“Well… I am not really sure where to start. Part of me wants to plan out what I am going to say so that this may sound as beautiful and poetic as the “my life’s” that you have read out previously. However I realized that even that thought is one of attachment, dependence and approval. Fifteen days ago, such a realization would not have been possible; I probably would still not have attempted to deceive you. However, now I have the real reason why I shouldn’t. I suppose, to examine how the past fifteen days affected my life and my mind is probably necessary.
Looking back at my life, I would have to describe myself as being quite attached to other peoples’ approval and I have always considered it to be one of my greatest weaknesses. It can be so debilitating to constantly seek approval; it limits one’s life to only that which is approved of by the majority. Being from a very western country, born into a very conservative religion and educated in a very narrow system, things like yoga, meditation and self improvement are seen as crack-pot, crazy activities; whereas beer-drinking, riding enraged animals, watching mindless T.V and picking fights is viewed as “normal behavior”. As a result of my dependence on others’ approval, I have taken just about no step towards self-development for fear of scorn. Therefore, for me to do this course has been tremendously helpful. If you had told me fifteen days ago that I would be using phrases like “peaceful completeness”, “unconditional love” and “the white light of peace”, I probably would have laughed at you. However after 10 minutes into the first session, I found myself understanding more about the nature of my mind and being, more than ever before. An illusion as transparent as that of duality has kept me blind for 21 years and in 10 minutes you made me realize that it is an illusion, for that I must thank you and your method. I also thank myself as you have stated that change is not possible unless the mind is already open to it; so thank you Jeff.
Mindfulness is one of the other wonderful gifts I have received from this retreat. To live consciously in the moment is so simple and enjoyable (I made my bed this morning and loved every second of it, ask Steph, ask my mom, I haven’t lovingly made my bed in my entire life!) I come from a world where you are considered lazy if you are not driving to work, thinking about work, eating a meal and listening to music at the same time. Mindfulness is beauty.
The other lesson that has been given to me is about living in the moment. “Pure joy is here and now” hit me so fully; it cannot be described. Such a simple truth has been hidden from me, partially by me, since I was 3. My dad’s favorite story to tell about me is that when I was about 3-4, he took me for a walk just after it had rained. Puddles covered the street, worms crawled in ecstasy and I ran to and fro admiring everything. Then I exclaimed, “It’s a wonderful world isn’t it?” With the seed of the truth of living in here and now planted in me, I feel like that kid again – in regards not only to beauty but also the mundane things. For that I give thanks as well.
The quote “only the imperfect see imperfections” and “pain is what l get when I step out of my business” and “what is is” have helped me in seeing that I cannot and should not try to control people around me. Before these 5 days, to be told “it’s out of your control” would have made me feel helpless; now it spells relief…
I feel especially empowered, oddly enough in knowing that my power is limited. That is in special regard to the activism and social work that I am involved in. No longer will I feel crushed by the world’s misery and injustice, as my duty is now clear to me. “I was born a warrior, so I ought to fight.” Success or failure of movements or protests or activism should not be as emotionally draining as has been my experience and this “mindful balance and equanimity” will go far to that end.”
Thank you so much.