Recently returned from a 10-day + Satipatthana Sutta combo meditation sit. I signed up for the back-to-back sits, creating a 25-day of my own, because it had become clear that the dullness and agitation of my mind required longer “pressure cooking” than a regular 10-day :) I also realized how weak my samadhi (concentration of mind) was, and thus held the intention to strengthen my practice so that I could maintain the daily sits when I go on the bicycling pilgrimage for the next 2-3 years.
Would like to share some reflections as gratitude and as reinforcing of the learnings.
1. “Every moment, start again.”
I tend to be hard on myself when my mind keeps wandering away. The self-criticism thus becomes the “second arrow” that further stirs the mind. During this sit, the two-word mantra of “Keep Trying” has come to my salvation many times, reminding me to gently bring back the mind, and just keep trying my best -- whatever I’ve got at that moment.
This very moment, and this, and this, is the first moment of the rest of my life. I have some degree of freedom in deciding how to be in this moment. What has passed, has passed. The current moment is the only freedom I have to influence the rest of my life. So, every moment, start again, unburdened by the past.
2. “Don’t get too interested in the thoughts.”
I heard my roommate say this sentence in passing on the final day. It shook me to the core. For all these days (and years), I would find “my thoughts” so interesting and worthy of further exploration and indulging in. I would identify the thoughts as “MY thoughts,” and ride on their tails for minutes on end, before hopping on the train of another random thought. And on and on, in a state of day-dreaming, deepening the undercurrent of misery.
Now, I am starting to try to practice, in each micro-moment, letting go of any thoughts that crop up. As they come up, let them go; as they come up, let them go. Every time that I am able to let go of the seed of an enticing thought, I am undoing a lifelong habit pattern of craving and attachment. Every time I am able to do so, I am one bit freer from the dictatorship of past conditioning.
Afterall, what could be so interesting of those random thoughts that is worth surrendering to it our peace, attentiveness, and final liberation?
3. One hour of practice is more effective than a week of theorizing.
Indeed, the prowess of my cerebral cortex is rather feeble in face of the primal grip of my limbic and reptilian brain :) The practice of meditation deals with the deeper part of our being. And true wisdom lies beyond intellectualizing. So, reminder to self: practice, practice, practice.
Deeply grateful for these lessons, and the people and forces that have gifted me the opportunity to receive them experientially! May the faith and effort of walking on the path strengthen by the day; may the practice generates deeper pools of stillness and service to flow out; may all beings be happy!