7 days of meditation starting off with a 15 hour busride (bus meditation?)
Uzin our leader and teacher took us in one bus and another driver took the 2nd bus. Unfortunately the 2nd bus broke down on the way and he had to drive back 3 hours each way to pick everyone up! Fortunately our bus had enough good karma on it that we made it okay, with the exception of changing a flat tire.
Arriving around 5am, we tried to get a little sleep before the breakfast bell rang maybe 2 hours later. The first day was more of a half day mixed between rest and waiting for the 2nd bus.
The rest of the days we followed this schedule:
4:00 Wake up gong
4:30-6:00 Reciting the 8 precepts and whole group meditation
7:00-8:00 Walking meditation
9:00-11:00 Dhamma talks/Meditation with Uzin (Separate English group)
1:30-3:30 Dhamma talks/Meditation with Soe Win Htut (Separate English group)
4:00-5:00 Walking meditation
6:00-8:00 Whole group Dhamma talks and meditation
And early to bed!!!
This was the first time I really tried meditation apart from a few session jn yoga workshops, and it was so difficult! Not only do you have to be mindful of your thoughts (and of course all those thoughts you avoid and distract yourself from come flooding in), but not moving for the whole time is another thing! Pain in the legs, the random itch, or flies landing in your eyelid also must have no reaction.
Fortunately with practice it gets easier. All those thoughts come and go -they say it will be impossible to just have a clear mind at the beginning but you should just be mindful of what comes, not rejecting nor grasping them. If you can push past the early twitches and urges to move, they go away too. If you succumb to the desire, another one will pop up again and it is harder to ignore.
Uzin had some wonderful guidance through the meditation. Let it be. Be mindful. If you can’t deal with the flies, how will you ever become enlightened. Even if a snake comes and bites you, hold on, don’t give up. Whatever, whatever, let it be. Even if you die, don’t give up. There are others older than you, younger than you, more experienced and less experienced. You are not the only one.
There is more related to Buddhism wisdom and the 4 noble truths and the cyxle of suffering from creative truth, but I won’t explain it well here (it took us hours to wrap our own heads around some of the explanations in person), but if you want to learn more, there are lots of talks and information on the website: http://www.ThabarwaRatana.org.
5 of us foreigners went through the whole week and I think we all came out better from it. The trick is carrying on with meditation and that mindfulness and applying it to the rest of life’s turbulence.
Other parts of the retreat were fantastic! We made some more local friends with the meditators and nuns and the food was AMAZING. So many delicious and healthy dishes that we graciously devoured. As a parting gift, we pooled some money as a donation and one of the other guys with us actually made a beautiful painting of the Shwe Chaun center to present to them.
Most people headed back down to Yangon area and the Thabarwa Center in Thanlyin but we decided to stay in the north for our own adventuring.
So next, part 2 of my Myanmar trip = tourism!