I was planning on celebrating my one-year Namchak employment anniversary with my co-workers and Namchak Khen Rinpoche in New York City. I was excited to see people I met at my first retreat a year ago and to connect with new friends. But a microscopic virus threw a giant and alarming wrench in my—and probably most of your—plans. As you may already know we moved our events online in order to take precautions amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Our team readjusted quickly, and we hosted our first online weekend retreat in March.
Unfamiliar technology often makes me anxious and initially feels overwhelming, so I’ll be honest and say that I was a little skeptical about an online event. How connected could I possibly feel with a screen and all this technology between us? However, my technology-suspicious heart softened in seconds when my screen was full of smiling faces from across the U.S. introducing themselves. I couldn’t help but return their smiles with one of my own.
We spent the weekend apart but together deepening our Shamata or Calm Abiding practice with the help of Khen Rinpoche. I would describe his teaching style as warm, approachable, informative, and sprinkled with delightful humor. We got to ask questions, discuss our practice sessions, laugh at Khen Rinpoche’s Tibetan humor, and perhaps most importantly acknowledge that we were all feeling anxious about COVID-19. All of this created a deep sense of connection that cut through our screens.
As the weekend went on, I thought of more and more positive things about online events. And I think one of my favorite parts was that everyone can join from the comfort of their own home. To feel social while also being home…it’s an introvert’s dream, really, haha! As an introvert, I feel like I can say that.
Technology is an incredible connector, and I am so grateful to have access to it. I never thought I’d have such warm feelings of gratitude towards a computer. Please spread the word about our upcoming Shamata retreatand keep an eye out for future online offerings! Our goal is to make these retreats financially accessible for all. If registration fees are problematic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org information about tuition assistance!
Yes, we are in the midst of a pandemic, but we still need to connect. We need each other probably more than usual. Last week in an office-wide email, one of my co-workers wrote, “our connections are our strengths.” And I couldn’t agree more. Stay connected, stay healthy, and I hope to see you online soon!