As long as I'm just kind of hanging out and knocking around the Internet right now, it seems like a good time to finally do a post about the retreat. I'm going to start with a quick entry about a couple of things I learned. While these things may not be incredibly significant to you, they do mean something to me.
- I learned how to sit
- I learned that I have lived most of my life in my mind
Learning how to sit: Obviously, I already knew how to place my rear end on some surface. What was new for me was to see just how comfortable it was to sit with good posture. I've had pretty horrible posture my whole life. So, the thought of sitting still with a straight back seemed like it would be really challenging. To my surprise, I found out that it is actually much more comfortable to sit that way. Granted, I haven't developed my muscles sufficiently to allow me to sit unsupported for long periods of time. But, I am hopeful that over time this will change and good posture will just become natural for me.
Learning that I've lived most of my life in my mind: I've always been an intellectual type of person; never mind my childish sense of humor. Engaging in thought experiments is great fun. Pondering how to solve some of the world's most pressing problems seems like a great use of time. Any type of mathematical or logic puzzle (verbal or numeric) is totally engaging. So, it was quite a shift for me to begin practicing Vipassana meditation. One of the major points of this practice is to experience reality via paying attention to the sensations in your body. In other words, Vipassana meditation is a truly sensual experience. I found that I was almost entirely unable to "feel" anything in my body. Sure, the intense, unpleasant sensations were highly evident. But, the subtle sensations, or even the awareness of the existence of parts of my body were almost entirely absent. Additionally, throughout the retreat I noticed how often I wanted to imagine all that I was going through on the retreat as some type of hero's journey. "Come one, come all and watch Marc participate in the World Championship of Meditators! Be amazed at how still he can sit!" Instead of just being able to accept that I'm just some skinny, old, bald guy sitting on some pillows paying attention to my breath and the sensations in my body, I had a tendency to turn the whole practice into some intellectual game. I suppose that I'm not doing a very good job of conveying my point here. That's part of the whole point, though. One has to *experience* certain things; no amount of words can convey the experience.
I'm so incredibly happy that I made the decision to go on the retreat. I'm not going to get all gushy and say that it was a life-changing experience. I'll just have to live the rest of my life and see whether that's the case. But, I am absolutely certain that it was another valuable step on the spiritual journey I've been taking.
I give thanks to the Universe for the abundance it provides me. I surrender and am open and ready to receive.
Bhavatu sabba mangalam - May all beings be happy