I emailed this reflection to friends n fam after a retreat I went to Jan 4-15th, 2012.
So I’m finally back from that meditation retreat I’ve told some of you about (www.torana.dhamma.org/). For 10.5 days, I was not to read, write, and verbally or physically communicate with anyone. My days comprised of eating, sleeping, resting and 10hrs of meditation a day.
What exactly is Vipassana? It is seeing things AS THEY REALLY ARE. How is that done and how is this different from other styles of meditation? Well, Vipassana is unique in that it requires one observe bodily SENSATIONS with the understanding of IMPERMANENCE – knowing that ALL THAT ARISES WILL PASS.
With that wisdom, one practices EQUINIMITY – non-reaction to whatever arises. Anything that arises, whether it is pleasurable or painful, one is to refrain from reacting with any AVERSIONS or CRAVINGS…for it is these REACTIONS and our HOLDING ON to them which are the cause of our own misery.
Okay okay so nothing new. We’ve heard this before. CHANGE is CONSTANT. But, it is one thing to intellectualize about this truth and another thing to actually EXPERIENCE THIS TRUTH. When you are sitting for 1-1.5 hrs with the strong determination to not move, not scratch any itch, or adjust posture to relieve any pain…you then come to feel for yourself that: “yes…every sensation that arises DOES EVENTUALLY PASS! So I don’t have to react with aversion every time I feel something I don’t like and I don’t have to react with craving every time I feel something that I do like.”
So as in life, imagine all of the changes that inevitably occur and yet, we are constantly reacting with aversion and craving. “Oh no its winter. Yes its summer! Oh no its winter. Yes its summer!” LOL we are unknowingly causing our own stress and misery!
I’m not saying we should live an emotionless life. What I am saying, is that we can live a MORE BALANCED LIFE when we REACT a little less and understand the universal truth that whatever this moment brings me (whether good or bad) shall also COME 2 PASS.
Before the retreat, I thought my biggest challenge would be aversions from back/foot pain and cravings for pizza (especially considering dinner consisted of just fruit and tea). To my own shock, my greatest urge and craving ended up being my NEED to understand things, get clarity and write down every insightful thought that came to mind. But with no writing allowed, I had to learn to LET MY THOUGHTS GO. Whether it was a positive thought or a negative thought…I had to LET IT GO.
While positive thoughts are great, if I can’t focus on my bodily sensations for even just 10 minutes because I have all of these wonderful thoughts running through my head, then imagine how these thoughts are taking me away from fully experiencing moments throughout the day!
At first, I was using verbal cues to get myself to let go of thoughts: “Stop thinking! Refocus! Get out of your head!” Then my teacher reminded me: “We are already such thinking people. So you want to use something natural like the breathe.” And with that advice…I learned how to let go of every arising thought with a simple INHALE or EXHALE.
Practising this was not easy – quite frustrating in fact.
Oh the mind…how brilliant: creating, imagining, solving, understanding and idea generating.
But oh the mind – just madness: worrying, analyzing, comparing, judging, and scrutinizing.
The teacher Goenka says: “The Wandering Mind is a Harmful Mind. The Tamed Mind is a Helpful Mind.” I’m sure many of you can relate.
But with patience and practice, OH THE LIBERATION I finally feel. For the first time in my life, I now know how to consistently let go of my thoughts. This I believe is the difference between learning to MASTER YOUR MIND vs being slave to your mind.
Whether its achieving a weight loss goal or a career goal, the achievement of any goal requires one to first be aware of ones thoughts, and second, to focus on certain thoughts while letting go of other thoughts. With meditation, one can learn this important skill of having a FOCUSED MIND. I myself plan to use this skill not just to achieve my goals (ie, to recover) but to simply LIVE LIFE REAL.
REALITY BITES. TRUTH HURTS.
But life is TOO SHORT (with tomorrow not being promised) for one to not GET REAL with who one is. Ten days of being alone with yourself forces you to look in the mirror. Many can’t bear to do this because it means acknowledging the FULLNESS OF ONES FLAWS. Oh how many I myself have! So many thoughts of resent, irritation, and insecurity that I didn’t realize I was still HOLDING ON to.
Furthermore, I see clearly now how throughout my teens and 20s I HELD ON tight to this IMAGE I had created of JAISA…this IDEA of THE JAISA that I wanted others to have of me.
But the truth is….I AM FULLY FLAWED. And how liberating it is to not just accept that but to EMBRACE that. This liberation comes with the LETTING GO of all the thoughts I’ve been HOLDING ON to…and allowing myself to be CONTENT IN WHATEVER THE MOMENT BRINGS. If I’m weak I’m content being weak. If I’m vulnerable I’m content being vulnerable. After all, these moments -like all things – are sure to pass.
I am a firm believer now that when you LEARN TO LET GO you are able to let yourself and your life just GO WITH THE FLOW…
…and FLOWING WITH IT is awesome. The more I have learned to become in tune with who I really am and am TRUE TO MYSELF, instead of FALLING APART, my life has begun to FALL INTO place. Random connections and opportunities no longer seem so random.
Letting go is not easy when we live in a society that promotes craving and aversion: Where its the norm to crave beauty, possessions, fame, power and status. Where its the norm to have aversions to wrinkles, aging, illness, and death.
But know that WE ARE ALL WISE and INSIGHTFUL PEOPLE who know exactly what will makes us happy. The problem, is that we live such busy lives full of distractions – distractions from the TRUTHS that we each already know deep inside.
So do take a moment each day to:
STOP, THINK LESS, FEEL MORE AND JUST BREATHE!
So why do I bother to write and share with friends and family? Well it became clear to me on the tenth and last day of meditation.
All week, I was consumed with thoughts of: “MY blog, MY book, MY story, MY journey.”
Then upon hearing Goenka say: “Pure Love is Free of Passion. Full of Compassion.” I understood. Yes…PURE LOVE is FREE of MY PASSIONS (my desires, my wants). PURE LOVE is COMmunity PASSION.
FREE OF MY PASSION.
FULL OF COMPASSION.
Then THE TRUTH HIT ME LIKE A TRUCK:
“ITS NOT ABOUT ME!”
Walking out of that meditation hall, my mind was as clear as the blue sky that had come to be.
The I’s ME’s MY’s & MINE’s are a cause of much stress in my life. So its not about “MY self and MY story” Its not “What about ME? Or What do they think about ME?”
ITS REALLY NOT ABOUT ME – ITS ABOUT THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS
So when you strive to:
ACCEPT YOURSELF &
…and when you work to have PEACE, LOVE and HAPPINESS for yourself…
…remember that the REAL PURPOSE of gaining all of these merits is so you can SHARE IT WITH OTHERS : )