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Lions Roar : May 2018
MELL YOUR FOOD and make sure to take small bites so you can savor the taste and appreciate the meal,” says Jake, a former Thai monk who is one of the teachers at the weeklong People of Color meditation retreat I’m attending. Despite studying Buddhism for over thirty years, identify- ing as a Buddhist, and even obtaining a doctorate in Buddhist Studies, I am a relative newcomer to daily meditation and retreat practice. This lack of meditation experience is pretty common among Asian American Buddhist practitioners such as myself. In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that only 14 percent of Asian American Buddhists claim to meditate. Yet I have long wished for a sangha where I could meditate, feel at home in my Korean-American body, and not stand out as a woman of color in the sea of white practitioners who seem to “S predominate meditation centers in the U.S. So when I saw an online advertisement for a People of Color retreat at a center in Northern California, I jumped at the opportunity. At this retreat, which feels like a Buddhist summer camp, with its dormitories, kitchen hall, hiking trails, and even a res- ident peacock, our teachers encourage us to eat with the same focus we bring to our seated meditation practice. “Put your fork down between each bite and don’t let your- self get distracted so you eat just until you are full,” says Asha, another of our teachers. “Trust your body to cue your brain when you have had enough.” Despite the gentleness and simplicity of the instructions, I’m tentative about my ability to follow it. Will I be able to feel my body’s fullness once I have eaten enough? Am I capable of eat- ing what my body wants, desires, and needs without judgment? Eat! Eat! Forcedtoovereatasachild, SHARON SUH finally learns for herself what is enough. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 61