope to one day be in that place and have a better appreciation for it. On a positive note, the establishment was in view of the mountains and had a lovely walking area we spent about an hour in everyday. Deer would come up to the dorm rooms, and one day the kitchen made the most delicious chocolate banana cake squares (which I snuck extra, yum!). The people were friendly and really kind when I chose to leave. Definitely a unique experience.

Do You Meditate? What Forms? Have You Ever Experience Vipssana or Thought About It?

Love and Gratitude: There's No Place Like Home

I've been in such a funk these last few weeks. My trip went all to hell, my finances are looking very unhealthy, my dog Triton has a severe Staph infection, the list goes on. I though some Love and Gratitude would help bring me back to focus. Remember, what we sent out, we get back, it's the Law of Attraction.

Little Things That Made Me Smile
My wonderful new showerhead that has actual water pressure, flowers in the front flower bed, new cozy sofa, new ceiling fan for the bedroom, seeing deer daily at my retreat, chocolate banana cake squares, visiting Sweet Pea vegan bakery and walking away with quite a haul, seeing the ocean, going on a Dune Buggy ride through the Sand Dunes, meeting a cool chic from Kansas in Portland at the Herbivore store and updating her on the new vegan scene in Kansas City, getting a discount on my beach side hotel, finding a cute organic cafe in Florence, making green smoothies again, the fact that Trader Joe's opens tomorrow just five minutes from my house, coming home to a clean home courtesy of my parents, new backyard light for the evenings, the fact that my suitcase has been found and should be returned to me tonight, free music mixes from Miss Moss, finding a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at the airport in Minneapolis, new episodes of Covert Affairs and White Collar, the killer summer finale of Doctor Who regarding the identity of River and Amy Pond's daughter, the fact that I have seven more OZ books to re-read, and a book of 9 new ones from written by Frank Baum daughter-in-law that I've never read, Kansas City library is buying all of the books I requested, the fact that I have the entire rest of the afternoon and evening to do whatever the heck I want, my cheese shredder, air-conditioning, a plumber for a Dad that can fix my running toilet and install a new garbage disposal for free, my flexible work schedule, healing sessions from my Mom, supportive emails from my friends, sleeping in my own bed

What's on your Love and Gratitude List? 
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