One week post-retreat

John B, modified 7 Years ago at 6/20/16 4:11 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/20/16 4:11 PM

One week post-retreat

Posts: 69 Join Date: 6/16/16 Recent Posts
I just returned home a little over a week ago from my first retreat (10-day Goenka), and have found that building up a fair amount of equanimity with unpleasant and pleasant sensations have helped me in a lot of the day-to-day activities. I felt that focusing on equanimity for the first time in my practice during body scanning helped me progress in the path of insight finally, and some of those changes in my thinking and behavior that I was watching out for the last two years of my daily practice that didn't really seem to come have actually started showing up. I wanted to write a post on it while I still have some excitement for the changes that took place and I haven't fully gotten used to them. And whenever I needed a reason to continue a meditation practice over the last decade or so I would usually read about the benefits, so I know it can be motivating to see how other people are affected by their practice.

One of the biggest changes that I noticed on the retreat and was able to act on when returning home was noticing undue pressure I put on my wife to be perfect, or to act how I wanted her to. I am a perfectionist and have dealt with it my whole life, but was finally able to loosen my incessant need to control and avoid any uncomfortable/negative situations. It was a huge relief to communicate some of those things to my wife. It still takes effort to put it into practice during the day - helps a lot to notice impermance somewhere in the body during the day, sort of a constant reminder of what I am trying to practice on both a basic and apparant level. The lack of pressure manifested itself in my need to control money, in that I was more willing to buy some nicer things for groceries, and suddenly realized we should take a trip to disney world and make it work despite being broke students because it is my wife's dream, and when telling her, seeing all the frustration she had being expressed like - 'this is what I was trying to tell you for the past three years!' I found how that control was manifesting itself in terms of my career as well, in that now I feel more open about working in more flexible ways in my profession, and not quite as hard and fast in my goals to accomplish exactly what I set out to do these last few years.

I have been less moody since returning home. Typically when I'm tired, and most mornings and late evenings, I tend to like to be completely to myself and will be short with people who are close to me. After becoming very familiar and somewhat equanimous with sensations of tiredness, fatigue, and frustration on the retreat, I felt even at that time that it may have an impact on me post-retreat. So far I am much more pleasant in the mornings because I am not as tired then (since I wake up earlier to do my longer sit for the day), and now when I am tired, I am just tired. I am more quiet, but when I have to interact in someway there isn't as much anger or resistance involved.

Speaking of resistance, I've been excited to get to work, because I'm able to notice my internal resistance to it better, and either just ignore it, or observe it and it doesn't bother me as much as before. I am much more likely to get stuff done and work on things I would normally have thought were 'unfair' or when I would have stopped much earlier because it was 'enough' for the day. I would have usually channeled those feelings towards the nearest/easiest target, which is my wife, but now I recognize the sensations when they do arise, although my general resistance towards working has decreased so there is less of that to observe in general. It's been nice that my wife has noticed some of these positive changes as well, and she also noticed the day I was working through the stage of disgust due to my bad breath and hating her all of a sudden, which I made some quick adjustments when realizing I was unexpectedly back in the dark night.

In general I am an approachable, extroverted person, but I wanted to outline some of my personality expressed by impatience or anger, and despite knowing many of these flaws for many years, hadn't changed them until now, dealing with them in a much wiser way. I have plenty of pride and ego-ism to work on for a lifetime, but it's nice to finally chip away at it.

In terms of non-reactivity, it's been a little hit and miss. When my wife almost ran our car into a median going 70 mph I definitely reacted to my fear, but came down from it in a reasonable amount of time. A couple days ago, when about 8 lbs of chicken caught on fire on a grill all at the same time, I was able to remain calm while asking the customer service rep at disney world my questions and quickly find a solution to the fire before the grill exploded, with minimal burns to my hand.

Some other changes I've noticed deal with my sex life, an openness and confidence in discussing a lot of gray areas between christianity/buddhism/my meditation practice with others who have strong opinions about at least one of those, and a little less of the search for getting rid of that low level irritability/anxiety/unsatisfactoriness that has been around for awhile, certainly through graduate school anyways, because I feel like I have a working solution now. I've also had a couple spontaneous moments of gratitude in regards to Goenka and the reatreat experience, and with other people who have been helped me out. I had been stressing about the relationship with my dad for a couple of months, and about halfway through the retreat, I had some changes in attitude and came up with some solutions then, and have been able to be more proactive in creating the kind of relationship that I want.

All that being said, I've been home for a very short amount of time, but excited to see how the depth of my vipassana practice will affect my life in the long term. I'm new to posting here but have found a lot of help and solutions for the beginning of my meditation journey. I'm excited to contribute something now, although the vulnerability factor is certainly present. It just seems like being open, not only about my practice but about the results, is natural and hopefully beneficial.
shargrol, modified 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 6:04 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 6:04 AM

RE: One week post-retreat

Posts: 2298 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Another great post. Thanks for "testifying" John! emoticon
John B, modified 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 8:11 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 8:11 AM

RE: One week post-retreat

Posts: 69 Join Date: 6/16/16 Recent Posts
Ha, old habits die hard, I guess. Thanks.
C P M, modified 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 8:16 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/23/16 8:16 AM

RE: One week post-retreat

Posts: 218 Join Date: 5/23/13 Recent Posts
Yes, a great post. Thanks for the open and honest reporting. I like hearing about practical improvements from meditation such as this.