Blue Water Community of Mindful Living
To be mindful means to be aware of what's happening right now, in the present moment, inside and around us. This practice can help us overcome suffering in ourselves and in our families and communities. We gather to encourage each other to practice mindfulness with sitting and walking meditation, group discussions and occasional special days of retreat.
The Bluewater Community of Mindful Living has been meeting regularly in Port Huron, Michigan since 1996. The group was started by Jim Maywar and his wife Nancy after Jim had attended a retreat for American veterans at Omega Institute in New York. Jim was deeply moved by the compassion and understanding of Thich Nhat Hanh (we call him Thay, which means teacher in Vietnamese) and his community and wanted to share the practices he had learned with the local community.
The group had modest beginnings, meeting at Jim's home once a month to explore meditation and Buddhist teachings, especially the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. The first three trainings, Openness, Non-attachment to views and Freedom of thought resonated deeply with the group. We also enjoyed an annual Meal of Gratitude and occasional visits to parks and nature centers for walking meditation.
After several years Jim stepped away from the group and we began to meet twice a month for meditation at the residences of various members. We also started to get together occasionally for pot-luck gatherings and organized Days of Mindfulness, sometimes with invited teachers but most often just with ourselves. We learn from each other.
We also would carpool to visit other Buddhist groups nearby and to meet with Dharma Teacher Jack Lawlor in Lansing for his annual visits there. Visiting the neighbors helped us see the possibilities . A few members, including Dan Smafield and Mary Basrai were able to attend retreats with Thay and returned with a better understanding of the practice. Dan created our first web site. Mary also was able to visit Plum Village, Thay's practice center in France and stayed there for the three months "Rains Retreat."
In order to deepen our practice we began to organize weekend retreats. Our first retreat at Song of the Morning Yoga Retreat Center in northern Michigan consisted of just four participants and an improvised schedule. Two years later we tried again and managed seven hardy souls. The year after that we made an effort to invite people from other groups around the state and mushroomed to twenty-five or so happy campers.
We took an important step in 2006 when we began meeting in a more public space at Studio 1219 in downtown Port Huron. Several more members were able to attend retreats with Thay at Stonehill College and at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York where they formally received the Five Mindfulness Trainings and Dharma names.
In 2011 two carloads of retreatants journeyed down to Magnolia Grove in Mississippi for a retreat with Thay and to support sangha member Sam Ewalt who received the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and was ordained as a lay member of the Community of Mindful Living with the Dharma name of True Fragrant Grove.
In order to make our fall retreat more accessible we found a new, more convenient location at Camp Skyline near Almont in Lapeer County and our Regional Mindfulness Retreat has become well attended. We have taken a hiatus due to covid but are already scheduled for the first weekend of October, 2022. Please save the date.
We now meet every Sunday afternoon at 2:30 PM at Unity--Blue Water, a church at 471 17th St, Port Huron, Michigan 48060. Everyone is welcome.