e martë, 3 korrik 2007
Enligthenment.... a journey of a billion miles.... reached one step at a time
Enjoying the here and now… actually being aware of and relishing the present moment would be so much easier if my mind would just behave itself! I mean, why can’t my mind just settle down, focus and be calm? Even if it were for only 30 seconds!
But a calm, serene mind seemed to elude me …. Being constantly interrupted, or might I say, bombarded by my own mind’s unrelenting need (aka desire) to re-hash in vivid detail all the past good and bad experiences as well as all the happy and sad personal encounters I’ve had in my 58 years on the planet. As if this reliving the past were not enough to occupy my thoughts, my mind has had an equally strong need (aka desire) to continuously and meticulously plan out in excruciating detail, every possible aspect of my future… be it personal, professional or financial!
Why is it that obtaining “peace of mind” so complicated? So difficult? So stressful! The present moment is, in reality, all I’ve got. I can’t change the past and tomorrow never arrives. Intellectually I know this and yet my mind wants to live in either the past or the future…. Rarely the present moment!
The ten day silent meditation retreat I was so fortunate to attend, here in Thailand, taught me that …. Learning how to live in the present moment is a lot of very hard work!
The retreat center was located on the island paradise of Kho Pha Ngan which sits in the beautiful blue-green waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The center sat high upon a lush jungle mountain top which is also the home of the Buddhist temple Watt Kow Tham.
The course was taught by Steve and Rosemary Weisman, who over the last 30 years have studied under some of the most respected Theravada monk teachers in all of Thailand. For the last 19 years, they have taught Vipassana, or Insight Meditation with a focus on Compassion through Mental Development. The basis of the Mental Development retreat course was to help the participants understand how their mind works. Then building on this foundation, we were taught how to use Compassion to let go of unwise thoughts and to cultivate wise thinking. Over the ten days, Steve and Rosemary taught the 20 participants a variety of very powerful methods and techniques to help each of us gain “Peace of Mind.”
The daily schedule as follows:
4 a.m. the wake up bell sounded
4:45 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. Sitting meditation
5:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Stretching exercises
6:30 a.m. – 7:05 a.m. Sitting meditation
7:05 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Breakfast
8:15 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Working meditation (sweeping, cleaning toilets, etc.)
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Walking meditation
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Instruction and sitting meditation
10: 30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Walking meditation
11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch and free time
1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Walking meditation
1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Standing meditation
2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Walking meditation
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sitting meditation
4:30 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. Walking meditation
5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. Light dinner
6:15 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. Sitting meditation
6:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Walking meditation
7:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Instruction
8:30 p.m. – Optional continued meditation or go to bed
The retreat was excellent, even though the daily schedule was grueling! In addition to being taught how to focus on our breathing, we learned how to deal mentally with the sensations and aversions that seem to constantly creep into the mind, trying to break one’s concentration. Concentration breakers like…. An itch…. Mosquitoes biting… a pain in the leg …. Desire for the bell to ring announcing that the agonizingly long hour standing meditation was over…. Planning the next part of one’s trip in Thailand once the retreat was over…. And on and on and on and on and on…
This “Compassion through Mental Development” retreat was a fantastic experience for me, for I was able to learn and practice so many “peace of mind” techniques while I was on the island ….. techniques which I will continue to use as a move step-by-step on my billion mile journey toward enlightenment....
ps: couple of additional thoughts and comments on the retreat....
First... the last day of the retreat, this young woman who'd been sitting right next to me in the meditation hall came up to me. She'd also be right next to me during the hour exercise session every morning. She must have been all of 25 years old and really in shape.... anyway.... she says to me.... "You're really in flexible.... for an old guy!" Hmmmmmm thanks for the hmmmmmm compliment!
Second.... the night the meditation trainer introduced the comcept of using "Compassion" in the context of a guided mediation, to let go of unwise thoughts and to cultivate new ones .... upon hearing this message it felt as though the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders. Tears or relief flowed and flowed and flowed. For the first time in a very long time.... I experienced "Peace of Mind."