Monday, July 19, 2010


Many years ago I participated in a all-day Buddhist meditation retreat.  From 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I had to meditate, walk, meditate, participate in dharma a discussion, eat in silence, walk, meditate, meditate, meditate, meditate,  and meditate. I had false expectations for that day. I really believed it was going to be peaceful and beautiful. I was wrong!

It was hell.

Prior to that day, I had studied Eastern Philosophy by taking some courses at my local college. I had read some books on meditation and Buddhism.  I even  participated in half hour meditation practice once a week at my local Buddhist Center.  I was ready for this day or at least I thought I was.

We started the day by meditating for 30 minutes. That was fine. Then, we walked mindfully. That was fine too. We meditated again. Still fine. We walked again.  Okay, still fine.  By the third meditation, my legs were cramping. My back was aching. I had a non stop parade of bullshit thoughts.  I constantly had to remind myself to bring my mind home. I had to remind myself to become an observant of my thoughts.

When lunch time came around, we were told to eat in silence. Since I'm not a very social person, as a matter of fact, I can't stand most people in the planet, I liked this idea very much. But something awful happened to me while I ate my vegetarian Vietnamese lunch in silence, I had a horrible craving for a diet Coke. My desire was not for any ordinary diet Coke in a can, no, I wanted a Double Big Gulp from 7- Eleven. Now,  I don't shop at 7- Eleven regularly, but that day I wanted a 64 ounce cup of cold Diet Coke. When lunch was over, the head Buddhist monk told the group to rest or to go for a quiet, mindful walk. I pretended to choose the walk, but when nobody was looking, I ran to my car and I drove around town searching for a  7- Eleven. Luckily, I found one not too far from the Buddhist center and I bought my Double Big Gulp! 

After lunch we continued with the meditation routine, well, except for that constant need to pee. Around 3:00 p.m. I was hating life. The non stop parade of bullshit thoughts continued, but this time, the thoughts became quite stupid. For example, I remember contemplating this thought: Why did I stop being a Catholic? Catholics don't have sit for hours and endure mid thoracic pain. They don't have to sit and watch the brain produce a never ending flow of shitty thoughts. At 4:00 p.m. I hated everybody in the room, including myself. Why are we sitting here, pretending we are at peace? Hahaha people who think that Buddhism is peaceful should experience this meditation hell! How did we arrive at this silly romantic idea of Buddhism? We silly Westerners only see the surface of Buddhism. We are suckers! Around 5:00 p.m. I was having  a Pink Floyd moment: Okay, if there is no self, who is producing these thoughts? Who is watching this parade of thoughts? (panic!),

When meditation was over, I told my friend I wasn't feeling that well. He actually had a  peaceful look on his face. He told me that his first meditation retreat was hell too. He said,  "All these inner  garbage comes up." My friend went on to tell me that on a week-long meditation retreat, he was able to deal with the garbage and move on to the next step (there's another step? fuck!)

On my drive home all I wanted to do was cry and I did. I sobbed non stop all the way home. At times, I wanted to get out of the car and run and scream and cry until my body completely dissolved.

This past Friday, I told V. that on my next summer vacation, I wanted to go away for just a week. Not only for my sanity, but for his too. V has to deal with the "nice Trying" and the "grouchy Trying." I told him I wanted to go to a place far away from people and civilization. I want to be alone for a week and meditate, read, walk, and dig my hands in soil that is not located in a pot.  Where is this place? I don't know, but I know it's not Club Med.  I made it clear that if I went alone, he had the right to take a one week vacation alone too. He asked if I was sure I wanted this. He knows me too well. He knows that I get nervous easily and if he decides to take a long bicycle journey, I can't bitch and moan about safety and the road.

When I started this post, I originally wanted to write about the photograph below. I saw this photo in the Los Angeles Times. I took a pen and wrote a dialogue. It sounded funny this morning and I wanted to share it with you, but as I write this tonight, I ask myself: Why did I write this?

It has been a joke in my family that I dislike pregnant women, especially, first time mothers. I'm intolerant of their bullshit halos they carry above their heads, as if  pregnancy has never occurred to anybody else but them. I can't stand it when they rub their bellies in public and their angelic faces scream: look at me!  I'm so cute! When V and I were in New York, we rode the elevator at the Whitney Museum. There was a pregnant young girl riding with us. She try to pull the cute pregnant act on me and I just gave her this "fuck you, I'm not impressed with your pregnancy! Are you aware of the environmental consequences your child will bring to this planet? and how your ego's ignorance will most likely damage this kid forever? " look. My malice made her so uncomfortable, she ran out of the elevator as soon as the door opened.

My vacation has been overall pleasant. But all those hours at home alone is slowly releasing my inner garbage just like that meditation retreat.

I'm sorry.


  1. I understand you... Last summer I had to do this shitty housewife role and it broke my nerves. It really did.

  2. No todas las embarazadas son así, pero te topas con cada tipa que... Lo cierto es que los chiquitos no tienen la culpa de nada.

    Pero esas fotos de anuncios y revistas las odio tambien: Con fotos asi convencieron a miles de personas de embarcarse en aventuras hipotecarias comprando casas que ya ves despues como resultaron... eme nferma que utilicen sensibleramente la maternidad con fines comerciales. Yo todavia me sigo rriendo de lo que escribiste en la foto >=D

    Yo voto porque hagas ese viaje, y si quieres a cambio puedo ir a México a ver a la familia y ya cumplida la misión, me alcanzas nos despedimos y nos vamos a pasear por nuestro lado. ¿Como ves? ¡Dos piedras con un pájaro!

  3. carolina:

    Thank you. Sometimes it breaks my nerves too. The actual housework is not that bad. It gets bad if I think about the social/psychological aspects of housework. Today, when I cleaned the restroom I had to listen to the law professor, Elizabeth Warren on youtube just to keep my mind thinking.

    How are you doing these days?

  4. Estaba pensando hoy en la mañana: Aca hemos visto un monton de mamas oaxaqueñas, llevando sus dos chamaquitos preescolares y con otro en la panza y esas no et caen gordas, asi wue pienso que no es la maternidad lo que odias, sino a las sangronas mamas clasemedieras que quieren llevar sus embarazos como dicen las revistas!

  5. todavia:

    tienes razón, no todas las embarazadas me caen gordas----gracias por mencionarlo. mi actitud sobre las embarazadas de la clase trabajadora es diferente. no habia pensado en eso. creo que descrimino. cuando veo a una chica pobre embarazada no reacciono de esa manera. que raro, no? con ese tipo de mujeres, mas bien, me da un poco de pena (i feel sorry for the kid because he/she will struggle in society).

    pero me cae gorda esa actitud de princesa clase mediera que espera un bebé.

    no son celos.

    me molesta ese narcisismo en su cara. ah, y me chinga la existencia esa actitud que toma con su bebé: que es unico y especial. esos nenes unicos y especiales son los que inventan excusas para invadir a Iraq y Afghanistan. esos nenes especiales e hijos de puta son los que pisan a la gente pobre de los paises del tercer mundo para tener un economic gain.

    yo entiendo que mi actitud contra las chicas embarazadas de la clase media no es la mas cristiana--ni la mas budhista.....

    (excuse my poor Spanish)

  6. Maybe it's a matter of practise, It's like today i went jogging with some friends for the first time and we were not even on the corner and I was ready to go back to the house and eat a bar of chocolate!!! so maybe you need to do it li8ttle by little until all the unwanted thoughts stop to pop up. My husband is like you, he doesn't like people in general. I don't dislike pregnant women, but the kind that expect extra nice treatment just because they decided to carry 3 kilos in their belly for 9 months....

  7. Hi Trying:

    I often try to "meditate" in the oriental style...
    All time I come reach the same conclusion: that's for eastern people, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan lamas, Buddhist monks. Not for me...
    our minds work differently.
    No better or worse: different.
    Oh, yes... The Tao's... Satori...Zen...Suzuki...
    I have the books.
    I read the books.
    But I did not understand.
    Is simple, I say: I have no capacity to understand a concept that is between philosophy and psychology western.
    Be silent? Be quiet? Yes, off course...
    I'm almost all the time, but not my head.

    Go travel alone (but do not miss).


  8. La Negra:

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with you, we should be nice to pregnant women for carrying that extra weight and we should also be nice to all the people that carry extra pound because society is not kind to obese people. Oh, and we should be nice too to all those "obreros" that do all that heavy lifting and hard work.

  9. Mr. Crónicas:

    My meditation guide used to tell me that the objective of meditation was not to stop thinking. He stressed the idea of becoming the observer of your own thoughts.

    I understand you. Medidation is very hard. We should keep trying.

  10. I used to practice tai-chi years ago. It was very funny to be able to let your mind in an unnusual 'void' mood... It helped me a lot. I learnt to be on focus via tai chi (but, as you know, it was not a solution for some kind on problems)...

    Travelling alone is a good thing... Just like tai-chi: boxing with a shadow

  11. Cantodecaza:

    On my first visit to SF i visited the business district. People wearing their professional uniform were running amok, then....suddently, i saw this man practicing tai chi. It was an antonym to the madness.

    I used to travel alone before marriage. V used to take long trips on bicycle, alone. Now, we travel together and we enjoy each other's company. But, travelling alone is a good least once in a while.