Tag Archives: Goenke

patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue, and a virtue which I can’t say I’ve mastered in my life. While I was in India I realized that I’m a very impatient individual contrary to my belief that I actually am patient. Let me expand. I am patient with the people that come in my life and the situations that are thrown at me. But, I’ve realized that I am not patient with myself. This is something that was further noticed during my vipassana experience.

Here’s what I’m talking about.
India: I took yoga classes for two and a half months. Surprisingly, there is a process in which you learn the different poses and maneuvers. Yes, I knew this going in. Did I keep this in mind within the first week and a half? Nope. My teacher was teaching me the process. First, I had to learn pranayama. We spent the entire first week on just that. One hour every day. Next, we moved on to learning stretches; I’m talking about flex your toes, bend your knees, completely basic stretches. In the back of my mind, I’m screaming, “I know all of this! Lets get straight to the head stands.” And then we moved onto very basic moves that I had already practiced during my regular yoga sessions in Memphis. I began getting very impatient a few weeks in. All I could think of was how I want to learn more advanced techniques and poses in yoga. That wasn’t going to happen.
Vipassana: If you read my posts on vipassana (if not, check them out here), you read how I was getting bored the first few days, especially when I realized that we weren’t even practicing the real vipassana technique, just a precursor to it. Of course, in the beginning I was thinking how I just wanted to get to the real deal.

Point of both of these scenarios: I feel as though I am more prepared than I actually am. I want a challenge from the get-go. I don’t like easy. What I learned from my yoga experience, was that through learning the basics, I’m strengthening my foundation so that I can be more successful when I actually do begin some more advanced poses. The basic crunches and bicycles and leg lifts that I was having to do in the beginning of my yoga training in India strengthens my core, which is really essential for a basic surya namaskar. Each step is built upon the prior. The same goes with what happened at vipassana. If I jumped straight into vipassana meditation without the basic foundation of ana pans where I’m learning to just concentrate my mind, then during actual vipassana, I wouldn’t have figured what the heck Goenke was talking about!

It’s as easy as this. When I was little, I would always watch people take the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to so bad, but looking back, I wasn’t ready for it. I needed practice. I needed to be patient. As silly as this little anecdote is, I think it gets my point across. You can’t jump straight to the big leagues, when you can’t even throw the ball. Okay, I’m done with my ridiculous metaphors and stories.

So, why am I writing about patience today? I came upon this quote:
“Please remember that patience is in and of itself a great challenge, and that it often holds the key to breaking through a seeming impasse.” Daisaku Ikeda

I was having these thoughts about patience when I was in India, and I even was talking to my friend back in the states how I was frustrated with my yoga teacher because I didn’t want to do this baby stuff. I realized I have a major patience issue.

This quote really resonates with me, in that patience really is a great challenge, an even greater challenge when it comes to being patient with yourself. I think humans are very eager individuals. It’s really easy for us to jump ahead, but when we don’t succeed at that stage, we get overwhelmed with disappointment in ourselves, and we quit. But, if we build ourselves one step at a time, we’re setting ourselves up for success.

Patience is a virtue, but one that takes great effort to actually instill in our lives.

Happy first day of February!

final thoughts on Vipassana experience

By the end of the week, I was able to sit longer periods without hating the pain in my knees and back. The more I observed my physical discomfort, the quicker it went away, even if during that one moment of observation.

I can’t say that I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish coming into the 10 days, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I did learn some things that I’m deeming as important in my life journey, and will definitely play an important role in seeking the Truth.

1. I know I’m an emotional person. I react to every situation that comes at me. I now realize the extent to which this happens. How can I live a balanced life when I don’t even have a balanced mind?
2. I left Vipassana with a greater awareness of myself. I can definitely feel the sensations on my body, and I realize that they are there now. Do I still go in for that scratch on my nose. Yeah, a lot of the times, especially when I really can’t stand it. But, at least it’s not an unconscious act. I know that I am reacting. It’s not just another motion of life. Awareness-it’s a pretty amazing thing.
3. I left a huge grief in Kaufman, Texas. One that I wasn’t aware still hung tight to me. I realize that I let past situations determine my future sometimes, when it’s my current actions that determine my future. I’m learning to let go.
4. I have an attachment issue. To my friends, families, ideas, schools of thoughts. They’re in my comfort zone, and I’m scared to venture out. As much as I’d like to think that I’m open-minded, and as much as I am, I am actually very limited to what I am open-minded about. When it comes to spirituality, I like what I’m doing. Like I said, if I went to this pre-India, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. My world is being filled with so many new and exciting things, and it makes me so excited for my future, and the path I’ve decided to walk on. To become closer to the Divine, to have a real and fulfilling relationship with the Supreme involves so much more than I ever imagined, and I am realizing this a lot now. If I keep focusing on the one or two things that I don’t like about an idea, a person, a school of thought, I could be missing out on so much more that means a lot more. What is wrong with me!? At least this realization is coming now. Better late than never.
5. I want to live my life with so much love and compassion for all beings and creations that walk or sit this world.

At the end of the day, can I say that Vipassana Meditation is the technique I want to practice here on out? No, I can’t. It’s something I’m still learning about, and figuring out if it’s for me or not. But I can say that it has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about what kind of life I should be living, and want to live. A balanced life. A neutral life. A positive and hard-working lifeA life filled with love.

I am so in love with life right now, and I am so in love with the path that God is sending me on. My friend describes it as scary, but I like to describe it as fun and exciting.

May all beings be happy.

Vipassana experience: part 2

I’ll have to say, that the first couple of days were actually extremely boring for me. I found no mental stimulation, and focusing on my respiration and the reality of my breath was tedious and anything but exciting. Plus to top it off, it was raining the first few days, and I had holes in my shoes, which equals wet feet. Great.

Day 4 finally came, and we were actually going to learn vipassana meditation (up to this point it was just ana pana…focusing on the breath and concentrating your mind). Maybe I won’t be so bored anymore. This is where the real stuff was kicking in. It was an adjusted schedule this day. We had a sit from 3-5pm where we weren’t allowed to leave the room so that we can fully understand Goenke’s directions. So, we’re sitting, eyes closed, focusing on our respiration, focusing on the area underneath our nose and right above our upper lip, observing any sensations we may or may not be feeling there. Then, all of a sudden, he tells us to bring our attention to the top of our head, and slowly make our way down the body to the feet. We must make sure to feel every sensation, whether it be hot, cold, tingly, itchy, prickly, sweaty, whatever, in every nook and cranny of our body. And let me just tell you, woah. Like, freaking woah. I literally felt a movement of tingly-ness run through my body again and again. It was probably the craziest and surprisingly cool things I’ve ever witnessed. It was hard not to create an excitement towards this feeling that overcame me. To just observe and be neutral was a much harder task than I originally anticipated it to be.

Over the next several days, my meditations were just a bunch of ups and downs. My mind just would not stop on some days. I couldn’t stop thinking, and the music would not stop playing. There were days where I just could not concentrate and focus. At all. In the discourses every night, he would mention the importance of working hard. But not just working hard, but working diligently, patiently, persistently. I would walk back to bed some days thinking maybe I’m just not working hard enough, despite my serious effort to concentrate my mind. What was going on? I just wanted to concentrate. I just wanted to feel those sensations like that first time of doing vipassana.

Gji-sittingBW

Hey Goenkeji!

And there it was. I was creating craving and aversion before my very eyes. The one thing that Goenke said not to do. Well played Goenke, well played. Everything began to click towards the end of the middle. The root of misery, craving and aversion, I was creating for myself. I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I decided to work even harder than I was. I wanted to work diligently, patiently, and persistently, without wanting the good sensations and without wanting the bad ones to go away. I can’t say that my concentration and focus got exponentially better and that I could sit hours upon ends focusing on the sensations without being bombarded by my thoughts. Honestly, that happened a grand total of 2 times. Just two. All the other times it was a struggle. But, I worked. I worked hard. I know that this practice is going to come with time, and that’s okay.

Vipassana experience: part 1

So, I’m back. And, I think that I’m going to have split this up into a few parts, because, well, it was a lot of experience. I mean a freaking lot. I’m not really sure what the best route is to go through all the details, so let’s just see how it goes.

Like I said before, this course was a no talking, no writing, no reading, no communicating with anyone 10-day trip. And, seriously all I can say is that it was mind-blowing. Never have I realized just how crazy I am. I mean, I know that I’m crazy, I think we all do. But, when you’re stuck with yourself for 10 days, you realize just how crazy you are.

Let’s start with the first day, or as they call it day 0. When we walk into the registration area that afternoon, I’m feeling pretty confident. Like, oh yeah I totally can handle this. I mentioned in a post from India, how I try to meditate every day. I think meditation is such a great tool to use to strengthen your relationship with the Divine. So, yeah, I went in thinking that I totally got this. Boy was I in for a little surprise. Our first meditation started that evening after dinner. And it’s safe to say that I got little to none meditation in. The whole concept behind vipassana meditation is to focus on the reality of the moment. We are so always caught up in either the past or the future, two parts of our lives that we have absolutely no control over. It is so difficult to focus on the present. Go ahead, see if you can focus on your breath without intruding thoughts about things that happened yesterday or things you have to do for like 5 minutes straight. Seriously. It’s really tough.

This was the first time I realized how unstable my mind really is. I can’t focus. At all. Maybe, I would get in about 2 minutes of real focus on my respiration at a time, but my thoughts just wouldn’t stop. What was going on? I realized I am never living in the present. My mind is on turbo speed. Always. Woah.

The early days continued. 4am wake up gongs were terrible, yet easy to wake up to, and surprisingly I felt pretty fresh waking up that early, not groggy at all. Back to meditation. Progressing a little bit as the days went on. By day 2, I was able to hold my concentration on my respiration for longer periods of time. Cool! Maybe Mr. Goenke is right after all. With practice comes success. This isn’t so bad after all. One of the harder things was to not get frustrated at yourself at a seemingly easy task. But, just accept the reality of it.

Another phenomenon happened on day 2 as well. Towards the evening, right before the night group sit, I began to feel very lonely and isolated. The real-ness of not communicating with others and living an isolated lifestyle began to really sink in. I did not like it, and it is safe to say that I could not stop crying. So, here I am, sitting in the meditation hall, trying to concentrate on my breathing, but all I can do is cry. But then, an amazing thing happened. Basically what was going on, was a lot of past situations and experiences started coming back to me, that I never wanted to feel again. So I told myself, snap out of it, and focus on your breathing. That is what is going on in the now. I did. And I stopped crying. It was so incredible. The minute I stopped dwelling in the past, and actually focused on the present, I was able to let go of some huge weight that apparently had been dragging me down, and was just waiting to resurface. It’s awesome what focusing on the present can do. I was beginning to get what Goenke was saying about the past and future, and how we should begin focussing on the present.

This is all getting pretty cool.