Well I guess I ought to report in on what actually happened on my Zen retreat last week.
It had been almost four years since I attended such a retreat. I was out of practice. My mind seemed like it was filled with jumping bean for the first three days. I noticed how much time I spend indulging in judgment, comparison, useless analysis, and self-criticism.
Part of the problem was that this retreat involved less meditation than usual. A few hours each day, instead of meditating, we were learning how to guide others in a process called Mondo Zen. Mondo Zen helps people clear up mental and emotional confusion by enabling them to quickly drop into a meditative state in the face of interpersonal conflict or self-judgment.
Mondo Zen helps you get clear about who you are and, with meditation, helps you stay connected to that truth – i.e., you are more than your thoughts, feelings and actions. My executive clients (many who want the 45 minutes to enlightenment program vs. the twenty year one) love this process because it connects them to clear, deep heart/mind allowing for more calm and clear decision-making.
Anyway, back to the retreat. My back and knees were in pain most of the time. Again, I think I was out of meditation shape and the less intensive days of sitting kept me from ever developing my sitting muscles. Yet as the week went on I befriended the pain and used it as an ally to go deeper into the still, silent space inside me (whoever me is and I’m not sure if that space is inside me or I’m inside it).
As the morning service started on the last day of the retreat (at 5:15 am) I sat with a huge grin on my face, clarity and peace that I used to think did not exist. My heart was wide open and the jumping beans were deathly still. I felt I had come home again, to my real home.
I renewed my practice vow, increasing it to one hour of mediation each day (they caught me at a weak moment) as well as continuing my practice of eating organic food.
I think silence has risen with the price of gold. Even if it’s five minutes a day, try sitting in silence, not moving and focusing your attention on your breathing. It’s a quiet refuge only you can create in a noisy and confusing world.