A few breakthroughs today.
1. Unguided meditation. Today’s meditation session was only guided (i.e. with someone telling you what to do) for a few minutes. The rest of the time was our own to let our minds go. Now, I’m not great at meditation; it’s hard for my ego to STFU. Plus, given the trauma of the morning (to discuss later), I was quite sure the session would be useless to me.
Oddly, it wasn’t.
I drifted and found myself in a ruin with a baleful red sun. There were statues everywhere. I recognized the scene and chuckled to myself; a long while back I’d read the Chronicles of Narnia, and one of them (maybe the Silver Chair?) that has this setting. A world almost at an end. Upon closer inspection, all of the statues were me. One of the me-statues looked ecstatically happy, which was weird to see those features frozen on my face. I touched the statue. Nothing happened.
I walked through the ruins, among the me-gallery, until I found one of me wearing bright orange robes and sitting in a traditional meditative seated position, palms pressed together (for the record, we meditate lying down here). I reached out to touch it, but before I could, it’s eyes opened. It smiled a sage smile.
“I have been waiting,” it-I said.
I was quite surprised. “Who are you?” I asked the thing that looked like me.
“Patience,” it answered.
At that moment, the real world started trying to creep in. I felt an ant crawling on my arm.
“It is your Ego,” said Patience, fuzzily, since I was having great difficulty remaining in trance with the tickle of the insect.
“It is an ant,” I said.
“Maybe, maybe not. It is a tiny insect, able to divert the attention of something thousands of times its size. But at the end, it is insignificant to you. You grant it power by granting it significance.”
I tried to ignore the tickle, which intensified. Soon it was joined by one on my foot, and one on my leg.
“Look,” whispered the wind, which was nearly all that was left. I saw a me-child, in pigtails, looking as angry as a five-year-old me can. It began to throw a tantrum, stomping the ground and balling its tiny hands into fists. Patience was back, but I couldn’t hear it speak. I understood to go to the child, and I did, drawing it into a hug. It sniffled and stopped wailing, though it still looked unhappy.
I didn’t tickle anymore.
The session ended soon after. I treasure the hour I get to myself each day, which I usually use to play in the waves. This beach’s water is disorganized and chaotic, laboring long and hard to produce any sort of passable line. That works for me, as it’s an apt mirror for my mind.
I thought about my dream, while lost in the waves. I thought it significant that Patience was dressed like a Buddhist nun. I think I’m unlikely to have any further breakthroughs until Suan Mokkh – the monastery. I think I’m to embrace Patience. I can deal with that. It is in some ways less jarring a lesson than last night’s/this morning’s….
2. Humility. Ah, god. Humility and humiliation are similar for a reason, yes? I don’t want to go into details about the colonic, which is good, because I’m certain you do not want to read them. However, in addition to it, which is very, shall we say, bowel-loosening, there are also the shakes. Five times a day, we take the “Colon Pure,” that is fiber, flaxseed and several other laxative-type ingredients. On this retreat, if you are constipated, something is very wrong.
I am not. I have the opposite issue. Severely. Enter my smoking. No, I haven’t restarted, haven’t even craved one. However, this has allowed my lungs to do some spring cleaning. A lot of spring cleaning. The lungs’ version of a dirtdevil and windex is coughing – a lot of coughing.
I will let you assume what happens when these two conditions occur simultaneously between sheets.
The most unpleasant part was how to tell someone. It was already late at night, so the best I could do was bag up the sheets and move to the other bed (thankfully there are two). I figured I’d do it first thing in the morning, but the anticipation of such embarrassment did not make for an easy night’s rest.
In the morning, Dar rang the bell and called us out for our morning walk. Dar speaks OK english, but I didn’t really want to tell him and was horrified at the thought of having to circumlocute or repeat myself. I asked where Simon (the fluent manager) was. He advised Simon didn’t arrive until 8. D’oh!
So off for the 6k+ walk, with this horrid anticipation drilling away in my mind. Everything was sore from yesterday’s walk, especially my hips and legs. And god help me, I’ve rubbed painful blisters on the insides of my thighs. AUGH.
Finally, after a nerve-wracking trudge through packs of barking wild dogs (no joke), we get home. Simon is there. I pull him aside, tell him what happened and why as quickly and clearly as possible. I give him my room key to give to the maids. He starts to ask questions, but I am crying and can’t answer. Thankfully he goes away.
My tears are not lost on the rest of the participants, who all ask what’s wrong. One by one, I have to thank them but say I really don’t want to talk about it. I can’t. It was gut-wrenching to tell one person, knowing the whole staff would know. (Aside: I thought long and hard over whether or not to include this portion of the journal in my blog, but after discussing with Rhys, I decided this blog was for the good and the bad. I apologize if it’s too much information, but it’s honest, and the truth is what you signed up for!) I tried my best to put it out of my mind for the rest of the day. It definitely took me down a notch or two.
Afternoon exercise was three games of volleyball. I did awesome! I didn’t care about winning, and I made a lot of dumb mistakes, but it was so much fun. I was smiling and laughing and felt alive. Thank goodness for the end of today!
Current Count: 4d Smokefree, 3d Fasting
Mental: 1/10 (am), 6/10 (pm) Physical: 6/10
Did not have an easy time getting to sleep last night at all (so worried about a recurrence). Tossed and turned. Woke at normal time, but had to force myself out of bed. No energy.
(Dar, our drill sergeant/guide/yogi/aerobics instructor/all-around great guy, is pictured to the right) Halfway to talking myself out of the morning walk as I’m snapping on my Teva’s.
Dar rings the bell, and I walk resignedly toward doom. Everything is much, much more sore today, but especially my hips. Shin splints start up as soon as I put weight on my legs. Oddly, though, I feel no hunger. Just physical strain.
Dar pulls a nasty trick today. The previous days, we have walked halfway, then turned around and come back. I’m almost to the point of telling him I’m going to sit and wait until the group comes back, when Elaine asks. Dar replies to her that today’s route is a loop. Cruelty!
Made it, though, and the seabreeze feels great. Our walks always take us away from the ocean, and so returning we have a path lined with fronds that opens to the clear water. It’s lovely, even if you’re exhausted.
Made it through the meditation and the yoga. The excruciating massage (it’s not for relaxation, it’s to “fix issues.” Day after day, in the same reflexology points. Bruises!). Could NOT make it through afternoon exercises. Felt like I’d hit a brick wall, face-first.
I excused myself and laid down for forty minutes until the nutrition workshop. I fell asleep. Elaine was kind enough to come check on me and woke me up for the class. She’s from South Africa and is very nice; she’s about 50 but has three bright colors in her hair, none natural. I like her a lot.
Current Count – 5d Smokefree, 4d Fasting
Mental – 5/10 Physical – 2/10