The End of Suffering Home Page
The End of Suffering
Day 6: One Day Meditation Retreat
(Sunday, October 10th 1999)
First, I'd like to welcome each one of you. I'd like to mention some guidelines, some suggestions about today's meditation. Everyone here should feel happy that you have decided to come here on a holiday and devote your time to meditation. It shows the interest you have for the practice. How many people will decide on a Sunday, which is a holiday, to come here and practice meditation? So every one of you deserves a very big plus.
Now I will try to give you an idea what we will be doing today. One thing is we will try to spend today as far as possible developing the practice of awareness or mindfulness. So you have got a wonderful opportunity to try to discover more things about the practice of awareness. I have noticed that people here move and walk very fast, so today please make an effort to slow down. Slow down and just feel relaxed with that slowing down. As I said on an earlier occasion, time has become a very important factor for modern man. So today you can completely forget about time. Just feel happy that you have this opportunity to be able to forget about time, and then move around, meditate in a very relaxed way.
Another thing which we will be exploring and discovering is what it is to be silent. Again, it is not something that we can easily do in everyday life, to spend many hours completely in silence. And I'd like you to discover for yourself the connection between awareness and silence. Speaking has become such a strong habit that some people find it extremely difficult when they have to be silent. So I hope today you will learn to enjoy the silence. Enjoy the space that silence creates in our mind.
Another suggestion I'd like to offer is that though you will be practising silence, you can also try to radiate thoughts of loving-kindness, thoughts of friendliness to everyone around you. We have learned to communicate with other people only through our words. Today please see whether you can also communicate with other people in silence, just feeling for others, just radiating thoughts of friendliness to everyone in this room, learning to see others as your spiritual friends.
So we will be exploring certain meditation techniques and I hope that you will find these techniques helpful and useful in discovering how your mind and body work. The idea of meditation is to find out, to discover through these techniques how we can free ourselves, how we can experience some peace, some calm within ourselves and also, as I said, to make discoveries while developing insight in relation to ourselves.
Meditation can be seen as the medicine that the Buddha presented for the sickness of humanity. So today you'll be tasting this medicine. Sometimes, as you know, the medicine can be very, very unpleasant; medicine is not always sweet. But if you want to find a way out of the sickness, whether the medicine is pleasant or unpleasant, you have to take it. And I really hope that today in tasting the medicine that you will have a glimpse, a realization, of what it is to heal yourself with the medicine the Buddha presented.
So today as I said, even when you have your lunch you should continue to maintain that silence. In everyday life, due to different reasons we eat very fast and are not even conscious of what we are eating. Today, I hope you will see the difference when you eat with awareness, when you eat consciously. It shows that anything in life can be a meditation. So here you will have opportunities to realize this. Not only when you are doing sitting or walking meditation but in all different situations, just see how you can apply meditation in such situations.
To give a practical example, when you have to go to the toilet and when you find that someone is occupying the toilet, how do you relate to that situation? So in that situation we can learn to develop the very important quality of patience. We can either suffer as a result of it or learn to accept it as it is and to let go of any suffering. Maybe a similar situation is when we are meditating; as I said, sometimes unpleasant experiences may arise. Physical pain or mental pain may arise. When they arise, please don't see them as disturbances or distractions, but please learn to see them as very important objects of meditation.
So in conclusion, I'd like to wish for every one of you today that with this exposure to meditation you will find a new direction in your life. When there is a change in oneself, this is bound to help the people around you in the family. It'll also help the people around you in the place where you are working. So with these changes, with possibly a new direction that will emerge, may you experience more joy, more lightness in yourself, and through that may you also be able to help others around you.
So now it's time for sitting meditation. Sit in a very relaxed, comfortable position; try to have your spine erect but relaxed.
Let us begin by being conscious of the body, feeling every part of the body. So when thoughts come, gently let go of them and come back to the body.
Feel friendly and gentle towards your body. Feel what it is to sit with your body completely still and completely relaxed.
When the body is inhaling, you know that the body is inhaling; when the body is exhaling, you know that the body is exhaling, using the breath to develop awareness.
Please do not consider thoughts as a distraction, make friends with them and come back to the breath. See your breath as your friend and just be with your friend, just enjoying, discovering your friend.
When you change your posture, please do it slowly and with awareness.
You'll be doing some standing and walking meditation now. Please walk with complete awareness. When thoughts come, gently let go of them and come back to walking.
Feel the different sensations and the different movements in your body when you are walking. Please do not look around, have your eyes downcast.
Experience the present moment, the here and the now, with the help of walking; not thinking about the past, not thinking about the future, just enjoying the present moment with the help of walking.
Can you walk as if you are walking on lotus flowers, in a gentle, soft, tender way, being conscious of each step? Do you feel the sensations in your feet? Let go of your thoughts gently and come back to walking. Please have continuity of awareness.
And please now just stand there. Be conscious that you are standing. Feel the different sensations and movements in your body. Just feel what it is to stand completely still and feel the stillness around you. Can you feel the peace and the stillness in this room?
Now return to the place where you were seated, having moment-to-moment awareness. This is going to be a very short sitting. So let us do a short meditation of loving-kindness, learning to feel friendly with whatever is happening in our mind and body: thoughts, sounds, sensations, emotions, just feeling friendly and gentle towards them, learning to use general awareness with friendliness.
After a short break we'll be doing some yoga. During this break, please try to have continuity of awareness from moment to moment and please maintain strict silence during the break. Also continue to be aware of your body, and after yoga I hope you will be feeling very relaxed in your mind and body.
So let us continue for some time just feeling relaxed in our mind and body, learning to make a connection with our body, learning to feel friendly, gentle and kind towards our body. Let us learn to be open to both pleasant sensations in the body and also unpleasant sensations, learning to accept the sensations just as they are, completely relaxed and the body completely still. Then you may feel the stillness and the peace around you.
Now about eating, how can we use eating as a meditation? As I said this morning, you can learn to eat slowly, at least today. You have enough time for that. Just will see the difference when you eat slowly. Another thing is, try to chew your food consciously. And when you taste the food, just know that you are tasting the food; and when you are swallowing the food, just know that you are swallowing the food. So chewing, tasting, swallowing consciously.Also when we eat our food, we make judgments, we give plusses and minuses. So please be aware, just know that you are making these judgments. And when you are not making these judgments, know that you are not making the judgments. And all this you'll be able to do only if you eat in silence, so please make an effort to eat in silence and with awareness and you may make some very interesting discoveries about eating. After you finish eating, feel grateful that you have this opportunity to eat in silence and with awareness. It's a very important practice to remember to feel grateful, either before or after eating.
And after lunch until we meet at 2:00 p.m., please continue to be silent and please continue to have moment-to-moment awareness in whatever you do. Thank you.