Continuing from previous post of 5/24/09:
4. It’s not “getting away from it all? Why not?
Where ever you go your mind goes with you. That means much of our troubles do indeed follow us, even with no communication with the outside world. So no, your mean boss/parent/mother-in-law/difficult teenager, bankruptcy whatever- is not there but the conflict continues on in your mind. And what often seems worse is that with no distractions, it all becomes more vivid!
So why go on a retreat? What do you get? Oh and “You’ve done one, why would you go again?”
Well everything becomes more vivid, and that my friend is the point in huge part; to see the mind and how we perceive/think/react-all our mental/emotional processes and reality with absolute clarity…
What can happen over time in a long retreat may be something like this:
• Physical pain comes up, knee pain, back pain, shoulder aches, that perhaps you never noticed before. You start to worry, panic even, “this will never go away, I won’t be able to meditate how awful.” “This meditation is causing my pain…”
• We get calmer…pain may subside, often suddenly just lifts or becomes less strong.
• Mental/Emotional pain comes up. Memories of past hurts, incidents.
• Deeper awareness of what the mind does develops. And it can be a shocker! Things like constant planning, worrying, looking back to memories/replaying them. As we sit calmly with whatever comes up…we start to develop insight into our minds, neurosis, blocks and weaknesses.
• Since the major instruction is to be present, aware each moment, the above patterns are very annoying. We try hard to not get lost in the “stories, worries, planning” in our heads, it feels like a battle.
• Mind starts to calm down because of the training, quiet, the slow deliberate way we are moving and no outside distractions to engage it.
• Perhaps the insights about our life and life in general start to really become apparent and tolerable, even OK
• Maybe even calmer, mental clarity, deep peace….
• We may have some experiences that are kind of cool, whoa, different than our everyday awareness… Now we like this meditation thing how great….
• And the cycle may begin again from start or anywhere on the list and then continue to develop. Each retreat is different, as you are different…new issues come up, new awareness.
So at the end of a retreat typically:
• Going back into the world is a shock, honestly. The worse thing to do directly after even a weeklong retreat, is to go into a supermarket! You will be overwhelmed….the colors, the sounds, the quick pace….”why are there sooo many cereals, this is crazy! I just wanted a bottle of water.” And it will feel unpleasant.
• You might feel a bit disoriented, as the pace/complexity of your usual life becomes more apparent in contrast to the retreat environment.
• Deep sense of calm, clarity about your life
• Better ability to deal calmly and intelligently with disruptions and difficulty in general and with relationships
• Heightened intuition
• Often health and energy levels are improved
So that’s what I’ve found either in my personal experience/teachers experiences and those around me. And going repeatedly deepens the benefits, you do not have to be a Buddhist to go on one of these. And since Buddhism is in large part about our reliance on concepts rather than actually reality, it is difficult and could be misleading to try to explain further. I may take up some individual points and blog on them more, it might be helpful for some.
MAY MY PRACTICE BE FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BEINGS