Day 8 had been blissful, my meditation practice was in flow and I felt connected to my environment. However as is the nature of life, nothing lasts forever and so it was the very next day I found myself struggling to control my mind, over-exerting myself and enduring more pain than before. I had a laser focus, I was determined to sit in my chosen position without moving, during the hour long meditation sittings. I believed this was the way to learn.
Not to dissimilar to my ethos for life, having been brought up on the cultural and parental expectation that we must work hard to earn a living. It’s interesting don’t you think how this brule* (bullshit rule) doesn’t serve us, in fact it only serves to disempower us and blinker us to the prospect that we can be happy in work and life without having to endure pain.
The lesson at the end of Day 9 was in how we cling to happiness and therefore how this can be just as destructive to our ability to control our mindset as is the focus on the negative. The Vipassana technique talks to being equanimous and as had been the case with each passing day, the teaching and review of what we were learning at the end of each evening was the timely reminder of the experience I was going through. The day previous I was in bliss and had become attached to this feeling, which led me to feeling disappointment in not being able to achieve bliss again in the following day. I’m particularly prone to seeking out positivity, ever the optimist but it became clear to me that this has at times clouded my judgement and led me to feeling more disappointment at points throughout my life.
Khao Lak – Takua Pa District, Thailand 2011kK
The expectation of happy families for one… At two years of age (so I was told) my mother left me, left Australia and went back to Thailand to be with her family, having struggled to make this place her home. I don’t believe my Dad put up much of a fight although he made it clear I wasn’t going with her. For the next 24 years of my life I had no idea where my mother was, other than in Thailand, until one day I got the call – they’d found her. My expectations were high, I was finally going to meet my mother (having no memory of her because I was so young when she left). Optimistic of our future together, with gifts in hand and a presumption in my heart that I wanted to support her financially because it was the right thing to do, I flew to Thailand to meet her and my half brother and sister.
The reality though is that there’s nothing quite as crushing as the level of expectation… I have always believed that because my expectations have been positive, optimistic and therefore have intentions that will provide a ‘brighter future’ that somehow they deserved to come true. That’s not equanimity though is it, in fact it’s a level of expectation I hadn’t really been willing to face before. Who me?? I don’t have expectations – it was as if just because my thoughts were focussed on the positive, on the optimistic point of view, that those thoughts weren’t expectations at all. What’s that saying ‘rose coloured glasses…’
Since I was a young child I can’t tell you where I got the philosophy but I was vocal in my belief that both heaven and hell existed not in the after-life but here on earth. We were born (without choice) into one, the other or somewhere in between but what I have since actively sought, is to find out if we have since that birth, the option to be reborn in our own image, defined by our own drive and purpose. That I now believe is true, not because I have my rose coloured glasses on but for the first time I have taken them off and want to see all the world as it is, not just how I want it to be. The difficulty of this choice is that I am not always happy, I am what I perceived as withdrawn, solemn, introspective or some other adjective that describes the opposite of optimistic. Yet the reality though is I’m content, I am an evolutionary woman unfolding and discovering the next stage of life.
Evolution is a process of continuous branching and diversification from common trunks. This pattern of irreversible separation gives life’s history its basic directionality.
— Stephen Jay Gould
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