I have no idea exactly why, but I have been avoiding writing altogether. I am cruising through life right now, no specific direction, taking it as it comes. So, my writing might be exactly the same for now, some random thoughts and experiences.
Last time I mentioned I was going to do a Solo Meditation Retreat – and I did. It was nothing like what my brain had imagined. I thought I could get there and get ‘right on it’, but truth is that it took me a couple of days to ‘slow down’.
My original plan was to just spend time alone in meditative silence for a few days…but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was not to be utterly alone; Phra Me had asked Phra Saran to be my lead meditator teacher, for it is not recommendable to do a solo retreat without the guidance of a teacher. Pa Ka was also very helpful explaining a lot of questions and doubts. She was an excellent host; she prepared my bedroom upstairs and I she had delicious meals for me everyday.
I was all by myself in the meditation hall….it was up to me when I sat or walked or rested. I discovered it was a bit more challenging since there was no one to ‘blame’ for anything….;)…own schedule, own time…. I had brought a meditation timer with me, but was advised against it. I was to ‘let Mind know’ what my intentions were –what time I wanted to wake up, how long I was going to sit for, walk for, etc– I was skeptic in the beginning but it works like a charm! If we are attentive enough, we know. It got easier and easier to realize when the idea of getting up from sitting meditation arose from desire, tiredness, sleepiness, or it was time.
I realized that naming actions and or anything that had to do with the senses was straightforward yet emotions, feelings, sensations…were challenging for not always was I able to ‘catch’ them as they happened and other times I had a hard time finding a word for undefinable feelings…and for those I just decided to say a short word to let mind know. One day, I was feeling: “I name everything, nice”..and then Pa Ka said something to me about the meal and I responded….she then looked at me and said: “did you name ‘hearing’ when I spoke?”…yikes! I hadn’t…..start again.
Being present in the moment, the here and now, is simple yet tricky. I am so used to describing instead of naming, to focus on what I think instead of what is actually happening. Thinking is useful for many things but it can be a hindrance to be present. Almost like working nearby a screen which is playing your favorite movie, you know is there and keep at work but often you glance and before you know it you are ‘in’ the movie.
During this time I was able to truly understand the term ‘monkey mind’. It is wild how rapidly mind shifts from one thing to another, like a monkey…like a kid who wants to be noticed…and once he is noticed…on to another way to demand attention. It became a rather interesting game, for I had no idea where mind would jump to next. What I realized though, is that if I am not careful to remember to come to ‘center’ –call it breathing or second chakra or rising and falling of the belly– after naming, I can undoubtably become the monkey mind jumping all over the place playing a naming game….and then: “playing, noh” would bring me back to center.
Naming has become for me a great grounding vehicle. When thoughts, feelings, sensations are truly noticed, their imagined power over us vanishes.
What is your grounding vehicle –technique, mechanism, system?