Posted by Bradley Stoll on Jul 25, 2020
I haven't sat that long since in a span of three days since I did my one and only 10-day a few years back. Hearing Goenka-ji's voice (sometimes tech is good:)) brought it all back home. The mind did what it normally does, as it often wandered into the future or back to the past. But with nothing really there, I just tried to bring it back home. Perhaps what I remember the most was a dream that I had as I rested during the afternoon of Day 1. As I slept, I saw Nipun and John. Someone was trying to awaken me, but I could not open my eyes. It was like they were glued shut. But I wanted to open them and was struggling with all my might. Then, I awoke from my actual nap. I immediately thought, "Is that how my life really is? I walk around awake, but my eyes are not open to the present?" People are saying to me, "open your eyes, Bradley!" And I just keep "bumping" into things. Over and over. I thought to myself, "When will my eyes open and remain open?"
One of the books to which I was referring is Being Peace. A few nuggets that stood out to me: Please Call Me By My True Names, a poem written by Thich Nhat Hanh. Am I able to see everyone as myself and myself as everyone else? And then there was this: "Don't just do something, sit there!" Finally, the 14 precepts of the Tiep Hien Order, or Order of Interbeing.
On day 2 it started to dawn on me how I eat way too much:(. The amount of food that I had brought to live on for three days was less than what I would eat in a single day back at "home." And yet, I was feeling strong and healthy. Well, aside from not sleeping well at night. Although, strangely enough I wasn't tired. As Krishnamurti, in Think on These Things, might say, maybe my problem was that I had a "goal" of getting to sleep. So many speak of letting go...avoid cravings and aversions. And then there was this, "Freedom is not wanting to be somebody." This reminded me of one of my favorite poems, I'm Nobody! Who are you?, by Emily Dickinson. What K had to say about happiness, really made me think. "Happiness comes uninvited. Being self-consciously happy, or pursuing happiness, is the very ending of happiness." If so, then real happiness is known only on a subconscious level, then. When I see someone who appears "happy" I will be sure to not say or do anything that would make them aware of this:).
For some reason, on this day, I decided to write down what I value the most. For some reason, I have not done this before. Sure, I've thought about it, but I've never actually written it down. I wanted to limit it, though. And I even came up with an acronym for me to easily remember...not that I should need that! RICK: Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Kindness. Those are the four qualities that I am choosing to lead with. At least that's my intention.
On day 3 it dawns on me that the end of my "retreat" is drawing near. After my morning sit in silence, I open my eyes and then I notice that I have tears running down my cheeks. Oddly, it was on day 3 of my 10-day retreat that this exact thing happens. There was no sadness to speak of. It wasn't joy. I saw it as a cleansing, or the beginning, anyway.
This is also when I decide to try some guided meditations...yeah to tech, again:). One that I tried did not sit well with me. Primarily, because I viewed it as a meditation to help me achieve something. It asked me to picture a goal that I have. And then I pondered, "I don't believe I have any goals." At least none of which I could think. The next morning I would discover my fondness for a morning guided meditation, though. I think this is because they generally set me up for a beautiful day. Their message was gratitude and how can one go wrong with that.
Before I left for the retreat, I put an automated reply on my email. In the reply I wrote, "I am learning to accept what is." I wrote this a few days before I left and then forgot about the entirety of the message. The last thing I journaled was from K: "The ideal, the what SHOULD be, is an escape from the what IS." Maybe my eyes were opening.
I have so much gratitude and love for all those that made these few days possible. Especially my host<3. Even though I was "alone" for the three days, I could feel her presence during my sits. She was like the wind...unseen, yet felt:).
Love and Gratitude to All<3!