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.
Guiño a Plympton. [Flickr]
8 hours ago