Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Patiently & Persistently

Listen: You first-time sitters are doing incredibly well. I heard Tim tell someone he didn't sit regularly until after his TENTH 10-day. I may finally succeed at it after this, my sixth (not comparing myself to Tim). Acknowledge your Self for successfully sitting twice a day for half an hour. Notice the clamor of your mind and lovingly, patiently, persistently and EQUANIMOUSLY bring your Self back to either the sensation associated with your breath or the sensations on/in your body.

More than one person mentioned how well I "sat" for 10-days. Believe me, from my perspective, there were DAYS that were mostly hell. I'd go up to chat briefly with Tim and he'd reassure me that I was doing much better than my previous sit that he was also the A.T. for. He'd ask if I was being equanimous. If so, he said I was doing fine.

Just continue to sit. If you miss one or both in a day, start again... start again. After a few days of not sitting, you probably won't go back if and until you do another 10-day. As a person who has made a lifelong occupation of making my Self and those around me miserable, don't miss this chance to bypass decades of misery.

By the way, I had difficulty in figuring out how to post my second post yesterday. Now, there is a "new post" thingie in the upper-righthand corner. I had to find the old email that was sent to me inviting me to the blog and sign in from there.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Setbacks and drive

Alas, I have not been the best vipassana meditator. As is my pattern in life, attempting to put forth a rigorous structure instantly brings forth all manner of challenges to tamper with and disable that structure. The old habit patterns of the mind are strong indeed, reaching beyond what is within my control to influence the external reality. Changing this into a more positive ritual is a great work, as I believe it will have repercussions beyond my waking world.

(you make a paragraph by hitting enter twice)

I've still managed to sit every day for at least 30 minutes, but I feel the determination slipping away, driven by the distractions of material life, work, bills, chores, social obligations. And then there's the incessant chattering of my own mind, now that's it had a break, it returns with a cacophonous din that is difficult to quiet. But I'm making excuses for my lack of effort, these are the merely the issues at hand which interfere with my practice.

be well all,


Anyone there? I'm 16 for 16, now. Two or 3 of the morning sits have been 15 minutes short. Equanimity is a continuing challenge, as always. It's difficult to be equanimous when Tiger is letting you down on Sunday during the U.S. Open (seriously). I've also just begun a new regimen of medication that has me a bit on edge. I hope that all are doing well! METTA!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Four Days Home...

It's 10:28 Thursday morning. I sat this morning when I arose just as I have every morning and evening since returning. I'm 8 for 8! One sit was shortened by 20 minutes. This is better than I've done after any of my 5 previous sits. So far, I am sleeping one hour less, so it's just costing me an hour. Given that I have few practical responsibilities in my life at present, the time is not an issue. I've been sitting on a chair so far so as to make my meditation about establishing the habit rather than "doing it right". My wife is quite supportive of my sitting. She putters around the house getting ready to leave for work as quietly as she can. She is planning to sit a course in the next few months. Well, that's it for now. I can't figure out how to start a different paragraph! I've tried for 10 minutes. Hitting the "enter" key doesn't do it. Anyone know?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sit on it.

Hello strangers!

I don't know about you, but I wish Goenka was my grandfather just so I could give him a hug. When last night I had a glass of red wine, a part of me curled up in shame (what if Goenka can see me?) and the other part curled up in delicious subtle comfort. We can each and every one of us decide how to incorporate his teachings into our lives, what coriander seeds we want to pull out of our pudding to make it more palatable for now until we're ready to eat it just the way mama makes. As long as we're at least sticking our spoons in for a taste, we won't lose sight of our intention to continue practicing in whatever capacity we can. Finding time for meditation shouldn't come as a source of stress in our lives, but rather an opportunity for relief. If we take the time to sit (for an hour, or for however long), we're steeping ourselves in the ever-changing present, direct from the source, and using our time in the most productive way possible. But my job! you say. My obligations! My money that I earned! It will all come so much easier if you have the peace of mind and equanimity afforded by Vipassana. You guys, we're so lucky to have found this! The secret!

Keep it.

On Habits and Rituals

It's much easier to do things then to not do them. Ask anyone who has tried to give up smoking, and you'll find that unless there is an effective replacement stress displacement activity, willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the constant craving. Clearly, to stop doing something requires much more strength and energy then to start.

Which is why a Vipassana retreat works so well for so many. Removing the old habit structures of the mind and body returns us to the all important present, where infinite possibility can arise and pass away. When we finish, the opportunities to return to our old habits are reinforced by not only our mind, but our environment, our relationships and our workspace. Now is a critical time to continue the work because there remains mental space to make changes.

Habits and Rituals are the same mechanism, a part of life which we engage in without thinking consciously. Habits, I would define as negative patterns, detracting from your core value and purpose, while rituals are positive, inline with your values and supporting your deepest goals. Regardless of the work I have to do, I check my email after starting the computer, a habit of mine which leads to countless distractions, lost time and energy. Sitting for an hour in the morning (haven't gotten to the evening yet) is a ritual I've been successful at implementing for the past two days. It adds to my energy, focus and concentration. I had a very trying Monday, and if sitting gave me the space to stop a single freak-out spiral before it happened, it is worth it.

One of my biggest hurdles while meditating is thinking of the other things I could be doing. When you consider the benefits that practicing Vipassana can bring to my interactions with work, friends, family and contribute to overall happiness, is there anything more valuable I could be doing with my time?

May All Be Happy

Monday, June 14, 2010

Remind me.

i feel like i worked too hard for the 10 days that i need a vacation from it for a few days. also the travel back took me about 34 hours so my body is failing on me.
10 days in seclusion from everything society holds for us.
10 days where we were fortunate to have time completely for ourselves.
but now how do we continue with this.
i know for sure my schedules are busy, at every point of the day there is a rush to complete some task. we find ourselves overwhelmed by things left to achieve. goals to fulfill. every single minute of the day is valuable to move on with living, so tell me again.... remind me again all those lovely people who i surrounded 10 days of my life with.... why is this important?


Under the inspiring guidance of venerable S. N. Goenka and his supportive assistant Tim Lanning, we now all graduated from an extremely intense but profoundly inspiring Vipassana meditation retreat at the lovely Dhamma Pakasa Illinois Vipassana Meditation Center. Having worked very hard for ten days, keeping nobel silence throughout and meditating almost eleven hours each day with only short breaks in between, each of us arrived at an unusually blissful state of mind. But how to carry this precious jewel back into our daily lives and nurture it to guarantee it's survival? As S. N. Goenka would put it it; we now all have to shield this frail, young sprout, which has started its growth in this wonderfully nurturing environment, from being eaten by ignorant grazing cattle.