By Jo-ann Rosen in March 1996
Last September eight of us from Ukiah, California attended the Northern California retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. While we were friends in varying combinations, it was the first time we'd come together spiritually. By the last day, we were all feeling joy and excitement at the new ways in which we felt connected.
Sitting down together for lunch the last day, we could barely contain our energies. There was one other diner at our table, who, after great patience, asked us to please slow down. The request fell on my shoulders like a Zen master's stick. All of a sudden, what I had been perceiving as joyful fun I saw through more mindful eyes. After meditating on this sudden shift in perception, I realized that my body was not accustomed to containing so much joy. It was as though I needed to ease the sensations in my body by letting out some of the joy in the form of muted rowdiness. Previous to this I would have held that the rowdiness was joyous connection. Now I see that it is a poor substitute for the deeper, richer joy I am capable of feeling during a more mindful calm. My deepest appreciation for the Dharma sister who was brave enough to speak up.