I hope you had a great holiday season and you started good in the new year!
I would like to tell you how I started the new year and what I learned.
I was attending a silent meditation retreat in a Buddhist forest monestary in Thailand. So I spent five days in silence and tried to live after Buddhist custom and learn their way of mindful meditation.
Well it was challenging.
The silence should actually support to quieten down the mind. The rules were hard and the accommodation very simple for Westerners. We were getting up at 4am, were eating only twice per day and not after 12.30. The beds were Bambus mats on concrete with wooden pillows, there was no running water and we were not supposed to speak, read, write or listen to music.
All this simplicity should actually help to settle the mind and focus on the spiritual development. While I found it very interesting and I agree with a good few aspects of Buddhism, I couldn’t really feel the spiritual spark in me.
Maybe because I didn’t finished the retreat, maybe because it isn’t in me.
They call a jumpy mind a ‘monkey mind’ and my mind gave literally everything. It must be royalty under the monkeys 🙂
It was so bad that I had three days awful headache from all that thinking. On day 4 I felt so tired from the battle against my mind as I constantly tried to calm it down.
I thought about the situation and realised actually that I like my monkey mind. That I might have a more curios and intellectual soul rather than a spiritual one. I realised I love thinking and even so I sometimes wish for more quietness in my head I think I can find a compromise with my mind.
It was a very interesting experience and gave me a lot to think about.
For example, they teach that attachment is the root of all suffering. I can see the truth in it but wonder at the same time how love without attachment might work. Would that mean to live the ‘set them free and see who is coming back’ rule? Would that not seem a bit careless? I can agree to a certain degree that attachment causes a lot of suffering but have issues to see how an completely attachment-free live would work in practice.
One of the biggest struggles was the approach on food. As a little foody that I am this hit me really hard. In Buddhism the purpose of food is to stay alive and healthy. Well for me food is one of the biggest pleasures in live. The 2 meals per day were more or less the same variations of each other,simple vegetarian rice dishes. They were OK, but if I would have stayed 10 days I would have possibly started crying.
The Buddhist statement in regards to education was rather interesting. On one hand they tell you need to use your own intellect in order to proof a theory and not just follow blindly another persons theories. But on the other side they consider the wish or urge for more education in the formal system as some kind of distraction from your spiritual journey. This journey will make you search for truth inwards and not outwards. I can’t fully agree with this either. As much as I admired the calmness and peace this Buddhist monks were showing, and I actually as well believe experiencing, so do I think education is a fundamental thing in life that makes live better and can open your mind to new dimensions too. I therefore have trouble to disregard this as something that would hinder your spiritual development.
Well as I said I didn’t made it through the full retreat, I got caught in a Monsun and flooding which made the circumstances for me just too miserable to power through. I am a little disappointed in myself that I wasn’t strong enough to ignore momentarily discomfort, however on the other hand I am happy that I listened to my gut feeling and stayed at least half the time.
So now I will enjoy a few more relaxing days and hope the sun will show up at some point.
I will be back soon.
‘think a happy thought’