I had the very good fortune of meeting Lama Willa in 2013 when she offered a day long teaching at the Interfaith wisdom school I was attending in Portland Maine. Like a bee drawn to the fragrance of a beautiful flower, I have remained involved in Natural Dharma Fellowship ever since. I began the Margha program in 2014. Initially I will admit that I found the Bodhicitta sessions a little overwhelming. The following year of Natural meditation was quite challenging with all the focus on resting in the nature of mind! I was more comfortable looking out, not in. But I persevered, and in the process, unpacked some not so helpful assumptions and habits long in the making. By the time I came back around to the Bodhicitta year of study, I had also attended the related week-long silent retreats.
For the first time after many years of searching, I began to feel like I was developing a strong foundation to my practice. With the gentle and consistent exposure to the teachings, I found myself opening more and more to the rich and subtle wisdom contained within them. I worked on integrating them into my life, but they also did their work on me. I gained confidence in my ability to practice, in my understanding of taking refuge and in devotion. Such is the benefit of having a skilled teacher and a beautifully designed training with the built-in support of sangha. Knowing that there are countless beings who have devoted their lives to this path gives me the courage to keep at it. Having present day teachers who provide guidance and inspiration has been priceless.
I began my role as mitra in 2017 and continued until I moved back to Canada in early 2019. In a world where I have been conditioned to move through accomplishments and check them off looking for the next fix, this has been a wonderful opportunity to slow down and revisit the teachings again and again. Each time I do, there is a certain familiarity, but also a newness as if approaching them for the first time. I feel very grateful to have found the Margha program.