Laura

Thank you for giving me a supportive, beautiful and nurturing environment to examine my life, and in essence, to get a grip! I didn’t come expecting to find enlightenment in fifteen days, and I did not find that. What I did, however was realize some truths about myself. Seeing these for what they are will help me change what I need to.
The foremost lesson for me was to accept what I cannot change. It’s a long, long road, but I know this is the only real thing. Even when my knees are killing me from a long sitting or a difficult yoga posture, there is no other path I’d rather be on. I have experienced quite a lot in my twenty-six years and had previously thought that living fully meant trying everything – jumping into situations / people that in the end caused tremendous heartache for me and others. I had taken the existentialist approach – seeking happiness in others, places, or situations – although I was fully aware they wouldn’t last.
I found out at a young age that dealing with problems emotionally does not work, so in the past 10 years or so, I have been “rational” about planning my life, trying to make it as smooth as I can, not getting engaged in messy attachments by cutting off relationships if people threatened to get too close, or by temporarily losing myself in short-lived relationships that had a clear end in sight… either because I knew I would be moving to another place soon or because I purposely picked someone not right for me. Other aspects of my life have been unbalanced – particularly the concept of interdependence. I have always valued freedom above all else, but I thought freedom meant not being “tied down” in a relationship, not being dependent on anyone financially or emotionally, the ability to come and go as I please. The new freedom that I have found here, means much more to me now – freedom from the stories that rob me of peace.
People at home either criticize or admire me for coming to India, three times on my own. Some people ask me what I’m trying to prove. And when I look honestly, I think my very first trip here was partially motivated by a need to assert my independence from a family who I found to be very smothering and needy. But I can honestly say that this time I have recognized my call to this place, not to renounce my “identity” as an American or to live here permanently, or because it is “cool” to go to India, but because I have a connection here that I cannot deny. And that I don’t have to explain or justify to anyone! Let them think I’m weird; who cares? I have the courage to follow my heart and that is one of the most important lessons of the past 5 days that despite my many mistakes, addictions, bad deeds of the past, I too have a purpose here. I am learning and growing and that my time in India has prompted me to become more compassionate, kind, understanding towards others. All of these gifts I can use at any place I find myself in. I have done a few Vipassana retreats before, but I really liked this one because it gave me the chance to process situations that are disturbing.
I felt that both of you really care about all of us in the room. You responded to our concerns with loving presence, although I am sure you hear the same stories in the many retreats that you do. I didn’t have to put on an act because I knew I wouldn’t be judged and this allowed me to process more fully and honestly what I need to work on.
Thank you for showing me that it really is possible to integrate these principles with practice and lead a balanced, loving, compassionate life. Both of you have been an inspiration! Much love, happiness to you, although you already have it.

Thank you so much!