It can feel like pressure to write blog posts full of insights about life. Because sometimes you are just trying to figure out how to get away from the guy in the Bangkok train station who has exposed himself to you when the Thai National Anthem has begun to play and you are expected to stand in one place and look reverent.
Joel Altman, the fascinating and kind man behind Hariharalaya Retreat Center, where I now teach yoga and meditation, says things like, “At a certain point, there are no questions.” He will then expand upon quantum-physics-like descriptions of matter and energy. These descriptions are probably correct, except that I have not crossed over to the place in which questions dissolve into the limitless space of right now.
I probably should sit more, and stare into the face of my obsessions and fear. Every time I do that, the worries and spiraling thought patterns retreat a bit faster, and there seems to be a space that holds…less. Which might be akin to peace.
Many of the participants in my Thai Yoga Massage course in the Lahu Village have been on Vipassana retreat. In Vipassana retreat, you sit for ten days and watch your thoughts. You eat twice a day, but you can’t do yoga, or read or write a blog. You are stuck with yourself and your recycling thoughts and all your fear and neurosis. That, or you could sing country songs to entertain yourself and eventually go mad that way.
Everyone had a period over the course of ten days where they thought they were losing their minds. They cried or lost it some other way like packing their bags every day or having weird hallucinations.
I feel like this trip, in a way, has been one long Vipassana session of examining the way I view life, others and myself, while having crazy freak-outs, packing my bags constantly AND experiencing a few minor visions as well. (I could just be making this analogy because I DON’T want to sit for 10 days and I think I should.)
But losing our minds is sort of the point, as far as I can tell. Our thoughts and expectations are what cause us to suffer, according to Buddhist philosophy. Coming to a place beyond thoughts and expectation, to stillness, is the yogic goal.
There’s that saying, the only way out is through, that I’ve found true over and over again. So you have to wrestle through all the pratyaya, content of mind, to that quiet place on the other side. (Kind of like wrestling through all the reverent still Thai people to come to a place where a man is not exposing himself to you in the train station – see how I did that?)
I guess this post has been about convincing myself to meditate more. Maybe it will convince you too…