Minding the mind

So, I’ve escaped for a morning to Skype my sister on her birthday (just barely…roused her from sleep at 11 PM) and to do a little grocery shopping. It’s the beginning of week 9 here and it’s the first time I’ve left the center other than two short trips by foot to the village to buy fruit and cookies. Amazing how time flies when you’re doing virtually nothing.

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On the way to Myanmar

anchorage_sunriseI’m currently in Bangkok, the third stop in a grueling journey to Myanmar. Taking a few days out here, ostensibly to recover from jet lag before taking the plunge into my 90+ day stretch of silence. Of particular note in the series of flights I took was the sillouhetted mountains against a blood red sky as I took off from Anchorage, AK at 5 AM. I haven’t yet figured out my new camera and know little about digital photography anyway, so couldn’t capture an image, but I’ll borrow the one to the right, which gives you an idea of what it looked like.

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Selfish selflessness

The very popular S.N. Goenka style Vipassana retreats are taught around the world by video dhamma talk, and are a consistent 10-days of silence, starting with three and a half days of anapanasati (breath awareness) instruction and the remaining days introducing the body-sweeping technique as originally taught by U Ba Khin. Actually, my first long retreat and longest retreat to this day (about to change!) was also in this style. I have since explored other teachers because I found the technique as taught by Goenka quite rigid and because it’s very important to me to have a teacher that is teaching in an individual way, to exactly where I am now. That’s hard to do by video.

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Everything called into question

So there were two parallel transformations going on while I was in Mongolia. The first involved the putting into daily practice one of the deepest heart connections I have ever experienced with another person, and had previously had in an almost exclusively verbal and intellectual realm from afar; and the second involved seeing how simply people can live and contentedly so.

Ultimately, I was being faced with the decision between freedom and security. I chose freedom, even though it certainly felt like it was being chosen for me.

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