I am such a good meditator! Look how easy it is to sit for hours on end and be such a good example to all the new meditators sitting behind me.
Says my ego.
3 days into my second vipassana meditation I am tooting my own horn. Of course I am speaking only to myself, in my head, as we are in noble silence. My daily practice has paid off and I am sliding back into the routine with great ease and pleasure. I even get to practice my language skills while here in the French country side. Of course, my ego is here to be worked on, and after this little vacation comes the heavy blows.
I know from the last experience that the second half of the week is where the real work begins. On day five I feel slightly sick. Many people are coughing and sniffiling as the weather is cold and rainy or snowy. I am losing energy and a bit afraid of coming down with something being trapped in here with all these people. I never get physically sick, but I feel the energy of the room is totally in Blah mode. The next day I speak up and get my temperature checked. Ive decided if I have a temperature, all the achy sensations in my body are because I am fighting off some infection and will take the proper steps to manage that, or its simply ive gone deep into myself and something nasty is coming out. Explaining in pantomime and my simple French I finally get a thermometer and skip the drugs they want to give me for free. I am perfectly the right temperature; Shit. Ok mind, this is for real, we are going to war. As Rumi would say:
“Are you dazed from too much meat and wine? Or are you a soldier on the field of battle?”
Time to own up and stop prattling away excuses that I am sick or the energy in the room is low. This sensation is inside me, laying in wait in the dark, obscured behind pain and confusion. No amount of mind chatter is going to solve this for me. I have to buckle down and face the reality of this sensation that has arisen.
By the end of day six I want to die. No energy, depressed, and no hope, I curl up into a ball and have a good cry. The discourse as always saves me and gives me the courage to go on the next day. On day seven I hit the wall. I have reached a place in me that I do not know. This scares me so completly I run in the other direction, but I cannot escape. A ball of energy the size of a grapefruit sits right on the bridge of my nose and temple. No matter what I do, think, rationalize, or try to energetically heal with every trick in my bag I cannot do a thing about this. It is simultaniously intriguing and confusing. Intriguing I can handle, confusing makes me crazy. I spend countless hours of my meditation trying to figure out what it is and in the end I can only say one thing; I dont know what this is. To steal a line from Osho,
“If you are confused, be confused, at least that will be the first clear cut thing about you.”
So I resolve to be confused, to let go of the need to know, figure out, solve, and fix this crazy new thing happening to me and stealing my attention from meditating. Of course, that was probably the purpose of my mind the whole time. To distract me from meditating and doing the real work of healing and moving forward. I am so exhaused at the end of the day and drained from the mental circles I ran around my mind that I just pray the next day will be better and less scary.
Day eight I relax and back off from trying to figure out this place of confusion and focus again on meditation. A slight repreve as it is a hard day, but doing better. Day 9 I get a little gift of being totally in my morning meditation and feeling quite buzzed throughout my body. Yes! I made it through and today is going to be great and blissful like last time. Wrong. The fear and the energy come back in full force stealing my attention again, but I manage to face it and go deeper, no further than day 7, which leaves me feeling a bit of a failure at the end, but at least I found something in me that was new. A place that was dark and sad. A place where I could honestly say I dont know who I am. For that alone, all the trouble was worth it.
Despite the personal struggle I faced, I was really blown away during this course with an abundance of thoughts about appreciating the people in my life. I am always wanting to give more compliments and do special things for people, but in the moment it never occurs to me; only afterwards or in periods of meditation where I cant do a thing about it. For some reason the Christmas season came up a lot in my feelings. The desire to be in that place of warmth and let go with family and friends really kindled the fire in me to find a way to appreciate my loved ones on a daily basis. It is important to understand that when we are unaware and unmindful every moment slips past us uncounted. When there is some occasion to be more mindful, such as holidays, we are provided an opportunity to be present and really enjoy the richness of life. When you are really present and aware the memories you make fill you with happiness and can be recalled later. Therefor resolve to share wonderful company, to put loving and creative effort into your dress and foods, and to cultivate the awe and joy of remembering that you belong to something greater than yourself. All the memories that surfaced were not moments of something planned or daily tasks, but the simple moments of consciousness when you felt something special, that magic that is really the touch of existence. Of course, this sensation is available every moment and that is the work of meditation to bring it forward to the surface.
I struggled a bit with the idea and performance of being a meditator. I have spent the last two years going inside myself, while also retreating from the world. I was trying to follow the ultimate truths shared by many enlightened persons. I am having to face the fact that I probably missed something important. Vipassana and all meditations are meant to be techniques to be used in the world; in your daily life. As a friend reminded me, in the ultimate truth we are existence itself, but until you reach that point, face the reality in front of you; that you experience it as a seperate being. It does no good to hide away in a cave and practice meditation only to find out as soon as you get back to the commotion of life that your silence and inner peace was false. Meditating by yourself (in caves too) has its purposes for deepening into yourself, but ultimately learning to meditate in the middle of the marketplace is the true test of progress. When all of lifes struggles spring up before you, and still you remain aware and equanimous, then you have found inner peace. I struggled with the idea of needing to become a monk to find the buddha and remembering to actually be in existence and celebrate it. Thankfully I am headed to Osho’s Resort in Pune India next, and although I have no idea what to expect, I do know that Osho is all about celebrating life and bringing meditation to every moment of your life. Often through dance and more dynamic active meditations he brings people to their senses and at least livens up the place.
I am on the path and have learned more about myself. May your journey be blessed and may all being be liberated.