Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

//Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour I

Good morning from Paris. Here’s what I’m thinking about today:

When I was a child in America, there was a program on television called « This Is Your Life. » A person who had secretly been selected to be the subject was called on stage and his or her entire life was presented, from childhood to present, with pictures, stories, interviews with friends and family and even long lost loved ones brought on stage. I remember being fascinated by the whole thing, by the past being lived in the present moment with the subject as witness of his or her own life unfolding for all to see.

Similarly, our retreat this week is a plunge into the unfolding of life, into the unfolding moment-to-moment of your life. That unfolding is unfathomable, it’s so deep and wide and intricate and endless.

Today, our week begins with finding some stillness in it all. Sit down in the morning, if only for a few minutes, and take a look: This is your life. Feel how that feels. Experience it. No thoughts necessary.

Then throughout the day come back to that, see if there’s some stillness, look at whatever is there at that moment – at work, at home, brushing your teeth, buying lunch, walking to the car, dropping the children at school, meeting with colleagues… Just bear witness to it, the details, the uniqueness of it. Whatever it is, that’s your life, neither good nor bad. And then take a minute to tell us about it here, in whatever language you choose.

By | 2017-04-04T06:58:13+01:00 avril 11th, 2016|Textes|22 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. André 12 avril 2016 at 23 h 45 min - Reply

    Even belated, I´d like to share some impressions of my first day of retreat. I could only sit in the morning before work. It was fine but the main experience was feeling the proximity of the people I met during the day, at the workplace, at my daughter´s school or just walking at the streets. And then the words of Roshi – « Everyone you meet or pass every day all week is participating in this retreat because you are. Keep that in mind. It makes a difference » – made sense and difference. Thank you all.

  2. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 17 h 53 min - Reply

    wrong day. Sorry 🙂

  3. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 17 h 51 min - Reply

    I am uncertain, if I can convey my thoughts, but I try.
    Today I saw five patients, age between 75 and 87. Two of them diagnosed with cancer. All at the end of their life. Who were they and the world before I got born, and how will life keep going after the «I» of these five people is dead? In between we have a short encounter, where I feel always humbled by their life experience. How little do I know, although I come in their houses with a huge knowledge? What was the world about before I got born and what will it be, after I died? How arrogant to think, I know what it is and who I am in the few years in between that are called «my life»?
    Noon break sitting at the lake of Zug and watching the wondrous, huge mountains. Am I watching these million years old beings or do they watch me? The water of the lake looks still and yet is no second the same. A mirror of myself, if I allow it to be experienced.
    Closing time I went to buy five books: Mitchell, Irving, Murakami, Atwood. All books that play in the realm of wonder and mystery. I step through this gate all the time. Like my Dharma name: Subtle Gate. May I ever be able to dive so deeply and fly so wide like the fish and the bird in the Genjokoan, so my need is satisfied? «We must know that there are inexhaustible characteristics in the ocean and the mountains and there are many other worlds in the four directions. This is not only true in the external world, but also right here under our feet or in a single drop of water.» Why can I not give up the wish to know? «There is nothing to attain» is said in the Heart Sutra. Yes I want to know life so badly and as much as I can before I die.
    Can I at least grow enough roots to grow like a wild flower? Uncertain.
    I seems as if life does take care that my questioning never ends.

  4. Evi 12 avril 2016 at 5 h 04 min - Reply

    When I read the inspiration, it was late in the evening, because I get up early and my day was full. So I was mostly looking at all of your comments and practiced stillness during the class of kinaesthetics. The last step of kinaestetics is human function and goes from the capacities of laying on the floor to crawling, sitting, standing. In said, in dying, this goes backwards, why don’t we train those capacities as well. We will go for it, getting still, letting go and appreciate thise gift we have and just realize, shortly before we loose it. Bittersweet life, maybe to experience and enjoy it, while we have it and let it go consciously instead of complaining all the time, is the real life with human functions.

  5. João 11 avril 2016 at 23 h 11 min - Reply

    Two things very present during the day: Roshi’s words on how «Everyone you meet or pass every day all week is participating in this retreat because you are. Keep that in mind. It makes a difference», which I remembered during the day, and the fact that I did invite someone to sit with us, even though I didn’t remember reading about it (just saw it again now on going back to that message welcoming the participants in this retreat). It makes so much sense, sharing this pratice, make others know about it, providing opportunities for it. In a word: serve.

  6. Gonçalo Moreira 11 avril 2016 at 23 h 04 min - Reply

    Today I had a pretty busy day. I had to drive for a couple of hours and so I used that time to just sink into the moment and into the wholeness of this present moment.

  7. Rita 11 avril 2016 at 22 h 57 min - Reply

    This morning I walked to work as I usually do at mondays. I’ve descended in the elevator noticing I was bit later than planned, and when I opened the door through the garage (ground -3), the light was very bright and white, clouds seemed frozen, and no car was passing by. Hmm.. it seemed I was the only one in a rush. Probably, I thought, every one else is in time and that is why there is no one but me here as usual. A few meters down the hill, though in a hurry, I had to stop. In front of me there was Sal, the dog who bite me a few months ago, walking Patricia, the owner. Suddenly time stopped too. What rush? After crossing their building, stillness remained like if I was watching a screen (all in slow-motion) and don’t know how but I’ve managed to get to work in time.
    During the day I had the feeling everyone was encouraging all the stillness around. Clients didn’t call. Projects are in pause.

    Love to all

  8. Helena 11 avril 2016 at 22 h 47 min - Reply

    The entire day dweling on stilness and shadow, I am in retreat and others are in retreat vs. I want to make this person vanish from the face of the earth.
    Hard day, dark side won!

  9. Telma 11 avril 2016 at 22 h 35 min - Reply

    Courage and weekness are the words that better describe my day and the heart of my life. They both are, because they are a consequence of the cold fear i feel inside. Fear of disappointing, making bad choices, losing opportunities, hurting people, sensibility, adventure, of love and being happy. Fear of not Being. Fear of ego. Fear of losing (or the possibilty of never had found, and not finding, the way?

    alonelyness or lonelyness? Lovable or not able to love?

    Thank you.

  10. Manon 11 avril 2016 at 22 h 16 min - Reply

    Silence dans le chant des oiseaux très tôt ce matin.
    Silence ce soir.
    Je m’allonge.

  11. Christine 11 avril 2016 at 22 h 15 min - Reply

    Filled with joy and happiness about my evening class. It was very alive and fluid and an open-hearted exchange. Good night to everybody.

  12. Tomas 11 avril 2016 at 21 h 47 min - Reply

    So much stillness, before sitting looking for stillness, already here

    Putting baby to sleep, trying myself not to fall asleep

    Remembering the stillness of the day, stillness shining, moving, laughing, talking, driving

    Stillness barking and running to catch a ball in hope for a treat in return

    Stillness baby diaper changing stillness

    Ha! Stillness-life-love….grateful 🙂

    After the sitting ‘without’ stillness I stretched my warms in a great bow inviting all past & disowned memories/voices/relations to come join me in my heart. Soothing, liberating, healing. You are all welcome, you are all stillness 🙂

  13. marlene 11 avril 2016 at 21 h 39 min - Reply

    Dinner. Alone at home. A long quiet day. And here I am, knowing about you and being with you, the day ending as it started: a felt sense of us being together.

  14. Elizabeth 11 avril 2016 at 21 h 07 min - Reply

    What a heavy start ,an inspection in my house ……in the morning .
    The townhall wants to close the process of making works while the roof is still leaking !
    Compassion for the man who made the works but ……I want my roof repaired!
    The whole day thinking I am in a retreat! And being so silly .cold and wanting to eat the whole day
    which is not me ….lucky our weekly meeting with Dharma friends this evening and sitting together
    and wearing my sweater inside out ….silly me
    Good night

  15. Tiago 11 avril 2016 at 19 h 01 min - Reply

    I usually read on my commute. I read to shut everyone else away so that I can enjoy « my journey » in « peace ». That’s the truth. Today I tried to bear witness to each and everyone of them on the train and quickly felt that I was shutting away all the rest of my life with that book. So, I closed it for the way back home. And drop all the comments like « he shouldn’t speak so loud, how doesn’t he notice he is being obnoxious?? » « she is painting her nails now?? why do we have to smell it?? » and on and on and on… I managed to be still in rush hour though. Not that I was moving so slowly as to annoy everyone else! I still ran to catch the train and move along with all the others. The thoughts were still though.

  16. Cristina (Ocean of Generosity) 11 avril 2016 at 18 h 16 min - Reply

    Olá a todos, neste retiro no Coração da minha vida resolvi escrever em Português, a minha língua materna.
    A proposta para hoje « Isto é a minha vida » faz mais sentido partilhar o que vivi escrevendo em português.
    Pela manhã sentei-me, o que me proporcionou paz, fui às compras após deixar a minha filha na escola, tudo muito devagar poucas pessoas nas filas, muita chuva no exterior alternando com frio e sol.
    « Isto é a minha vida », hoje estive actualizar o meu curriculum vitae, revendo tudo o que tenho feito ao longo dos anos, como se eu também estivesse nesse programa de televisão « This Is Your Live ».
    Continuo a sentir calma mesmo agora que acabei de voltar para casa com a minha filha, e normalmente quando a vou buscar após um dia inteiro de escola, ela vem toda acelerada e temos discussão e muita agitação.
    Envio daqui um grande abraço ao Tomas, Joy e ao pequeno Maru, e obrigado por partilharem o vosso amor com todos nós.
    Obrigado Roshi pela possibilidade de participar neste Retiro.
    Um abraço a todos vocês que estão comigo neste Retiro.

    • Tomas 12 avril 2016 at 12 h 55 min - Reply

      Obrigado Cristina 🙂 Um abraco para ti tambem!

  17. céu 11 avril 2016 at 18 h 11 min - Reply

    in it all


  18. céu 11 avril 2016 at 18 h 02 min - Reply

    the plan it was going work;
    after writhing some portuguese words on this place I began my way to go work by driving and I provoke an accident (Crash) whit other car (everything ok whit me and other people) only cars are broken
    I thought in the « including others »
    the man which I disturb the daybeginning was a nice person
    other way, the possibility to be here and to read and to right whit you all
    grande abraço

    • Kathleen 11 avril 2016 at 20 h 50 min - Reply

      At yoga this morning I managed not to let latecomers « disturb the daybeginning » (thank you, Ceu, for this wonderful expression), by including them in the retreat. Usually I resent them and let them invade my space.

      My usual teacher, who’s been pretty stressed recently, wasn’t there, but in her place was Isa. At the end of the session when taking stock of the difference of how I felt at the beginning and the end of the lesson, I felt I was floating, physically and mentally. Not sure whether it was the effect of the retreat or of Isa’s serenity and excellent guidance – probably both. Certainly both.

      A quiet afternoon writing, mostly forgetting about the retreat, then bringing myself back. And now, reading your comments.


  19. zoe 11 avril 2016 at 16 h 48 min - Reply

    Like all other retreats, this one brings more awareness into senses. In my experience ‘retreat’ = more awareness, which brings about a quiet and spacious stillness that is not a given outside of it– not always. Since this morning, i’ve felt the anchor of retreat, which makes moments stretch into space, deepening the felt senses. A lot like what i remember from my childhood experiences : slow motion as if moving under water!
    And i have stopped myself from the urge to retrace all that taught me to zoom past my life at times. Ah, well, there’s only this for now! I drop the comparative, analytical muddle when i see through it. Feel lucky to have the opportunity to switch off the automatic pilot mode.
    Wishing you all a nice evening from Ivry,

  20. Christine 11 avril 2016 at 16 h 33 min - Reply

    Hi all,
    have been sitting this morning after bringing the kids to school. Haven’t been sitting for a long time…
    Then a trip to Leroymerlin, doing some shopping and including other customers in the retreat. Stillness in the waiting lines.
    Tonight I’ll be teaching other parents some skills to make parenting easier. And always faced myself with the challenge to raise the kids with the respect that I would have liked to have when I was a kid, not an easy task ! Looking forward to reading from you ! Christine

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