Thursday last week, I returned home after a 7-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat at Spirit Rock. Our day started with a bell of awakening at 6:00 am and our first sit in the meditation hall started at 6:30. Our last sit in the meditation hall ended at 9:30 pm. All told, we spent about 7 hours in seated meditation and 4 hours in walking meditation every single day.
When I started meditating 26 years ago, I was warned many times – they warned me – about how challenging… demanding… grueling silent retreats can be.
Science tells us that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. That is 1.25 thoughts a second. They also tell us that 98% of those thoughts are on a repeating cycle.
Now, after the warnings came, I didn’t think about silent retreats every day. In fact, when the kids were younger I probably didn’t think about them at all for years at a time. But, when I did think about them, how many positive thoughts do you think I had in those 26 years? Not many.
Both from decades of Buddhist training and from my work in behavioral finance, I absolutely know that my thoughts create a veil over reality.
The more time I spend sitting, the more I begin to see where my thoughts come from, how they arise, why they arise, and the better I am able to decide which thoughts deserve my attention and which I should let go.
My FEAR of the retreat was unnecessary. There is a LOT in that 98% that is just stupid, bullshit noise.
Meditation, especially a committed silent retreat, can begin to lift the veil from my reality. I am already looking forward to my next retreat in a continued effort to deepen my own practice.
You can totally change your world by changing your beliefs and your thoughts.
Gandhi said it,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
This is, of course, not an easy thing in our go-go-go, get-ahead, multi-tasking world.
Even Einstein knew the importance of focused attention. He said,
“If you can drive safely while you are kissing a girl; you are simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
During the approaching holiday season, may you give the kiss (or whatever that important thing is in your life) the attention it deserves.
If you don’t know what that important thing is for you – the thing that deserves your attention the most, here is a poem about meaningful purpose (read slowly - take it in):
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing
in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
-- Martha Postlethwaite
This might be the best, most difficult advice ever given.
Don’t do the hard thing
Just sit quietly and patiently
The Song Of Your Life will arrive
You will know it
You will know what to do
Or, if you need a little more help getting to the bottom of what matters for you, take our Values, Purpose, & Goals course. It’s Free.
There is nothing more powerful in the world that an individual with a true purpose.
May you find your purpose.
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