Last month, I attended another Goenka Vipassana retreat. In attempt to capture some of the insights I thought I’d write another entry.
First, I started to notice a different seriousness in my approach, but in an effortless way. Rather than force it, there was a different level of effort manifesting during the sitting process without my conscious will to force it. I found that to be really amazing – almost like witnessing the early growing of a plant, something natural, without force. The word meditation is a bit limiting in this aspect, as there are a million ways to ‘meditate.’ In my case, I have had a tough time to stay with practice in my mind, even though my eyes are closed and I ‘look the part.’ On this occasion, there was more inner strength to stick with it, not just casting a nice statue LOL.
Second, questions on the specifics of the practice became much more pronounced. The earlier directions of ‘focusing on breath’ or ‘shifting attention across bodily sensations’ became too imprecise, and I started asking more specific questions. In effect, I started to understand my mind’s tendency to cheat/take shortcuts/stick to old habit patterns and it became clear that sitting in silence and simply repeating old patterns isn’t really any different from the same happening in day-to-day life.
Third, simplicity and service has taken on new meaning for me. Both are more and more tools to shift the gross level mind pattern more and more towards seeing reality. Without simplicity, the minds subconscious pattern of being lost in acquiring/managing possessions and security is not addressed. Without unconditional service, the minds pattern of reconnecting everything to an ‘I’ is not addressed. It is possible to practice simplicity and service without the intention of addressing these patterns. It just so happens that holding this root intention seems to lead to simplicity, service, and over time the regeneration of holistic wealth for all.
On the final full day, where lovingkindness meditation is introduced, I have historically had quite emotionally powerful experiences. This occasion was no different, although perhaps more intense as gratitude wells up more and more in life. I have done nothing consciously to deserve being exposed to a path that has created so much joy from within and the ending of so much suffering – even at my ridiculously early stage of practice. While this continues to be a challenging practice, and one I do not necessarily cling to as ‘the path,’ the value I’ve seen has been so amazing and powerful that I’m drawn to tears with regularity – and I’m grateful for the emotional fluidity to experience that!