Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Being a Student

It’s been three weeks since I completed a nine day meditation retreat. On the last night someone asked how long we should meditate each day to continue the work we had started during the retreat. The answer came from a teacher who I had come to trust and admire during the course of the retreat. He said that rule of thumb was that in order to avoid the build up of “tensions” between now and the next retreat the figure was two hours a day. It was a silent retreat so we all took that in quietly. Mine was the silence of incomprehension.

Once I got back to family and work I made my first forays into home practice. Although I could not really wrap my mind around two hours I could not bring myself to rule it out either. The teachers at the retreat had been exceptional and it seemed foolhardy to think I knew better. I began with one hour and was happy to find out that I could now sit quietly and fairly comfortably for an hour. The training I had received was fresh on my mind and I found myself able to pick up where we had left off. The hour meditation period combined well with an hour Asana practice. I just needed to go to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier for it not to interfere with the “rest of my life”. As the days turned into weeks I began to find opportunities for a second meditation period. By eliminating periods of emptiness in online or in front of the TV., I found that I had just enough time to meditate for an hour every day and meditate for two hours every other day.

This organizing/experimenting period went on for a couple of weeks and I am now in a pretty proactive routine. Having dealt with the logistics of my new life I began to feel it’s effects. There was the matter of the “tensions” at the time I really had no idea what my teacher was talking about. As my practice has settled into my life I began to observe the compulsivity with which I and everybody around me seeks to get the world to satisfy their demands. This compulsivity is a tension within us born from a disconnection from our true nature. What we have come to call normal is a profound alienation from the day to day moment to moment experience of our true nature. It is as though we have a vibrant sun within us that we no longer can feel because our mind is in perpetual agitation. Meditation and asana quiet the mind and train us to bring our attention inward. Initially we just get glimpses of the sun which we experience as peace and well being. Committed practice has the ability to invert “normal” perception so that we come to experience ourselves from the inside out rather than the outside in. We begin to be able to abide calmly in this profound sense of who we are. As we experience the difficulties of life, the wanting, the not wanting the self-centeredness, we are less likely to get lost in them because we have been slowly releasing our resistance to life as we have been getting to know who we are.

As I embark on my fourth week I have noticed an enthusiasm for life building within me.