Against the odds, I feel great. Today is the 7th day of my covert solo retreat. I got up at 7 am and saw the sun rise (and tried to capture it). Then I went swimming for about an hour and during the day I sat for about 2,5 hours on my cushion. Yesterday I took it slow because I got sick on Saturday night. I think it is called an intestinal colic, I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know where it went. It was strange because Saturday I felt really nice and open. Initially I mistook the feeling in my stomach for being hungry. My little brother described it nicely: if feels as if someone with a giant fist squeezes a giant stone through your guts, inch by inch. To go shortly: it hurts.
I suffered from 10 pm till 1.30 pm the next day. I was moaning, didn’t know how to lie on my bed. It was really painful. And then it was over, miraculously enough. Almost in the middle of a moan I was like “huh? It’s gone. Breakfast anybody?” Although I was a bit weak I took my meditation cushion to the beach, sat for an hour, had a shorter swim and had a nice dinner afterwards.
You won’t believe this but when I looked in the mirror this morning I was satisfied with what I saw. I wouldn’t call it unconditional self-love but it beats self-criticism. My ascetic life style is paying off. I wonder if I am slowly moving towards self-compassion.
Doing many hours of meditation per day just feels magical. To be honest, when I just come of my cushion I can feel a bit grumpy or dissatisfied for a minute or so: again no big enlightenment experience. But then I look around and notice how spacious I feel and how quiet it is inside. I feel the warm sand between my toes and see the children playing in the sea. I go to the restaurant at the other end of the beach so I can walk under the stars and with the sea washing against my feet.
I have received some ‘critical feedback’. Some readers want me to be lighter or more cheerful. They wish I would see the ‘upside’ of my journey more. I don’t fully agree. I want to look in the difficult places; I want to look in the places people generally prefer to overlook. Because I trust I will get to a point where I polished the shit out of all the nooks and crannies and everything will be bright and shiny and I don’t need to pretend I am happy because I genuinely am. And I feel that is happening.
In my previous post I said something about how to ‘measure’ our personal or spiritual growth and that it is like grass: you can’t see it growing but at some point you realize it needs to be cut. I feel no temptation at all to pretend happiness to please some readers. In the past I might have gone into reactive mode (‘these people don’t understand anything!”). Now I don’t feel the need. I have no doubt about my direction. This is one of these moments where I realize “hey, the grass has grown”.
We often think that things should be different. We think it is not ok or not necessary to feel this or that. We actually should feel more so and so and others should do the same. We wish a safe and comfortable cocoon for ourselves and we wish a similar cocoon for our loved ones. It is no coincidence that people who like me to be lighter are looking for the lightness in themselves and try to escape their own heaviness. At the same time there are also people who resent the occasional lightness (“you make it look easy but it isn’t!”). These are the people who will always tell me they are doing great, no fantastic.
“The challenge of warriorship is to step out of the cocoon, to step into space by being brave and at the same time gentle. You can expose your flesh and wounds, your sore points.
Usually when you have a wound, you put a Band-Aid on until it heals. Then you take of the bandage and expose the healed flesh to the outside. In this case you expose an open wound, open flesh, unconditionally. You can be completely raw and exposed with your husband or your wife, your banker, your landlord, anyone you meet.
Out of that comes an extraordinary birth: the birth of the universal monarch. The (…) monarch is somebody who is very raw and sensitive, willing to open his or her heart to others. That is how you become a king or a queen, the ruler of your world. The way to rule the universe is to expose your heart so that others see your heart beating, see the red flesh and see the blood pulsating through the veins and arteries”
Chogyam Trungpa, Shambala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior
I have an agenda, you see, Right after I was born, when my father saw me for the first time, he said: “this will be the first world president”. This is why I expose my flesh and bones: I have to live up against the expectations of my father and rule the universe one day. 😉
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