06 June, 2016

Everything Falls into Place on the Path — 30 Days

In five short years of doing Vipassana, both serving and sitting …I finally sat a 30-day quicker than I thought. This was after hearing of one by a fellow after we sat a 10-day together in 2012. I guess he just planted a seed in me, and after seeing some gradual changes it arrived almost at my feet in April. It was more like the path chose me instead of the other way around. By the time most people sit a 30-day, they are firmly locked on Vipassana path, but as a Bhikkhuni(who ordained after 3 of the 10-day vipassanas) told me, it is as good as any other as long as it works for you. I am thinking I should stop trying to explain my path, and just sit the 2 hours a day, and continue to serve and sit. It has enabled me to evolve in relationship to become less of the problem when things are difficult, which can happen in any relationship. Time is short, and bouncing around trying to find a path that suits all of your changing needs will leave you empty upon your death. For those that don't know one is training the mind to accept all impermanence with equanimity which brings true happiness.

When I arrived 4 days earlier for my 30 day, to meet the trust that helps to run my center and to later do service work to prep for the course in a last minute chaos.. which is fine, but with my aphasia some residuals can carry for days. On day 3 during my interview with the teacher, he mistakenly attributed it to not sitting enough in preparation for the course(requirements at least 2 years, 2 hours a day). Instead of correcting him on my disability, I knew I would settle and did so in a day, and he was witness to it. Also with disability and total numbness on left side, I was still able to scan that part of my body accessing internal sensations like blood flow and pain in joints, not governed by sensory nerves on the surface of my body which is severely lacking. I can still cut myself on my left side of body, unaware of any pain... even today. For those with a normal body, don't freak...a mind/body can adapt to injury and have a meaningful life!

It was good to be able to sit with Assistant Teachers and older wiser sangha members who all sat in front of me in the hall during the evening sits. We were on our own to sit in the Pagoda cells, Dhamma Hall, or our rooms, and usually by 4:20 am after a thermos of tea, I was parked in my cell. Later in the course, when knees were hurting, I would sit in a chair until the chanting started in the Dhamma Hall, and move quietly to the floor. I was very honored to see Dhamma workers serving the whole course who have not sat a 30-day, so they get 3 hours a day, and usually have to bust their butts to get it all done since being short staffed. With their hard work they get more merit and faster wisdom in my opinion when utilizing dhamma in action in day-to-day life.

I quickly had to drop any concerns with my partner and home life duties in order to get on with accessing deeper sankaras, whether thought based or sensation based. I saw reoccurring thought patterns creating more misery than solving anything at all.What was remarkable to me was the length of the course allowed one to see rising and passing of anger, sadness, doubt, and even happiness with clear distinct breaks of nothingness when the body brought up even deeper held delusions. It, for me, did seem to be an arduous process overall. On Day 23, in the morning sit after breakfast anger came again, I went for my usual walk around between that first sit and second sit after breakfast, running the anger through my mind as a sign as to whether this was the right path for me, which means doubt was following ever so closely. I saw it so clearly, that I found myself laughing and relaxing even further. It was anger in its shortest form of about two hours, and I wasn’t even sure if based on thoughts or body sensations. It did not really matter, but the wisdom held in the “back-forty” of the mind just directed me to continue sitting, never attempting to run away. As stated by Geonka, "Through continued practice of Vipassana, the habit pattern of the mind to react with anger is changed." Right about then is when gratitude for Buddha and his teachings, and others that have helped me on the path were recollected. As I have told friends and fellow sitters that “gratitude tears” were the only ones shed in the whole 30-days. One could see several points where if one was not fully committed to this path, and of not sound mind could crack on past sufferings recounted. I do believe that even but having the minimum requirements for such a serious sit, that one would have burned off any gross delusions much like I have done. I did not totally experience Bhavana, but was being cultivated (the cessation of suffering) which then leads one to Nibbana, but let things happen at their own time, not expecting or demanding. Never disappointed or depressed about the whole experience and in fact was kind of surprised when we could talk again that seemed too fast. I write this to encourage others with serious brain injury, that this can help tremendously although not a quick fix. I use no drugs, nor alcohol and even stopped taking other the counter allergy pills. One does not do Vipassana to run away, but rather to look closely at one's own self-created misery. I know my family has no real idea of what I do or the path, but hopefully they will experience a change in me that I feel.

I am most certainly not a Buddha but am experiencing a lighter and lighter self, an enlightenment of sorts. There has been many payoffs on this path, but it can be subtle at times, but reaffirming enough to keep one meditating. I will, of course, serve more and plan on a 45 day within 2 years, and would definitely sit a 30 day again. It was relaxing in a way, not having a cell phone, internet, etc. ending any self-importance we carry, and when you return you find out that life carries on without you just fine. That alone allows one to concentrate on training the mind to see craving and aversion clearly and thus bringing more equanimity. That same equanimity I used to think was just boredom with all life has to offer, good and bad, since as I was firmly hooked on passion. It really was just wisdom, before I was aware.

29 May, 2016

A Little Preview

One of the requirements for a 30-day Vipassana, is to do one more 10-day after you do a 20-day. In a sign that this seems to be going in right direction was the fact that it was in a way far more “productive” in quickly finding sankaras …even as soon a Day 1. In a way, more deeper work was done at the 20-day than I previously thought which ending up being a good preview of the wisdom that comes out of Vipassana sits. And it flew by and I was home again, and signed for a 30-day in a way that was done, not really by me, but out of the wisdom that resides inside of being. That 10-day pulled up deeper sankaras, so when I was home again, I was shaken not stirred and exhibited some more agitation. Born out of training the mind, agitation comes out, because your old foundation of being and the m.o.a. of the old self is exposed. So, the 20-day is a test if this is right path for you. For me, it was.

13 April, 2016

Inspirations — Mooji, Anadi and Others

Here is a couple of inspirations, that besides my Theravada background combined with Vipassana, are others that for me point to truth. I first was exposed to a truth body of the abbot who ordained me, Phra Apisit. If one is ready for the truth of our existence, you will not forget being exposed to someone who is awake.

Second is Mooji, who is best introduced in this great video below. 

Third is Anadi who has dissected meditation with his Map of Awakening has a great 1/2 hour, guided meditation to make one aware of the dawn of a thought here which may help ending or at least making one aware of the start of negative thinking. Mooji makes simple awareness beautiful with love, whereas Anadi is more directed to the advanced meditator. Please remember there is someone out there that may ring true to you, now, at this point in your life with your own disposition. I must not forget, that women may be inspired by these Buddhist Nuns and their talks, they were instrumental in guiding me through my undoing and unraveling. That was accomplished during and post each of my 10-day vipassanas, and gave me strength to keep going. Never discount heart based wisdom that can best describe the female awakening, whereas men, in most cases, not all(see Mooji) seems to more mental or head based. Forth would be Bentinho Massaro's idea about "following the breadcrumbs of happiness," which can be directly related to me continuing on the path of Vipassana which I recount on my 30-day post. He has a great Q&A talk around Overcoming Limited Beliefs.

If there was one goal in my life, besides giving my husband a better life would to inspire others with the joy of being I hope to one day have yet never have to speak of.

24 March, 2016

The Great Undoing

One of the most significant outcomes of pursing a long retreat meditation path for me has been the gradual undoing of each firmly held idea I had of who or what I thought I was. I started slow, in a temple setting that provided 20 minutes before a teaching, and after a couple years did a 4 day with the same temple gang. Although there was a lot of teaching, and talking and in a casual setting, it pushed me to go further. Now, I am on for a 30 day Vipassana in April this year, after a five year foundation of 10-day Vipassanas. Here is a 6 minute film of the pagoda with cells. So with this practice, I quietly did my own ego busting, at first unknowingly. I had no indention to achieve awakening, but it had been shown to me by a monk's embodied presence, who ordained me in 2009. That there is some kind of internal wisdom one has, knowing that you can't return to the old way of existing, seeking distractions that draws your being to go sit again. The first spark was my brain injury, but it can be any life occurrence that shakes your foundation just enough to look closer.

It was slow, unraveling the stories I had of myself based on life circumstances alternating that with feeling compassion for family and wanting to fix them at first. It was a way of avoiding of really looking at myself. Of course with these ideas came tears in these sits while I was undoing my ideas and any wishes. Seeing anger arise in body sensations and finding its roots. Finally, losing the concept of control of what I thought I had, besides how you react. I can’t change anything outside of myself. 

This did leave me very raw when I returned. My heart was wide open after I grieved the past ideas and experiences, unable to seal it all back in. Who was I? …a man of purely of delusions carrying a heavy load of anger?  Just a few years ago, I had no hope that I would be living with my partner of 15 years, separated by an ocean, although his presence in my life was crucial for desiring some change, some more maturation. I also had it firmly planted in my mind that the most I wanted from life is not to die as a miserable old man wearing a mask of all the disappointments and none of the beauty. As I have stated before enlightenment for me, is the action of letting go…becoming lighter. Letting go that can only happen when you sit alone in a cell in darkness. It is kind of like having your hand in front of your face like a mirror, bouncing back all your bullshit. Looking ugly, you then slowly detach yourself from it in some ways. There is really only you….undoing hopefully arriving back to the place where we began. When I look in a mirror in the morning while shaving, now all I see is the mirror...not me.

24 February, 2016

When Fruits become Ripe

In a matter of time, all depending on how much you let go and your individual karma, begins to see fruit of your practice. I just sat another 10-day Vipassana, to qualify for my 30-day coming up. This one makes 8 of the 10-days, 3 of the Satipatthana courses, a 20-day with service work as well in the past 5 years. In this sit it quickly dove deeper to uncover more ancient mental formations, kind of deeper than the last 20-day I sat. I see why this is a requirement before a 30-day, one learns to download faster like it did or me on day 1. Appearing abstractly in dreams at night, but also bearing fruit when you are able to have enough equanimity in your sits. Unfolding naturally, especially when I stopped trying to run away in mind, or moving away in discomfort. I am not perfect, so the best I can be is more aware. I also made a firm intention not to plan to walk as much or do yoga to plan some mental icing on the cake for sitting for this 10-day at this time. I am beginning to know my mental tricks to run away from was right happening right now. This provided to allow me much more joy in dreams at night even abstractly based on fears and delusions. One dream, in particular, was my partner joking about my reactions to 4 windows broken out in my imaginary loft in a way in which he coaches me in real life. I laughed in the dream at how he is unaffected by my moods and quickly recovered to a more rational mind space.  I am well aware of how lucky I am in life to be with him. Also one day in my cell meditating, and obviously not occupying my body at this time we had an earthquake, and at first not knowing what it was that “threw” me back into my body, I was kind of disoriented until the aftershock occurred shortly afterward. Then I was thinking should I stay in my cell or not?... being back in the mind of fear, our normal state of me.

Now, this 10-day vipassana was also the clearest one, where I was there still the same person that I am at home. I was not running away, but running to who I am, and the knowledge that my wisdom gained from life and past sits guided me to uncover more or need to.  The residuals show me that me a little more has been retained when back home, but still being a work in progress with bi-lateral strokes and aphasia that makes normal take on a new meaning. Perhaps, I am now finally dropping the idea that anyone else can really know what is like to live in another’s body?

03 January, 2016

Often a Solitary Path

I went with my husband for coffee, and walking to the place I saw a homeless man, bent over his possessions digging looking for something. I could not see his face, but I used my gut instinct and I called him by name. He stood up and said, “How did you know it was me?” I have not seen him in 3 or 4 months, and introduced him to my husband for the first time and bought us all coffee. He said, “I wanted to go sit a 10-day like we talked about, I actually came back to see you, even though I was not planning on returning to the city.” I replied, you are in luck, since I am scheduled for one in February, and looked at the site to see if still open for men… it was. I thought while we are here I might as well give my cell instead of sending him to the library to register, and he did while we talked. I told him about my sister, and we talked about his sister who has cancer. I showed him her last post on FB, to let him know that as hard it was, she was in control of this exit plan, unlike most of her life living with schizophrenia. Later on, letting read him read a long, 13-page, wisdom piece by Anadi that I got by email that I find clear.

I am well aware that this will be a stretch if he gets it together and leaves on time with me, so it just may become another sign that one’s path is solitary. But, I still offered the ride to get him there and he knows I am dependable. When were talking, I said the reason I knew it was you, was because we all have an aura bigger than our physical form, and I did not have a “stranger” gut feeling when I walked by him, denoting it must be a friend even though he wore nothing I could have recognized him by. I “know” what every meeting has felt like with him, my body chronicles and knows way faster than my mind.

Traveling Grandparents See Snow
Tonight, I was making a cup of tea, and went to grab a chocolate, I could taste mint in the kitchen, even before I grabbed a piece that ended up to be mint from a huge box of mixed unmarked chocolates. I don’t what this means, especially since I have not had one that was mint since we opened the box a few days ago. But don't worry I won't take this as wisdom. What I do know is that... this path... I cannot even discuss most of it with my husband nor my family and friends. How that, even I am surprised about how I ended up on these long sits, looking back? Surely, my partner’s own Buddhist taught and lived wisdom helps reinforce my own knowledge, but this all a felt sense I have to experience with my own Kamma. The closest we can come is when we do Salutation to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha together at bedtime or help others together, and that is why he never batted an eye when I introduced him to a homeless friend out of blue. He just “waiied” him.

03 December, 2015

WhenYouStop? The practice

Awaking at 5am, I sit for an hour in silence and go back to bed after at 6am. I find it interesting that the dreams after sitting are fun and relaxed. One must churn out the burning annoyances that we often keep holding on to. It is sometimes a challenge if I get to bed late, but always find it fruitful over the course of the new day. It brings such ease in life which more than makes up for the supposed inconvenience.

I have written about my dreams during a long sit, and because one is scanning and it pulls them up from body level to mental awareness, where one finds them dumping out more easily at night. My practice to date, tells me I do not fully feel …I am there, yet know when internal wisdom prompts me to sit or look more carefully as to what or who is bothered.

Tipped off by another wisdom teacher, Sadhguru to say when I sit or any time in the day when I can remember, while breathing in, say silently: “I am not my body,” and when breathing out, “I am not even my mind.” Also trying to scan my body when I am discontent, for whatever reason.

With all this, I am incredibly grateful to have my husband remind me whenever I show anger or change tone and pulls in some of Buddha’s wisdom he has absorbed being a Thailand-born Buddhist. We often do Buddhist prayer to access our own wisdom similar to Buddha, at night before bed. A short version of the salutation to the triple gem prayer said in temples in morning and evening chanting. Just this little bit of intention helps to gain more peace in sleep and our harmony. 

I also try to sit evenings after dinner or before depending on when we eat, in an effort to clear out the day disappointments and let go even more. As my husband often says, “No Buddha or any gods will produce something for free with a simple prayer, you have to work on yourself to accept things as they are and change yourself.”

One more thing, a near death gave me a taste of something 20 years ago, and even after some resistance to what happened, I was significantly mentally and physically damaged(changed) and found I had no other choice. If what I truly wanted was happiness I had to lean towards wisdom and self re-discovery. Dropping alcohol and many untruthful acquaintances/friends along the way. And now there is no turning back, losing more of what I am not. So there is no WhenYouStop, life is the practice.
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