Tuesday, April 17, 2012

10 long days

I just got back from a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course. It is the most intense meditation course offered in the world.

No talking
No reading
No writing
No singing
No dancing
No eye contact with anyone
No physical contact with anyone
No medications or intoxicants
No dinner
No caffeine

Each day consists of 10+ hours of meditation, two meals, and about an hour long discourse given by the teacher.

You can imagine that after this kind of isolation, you come up with some interesting insights.

Here's what I have to share:

1. Pain is not an obstacle. It is an ally. We are obsessed with removing any pain as soon as it crops up in the body or mind. So much so, that we numb ourselves and continually suppress pain. Because of this, we begin to create our own diseases, both mental and physical. When we let go and allow pain to surface, we realize that it becomes a powerful ally and teacher.

As soon as we invite pain into our lives, willingly and equanimously, it loses it's power. We have confused suffering with pain. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. We suffer when we are identified with our minds and therefore unable to observe the pain objectively. At some point within deep meditation, there is a realization that the pain is actually enjoyable. The mind's reaction to pain, untamed, increases the intensity of it 10-fold which causes deep misery and suffering. This reminds me of this quote:

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become." - Buddha

2. All misery comes from resistance to the present moment. At the course, we are taught that unhappiness comes from 3 things:

1. craving - wanting for something other than what is in front of us
2. aversion - not wanting something that is in front of us
3. ignorance - not understanding either of the above two

The present moment is all there is. It is where life is beautifully unfolding in the most sacred and perfect way. But we forget because our mind's are constantly in a state of wanting to change and manipulate what just naturally is. Our teacher says because of this, we have forgotten "the art of living" which is moving in a dance-like flow with life, just as it is, not as we want it to be. How can we ever be free and happy if we are always wanting for something that is not there? The trick is to let life live you, or though you. There is a framework, but we have choice within that framework.

3. One of the main reasons we judge others is because we are afraid to be ourselves. Many of us have very deep seated issues revolving around not feeling acceptable just as we are. This is one of the primary reasons why so many people have control issues and addictions to substances. We try to constrict and numb ourselves. The byproduct of this action causes us to feel sensitive, hyperaware, moody, miserable, etc. These become emotional thought patterns that get habitually lodged within our bodies. Because of that turmoil within, there is a natural need to project this turmoil onto others and waste time talking shit, or spreading unkind words.

4. We are delicately fragile and immensely strong, simultaneously. And the deeper we go within ourselves, the more we understand that the delicate, fragile part is where our profound strength is actually born. We hold so much power inside. It is inexplicable and almost terrifying to feel.

5. Surrender & humility may be the two most important qualities to cultivate within oneself. That is, if we truly seek freedom, liberation, or salvation. We have to surrender to this moment, from a place of humility. Humility means we are in a state of awareness where we are one with all things. Here,   compassion and love are the highest forms of communication with the self and others. Those that live this way have no need to impress or overpower others. Because they realize that in doing so, they would actually be projecting their own inner insecurities outward.

6. We have to do the things that make us come alive. And do them today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next year. This life is so precious and we are always missing it because we are constantly in a state of resistance.

7. I am not even close to being a master of any of those 6 insights. But I will continue to fight out my own internal battles, with the goal of cultivating and sharing the inner strengths of my sensitive heart. Even when it's really difficult I will keep trying because I believe we can evolve and I believe the time for that collective evolution is now.

8. May all beings be happy :)

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