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Lessons from the Retreat April 8, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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This past week I’ve been gently reflecting on my practice, and how I was doing before the retreat. I’ve noticed a couple of changes before and after, and I’m hoping these insights might keep my practice going well for longer.

One thing I noticed that was happening before I went on retreat was that I had gotten quite lazy in my practice, and almost holding onto negative thoughts. I think I had expected some sort of sudden realization or magical phrase that could just snap things into place and make me feel joyful and free. I really don’t think such a thing exists for me right now, and I’m seeing that it takes quite a bit of steady, diligent work to keep my mind in positive places. I noticed this on the retreat where it took quite a bit of mental effort to maintain the energy of mindfulness all day long.

Also, I think one thing that kept me in a negative state of mind was dwelling in a lot of self-judgement about myself in general, but also my practice. I felt disappointed in myself that my practice wasn’t going as well as it had been at other points in my life. I was also overwhelmed by self-judgement and -criticism about myself in general, and I didn’t feel like I had the ability or skill to overcome it, that it had just become my personality, who I was. Now I am determined to steadily, gently, day-by-day become more aware of self-judgement and criticism and work to transform it.

Gratitude is another thing I’m really noticing that has changed since I returned from the retreat. During the retreat, and since I got back, gratitude has started seeping into my daily life and filling me with such warmth and joy. Before the retreat, gratitude would drag me down and pull me into a negative state, where I felt that I was entitled to such basic things as a roof over my head and water to drink. Before, contemplating people in the world who don’t have the basic things that I have would have left me feeling guilty and miserable, and I wanted to avoid those negative thoughts.

I think this was also an example of feeling lazy, and not taking the effort to actively seek out the positive things in my life. I was holding onto the negative things and making them the most important thing in my life. Now I see that it will require some effort to be grateful and appreciate the good things in my life, even if at first inclination I don’t want to. I know that entitlement is not a good place for me to be in.

I remember a quote from Hand Wash Cold where she compares her life to her Zen priest robe, a delicate garment: Hand wash cold, more work than you’d like, but its worth it if you want to keep it.

Staying positive is more work than I would like to take care of my life, but its worth it if I want to keep it.

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