Mindfulness a day keeps dukkha away

Meant to blog this but never did and I have like 15 minutes so gonna do it now.

Part two of my trip (actually part 1) found me in West Virginia at the Bhavana Society. It’s a Buddhist monastery. 7 monastics (5 monks and 2 nuns) plus a couple of lay people lived there, as well as a handful of visitors like Catie and me. Every day went like this:
5:00-6:00: meditation
6:00-6:30: chanting
7:00-8:00: breakfast
8:00-11:00: chores/personal time
11:00-12:00: lunch
12:00-17:30: chores/personal time
17:30-18:30: meditation
18:30-19:00: chanting
19:00-20:00: talk/q&a

When I say “chores/personal time” I mean the chores usually took like a half hour then we had a lot of free time. I spent a lot of this time reading. I learned a lot about Buddhism. Particularly Theravada (not actually equivalent but sorta similar to Hinayana, which is the south-Asia half of Buddhism, where Mahayana is the north-Asia half) Buddhism and mindfulness (Vipassana) meditation.

In short, and only applied to me: meditation is the only thing missing from my life.
In medium length, and more generally, and poorly translated: Life is suffering. Desire causes this suffering. To escape suffering, you have to stop desiring. There’s an eightfold path that helps you avoid desiring, but mostly it translates into “be a good person” and also “be mindful.”

But really what it means to me is that I really need to meditate. Life is good! I am happy! But I worry. And I fret, and the more free time I have, the more I fret about whether I’m doing enough good with my free time, and that’s no way to be happy. Meditation will help me there.

I want to be clear, though, that when I talk about meditation, I don’t mean just concentration, like going into a trance. Sometimes meditation means that. But Vipassana meditation (like Zen, I think) is more than that: it’s concentration plus mindfulness. If I were really good at meditation, when I were meditating, I’d be totally concentrated on my breathing, but I’d also be totally aware of everything around me. It’s one of those concepts that you can’t really explain, even if you’re awesome at it, and I’m sure not, so I won’t try.

If you want to read more, though, and learn about what I’m all into right now, read this.

The end result is that I am now meditating daily. Eventually I will become better at meditating and at living life (because meditation is only “practice” for the “game” that is life). My “monkey mind” will calm down. That is nice.

(I’m throwing that out there because when I publicly proclaim things, I tend to do them. Like 90% vegetarianism (still good through 3 weeks) and not eating cereal (still good there too). Speaking of 90% vegetarianism, though, I might make a special reservation for travel. When I’m in a place, I want to try the food of that place, and I think that might be more important to me than vegetarianism, because it’s always for such short periods of time.)

And speaking of things in general, I’m going to San Francisco for 5 days, then Yosemite for 3, with my family. See you later!

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