February 12, 2013

Sesshin in the snow

Aalstveit Farm, the sesshin location
[Submitted by Meido Roshi]

Our first sesshin in Norway was concluded this past Sunday.  Eight students gathered on a farm in the small town of Hemsedal, set in a long alpine valley about four hours by car from Oslo. 

Our event organizer was Jeremy Wilson:  a farmer, mountain guide and long-time practitioner of martial arts, he and his wife Kirsten have converted an old cowshed on their farm into a beautiful space for training, massage therapy and other activities.  Looking out onto acres of fields and spruce forest rising up to the slopes of  the mountains which ring the valley, it is a silent and ideal place for practice.

Students from both Norway and Germany trained together, including several with only a little sitting experience.  I expect the beginners especially found the training challenging, but they met it well and with an almost joyful stubbornness that was wonderful to witness.  Kirsten served as our tenzo, and mealtimes were a highpoint:  wonderful fare eaten in a dining room with windows opening up to views of the white mountains.  Jeremy essentially served as shika, taking good care of everyone and seeing to their needs.  Lars Limburg from Kiel, Germany served as handaikan during formal teas.  I was happy to give several informal talks, taking one of Omori Roshi's teisho as inspiration and also instructing essential breathing methods and Hakuin Zenji's nanso no ho.

Many thanks to everyone who participated.  I look forward to future sesshin in Hemsedal, and invite all of our members to come train in the future with our friends there.