Updated: Aug 20, 2022
It's a happy moment whenever I get the chance to sit with others an intensive sesshin (meditation retreat) as this allows me each time to come back to that place of honesty where I can meet my own practice and, through it, my own life in a very open way.
Over the years you begin to realize there is a depth to this practice of silent sitting that you will never fully plumb.
Something rather joyful as what you are sensing as unfathomable is simply the mystery of life revealing itself to you.
A mystery we open up to and explore more an more not in order to to find answers to our questions whether they be existential or spiritual, rather, with a growing understanding that our task is not so much to find answers to haunting questions but perhaps more to meet life in a way that is more direct and open. This is about showing up, showing up for our lives, for our relationships, our encounters in a more present, aware and committed way.
We begin sitting with our ideas about how life should be or how we and others should be to slowly realize those thoughts and expectations are actually a barrier to embracing life as it is.
We struggle with that as this is quite frustrating but as the sitting deepens and we begin to give up on the idea of running away or changing what is unfolding into something more satisfying, we then get a sense of the awe of what it is to step out of one's thoughts and what they tell me about myself and the world.
Stepping out here means no longer discriminating. When this happens I come to realize that this is not about right or wrong; this is about being touched by the breeze as I step my house in the morning and no longer asking myself from which direction it is coming to me.
Thoughts keep coming and going but then that is all right for it is in the nature of things to come and go; I don't have to oppose that movement nor do I have to follow it.
Sitting's gift is that it allows me to get out of my own way the time it takes to sense through my pores the unifying force of existence. Getting out of our own way is uplifting and refreshing and has a sense of freedom to it.
This experience will certainly not change anyone's life. To seek change misses the point. Nothing like an intense meditation practice to sober us from our age driven obsession with self-improvement. Self-concern does not free us from suffering, it tends to amplify it.
Meditation does not take you to an elsewhere where you feel better about who you are. On the contrary, it makes you come full circle back to who you are, it helps you to open up, settle in and become intimate with uncomfortable parts of yourself, the parts you usually neglect or reject: those parts that you spend much time and energy trying to flee or transform. This is homecoming and this is maitri; showing up for your life in a full spectrum way.
And that's when the mystery starts to unfold: bringing kindness and acceptance to who we are cracks us open to the pain and joy of others, which is another way of speaking about compassion. And speaking of compassion, isn't that our true abode, where we come from and where we ultimately return to?