25 June, 2016

When a Feeling Dictates Mood

This is real quick post, based on today's experience. I woke up early to sit at dawn for an hour, and then went back to sleep to enjoy the clearing of worries usually a by-product of meditation. I woke naturally at 9:30 and began to clean house, and later, when having a cup of coffee began a upheaval of thoughts based upon a rising headache(a very rare occurrence, usually). Realizing that all things are impermanent, based on the style of meditation I do. I tried to ignore the pain and do more errands outside of home and later came back. It produced unease with no particular focus, and I began to read a new book that came in the mail, but within 40 minutes I needed to nap. It could be based on my brain injury(I often plow over my aphasia, based on my partner not letting me use this as any excuse for bad behavior), or subtle body reactions to the coffee. Then, it became very apparent to me, that I could actually see that the simple body unease as the its reaction to negative ideas I might have been recirculating. Doing Vipassana sits at home twice a day uncovers deeply rooted delusions and reminds you not put them back in. I examined what may have been the root, and it was the fact that was unhappy about some travel plans I made in the past under duress. So, your feeling state is always up to you, regardless of what happens. 

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.
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