Sooner or later, we all seem to get to a point at which we ask ourselves how do we live a fulfilling life. And yet, so often years go by without our allowing ourselves the time to stop and contemplate what Sessei Meg Levie calls “a deep heart longing to live in a way that feels true and meaningful.”
This is the subject of Sessei Meg Levie’s upcoming True Person Retreat: Discovering the Life You’re Meant to Live. In this interview Meg shares some insights into the process and beauty of finding your own unique path.
Inspiration is such an elusive quality. Could you explain a little bit about how you see individuals finding the inspiration to live a more authentic life?
In my experience, people have a deep heart longing to live in a way that feels true and meaningful. What can be hard is finding the space to step back and listen to the inner voice that already knows the way.
How does Zen practice, and in particular wisdom, play a role in this process of discovering the life you are meant to live?
“The life you are meant to live”—what does that mean? I invite participants to take on this question as a koan, an ongoing inquiry. A life can take many different forms depending on conditions, and all can be authentic expressions of a person’s heartfelt commitments and aspirations. The invitation is to come back to a deeper sense of who we are, beyond accomplishment or approval.
By settling down and looking within, we realize that who we are truly is never separate from all that is. From the freedom and support of that wisdom base, we then can get up and do creative things in the world. We can listen to what makes our heart sing, and we can hear and respond to the songs of others.
Why do you choose to teach on this topic?
Each individual has so much to offer. This retreat provides a space to explore and play, to settle and listen deeply. So many people feel distracted and overwhelmed in their day-to-day life. Simply being at Tassajara, deep in the mountains and steeped in the spirit of practice, offers a clear space that many people yearn for. I love watching people feel more alive, awake, and connected to what truly matters to them.
You are a life coach and a Zen priest. How do these two roles complement one another, and are there ways that they challenge one another and create the need for you to synthesize disparate qualities?
Zen practice provides a very strong base for coaching, but there are differences. In my position as a Zen priest, I may be seen in light of the archetypes of teacher or monk, which can be powerful roles in the mind of the student and require particular care. As a coach, I see the relationship as more of a partnership and my role as that of a guide and encourager. Teaching the True Person retreat at Tassajara provides the opportunity to work with both roles, drawing on the richness of Zen practice while offering the creative tools of coaching.
This will be the third year this retreat has been offered. Seeing how each group comes together has been a wonderful experience so far, and I look forward to meeting each unique person this year and seeing what we can discover together.
Sessei Meg Levie will lead True Person Retreat: Discovering the Life You’re Meant to Live from Friday, August 8, through Monday, August 11, at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The retreat is open to all—beginner’s mind welcome.
(Interview by Sachico Ohanks, SFZC Communications Coordinator. Photos by David Silva.)