“Twas the Last Night of Shinzen”


by Stephanie Nash


Steph’s Take on her first overnight retreat

 Talking Circle, VSI/Santa Barbara, Jan. 8, 1999



‘Twas the last night of Shinzen, and all through the retreat

Was the sound of knees cracking, sore butts and cold feet.


But we maintain that devoted meditational groove

Cause when Shinzen is guiding – our mantra’s DON’T MOVE!


I was a new arrival to this 2 week retreat

This marks my 6th day (--which for me no small feat.)


I entered quite eager (even though at 5 we were to wake-up?!)

But hell, at least I was getting a week with NO MAKE UP!

(Which for an actress is a treat kind of hard to explain—

Kind of like sitting for hours without any pain.)


I was blessed with a roomate from heaven named Sue,

And when I slept through a meal she somehow automatically knew

And I’d awake to red apples & cookies & bread

While visions of Consciousness danced through my head.


She also showed me how to hold my hands & to chant.

(All this without talking, of course…you understand.)


At first, catching up to the focus you’d all gained

After 8 days was hard.  –My concentration waned.

Then I whined to Shinzen in a private interview

That this was all just so technical!  --Felt like playing scales!



He patiently explained what I’d heard him say

Before—and on tape—and I slithered away,

Sure I wasted his time & why was I here?

Can I really meditate?  And, alas, I did fear

That my mind was the one that would wander galore

And never stop to go deeper and know God even more.


So I hiked…and I sat…and I sat…getting fat…

And soon my mind slowed down – thank God for that!


On Monday they came along with poles for our backs

To see if we were upright – (thank God for no "WHACKS.")

But when I was corrected, to my great surprise,

My problem was less forward – I’d been leaning to the SIDE!!


It’s no doubt due to tension and stress in my neck.

So I got a massage from Bill.  (Hey, what the heck!)


He told stories of sweat lodges & sun dancing – in the shade…?

And vision quests, & after a few jokes – I fear he was underpaid.


Now, --whoever came up with the idea of ON-LINE

Should be Knighted or Canonized or considered Divine.

What a treat to be plugged in during your MOST PRIVATE TIME

To the voice & the guidance of Sir Shinzen’s Mind.


The next day I arose feeling bliss & great joy

And saw God everywhere & exclaimed "Oh boy!"

When it came time to sit & hang out more with God

And then something happened that I through rather odd.


I started to float – in the air—above my place,

And over the room – looking down on the space.

It seemed oddly normal – so I practiced then

The Equanimity referred to a lot by Shinzen.


I radiated much Metta and of course felt assured

That for this Shinzen surely had a name or a word

No doubt in Greek, Pali, Hebrew or Sanskrit

With historical data to accompany it.


And at the sound of the ring from that dish or that gong,

What’s that thing called?  (Oh, I’d just get it wrong…)

Anyway, then I came back down with my soul.

(Hey, I bet it’s called something apropos – like "Za" Bowl!)


And so…

We’ve learned Theorems & Paradigms & Talk/Image/Feel

And Counting the Breath – oh boy, what a deal!

Where else can you get this kind of stuff?

Like Kenosis, Henosis & Theosis – never enough!


But the reason I came was for Clarification

(And Shinzen’s got lots of that for your information.)


And I just need to note that Harold is one reason I’m here.

There were some real important things that he made real clear.

And when I told him of my dream of Expansion & Contraction

He assured me this was the place for that action.


And to Shinzen, who according to my calculations

Has had little (or no) sleep since the first bell’s vibration,

Thank you for your Egoless Giving & Care

For our Clarity, our Growth – our Spiritual Welfare.


(And who knew that you were such a great performer!  Oh!

You Sang that Poetry like Music!  Like Shakespeare!  BRAVO!)


And to Nicola – who last night took my breath away…

With her Gracious Dignity & Final Poignant Say.


And to Judith, and Philip, and all who worked so hard every day

To make things run smoothly for our meditative stay.


And lastly, I send my Appreciation & Heart

To everyone  here who’s played such a part

In this Work, this Celebration, this Sharing of our

Energies, & Focus & Commitment –Every Hour.


I now know this is important work we’re meant to do.

And I applaud everyone’s Courage in seeing it through.

2011 Stephanie Nash - All Rights Reserved