Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thoughts after another meditation retreat

Example of a meditation hall in the middle of the woods

So last month, after taking a break from work, I went on another meditation retreat.  As I mentioned previously, the last time I went it was pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this time, I’d say something similar but for different reasons :)


This iteration, the mental challenge was much more pronounced compared to the physical one.  One has plenty of time to wrestle with ones own demons over the course of nearly two weeks.  The main one on this occasion seemed to be my fear, and how many of my actions were (on a subtle level) driven by fear.  The most difficult part of this realization was recognizing it was there and yet the recognization not being enough to make it go away.  Seeing how deep the issue is, and how it’s something that will take vigilance on a moment-to-moment basis to change.  I did all I could do – attempt to maintain awareness and equanimity of what was happening as the feelings arose, and inevitably, passed away.


Few other random thoughts:

1) I’m quite amazed that in the world of meditation, these retreats are basically like kindergarten, while for myself and at least a few people I know, the rigor and discipline involved here is near unfathomable lol

2) Important distinction between swimming and ‘swim-ology’ – Swim-ology is studying about swimming in a book but never touching the water.  I spent many years approaching meditation like swim-ology, reading everything there was to read on the subject, but seldom actually sitting.  As I am in the process of switching course a bit, I’m noticing a massive difference between swimming and swim-ology in terms of how my day to day life is impacted :)


I’m still not sold on the concept of doing this in such an intensive manner and would not recommend it to everyone (in fact, every time I finish one, I have no idea if it’ll be my last).  However, I cannot stress enough the value silence and introspection (free from dogma, religion, etc) has had on my life, and would definitely recommend these elements to anyone. 

5 friends after a long period of silence

Monday, January 11, 2010

Enabling voluntary simplicity


Over the last several months, I’ve learned that not keeping a permanent residence is the fastest way to overtly reduce the number of possessions one has :)  It’s been a really helpful way to pare down the sheer number of things I own (which is now down to about a few suitcases), but also to realize that regardless of how little I have physically on me, the number of mental possessions I have remains countless lol.

Part of the reason I’ve been doing this for a while is to try and be a bit less materialistic.  It’s funny how I’ve been pretty much looking to give stuff away for a while now, and whenever people comment on it, my reaction is “oh, its not like i’m a saint or anything, I just hate moving with so much stuff!” lol  So a good excuse. 

That being said, it’s also really hit home that just because one doesn’t have physical possessions doesn’t mean he/she has done anything to actually be less attached to the external world.  My mental possessions form a laundry list that is too long to count! 

So if the goal is to be environmentally friendly, voluntary simplicity is, i’m sure, a good way to start.  However, if the idea is to not be so caught up in one’s life, I get the feeling that the internal battle is way larger than than any number of possessions externally :)