This too shall pass!

Vipassana meditation is one of the oldest meditation technique of India.

Vipassana literally means to see things as they are in reality.

It is a process of self purification by self observation.

 

So there I was with uncertain health and the life I knew destroyed by MS.

I decided it was the perfect time to try again a silent 10 days’ meditation retreat.

 

That was my first meditation marathon!

This time I went an hour away from Montreal to the Goenka Vipassana meditation center https://www.suttama.dhamma.org/.

 

We would wake up at 4h in the morning to begin our first meditation.

We would meditate for more than ten hours every day.

We were not allowed to talk or read or write.

We were not allowed to do any physical exercise.

We ate very little.

 

This time I was able to sit in meditation for hours everyday.

It was everything but easy!

It was painful at times in my body.

It was boring at other times.

It made me sleepy sometimes.

 

It was also fascinating to spend so much time just observing.

Nothing external could distract me.

I could observe all my internal distractions! And they were unending!

 

This is the perfect place to practice just being!

 

I experienced the first of the three universal truth of life: impermanence. Experiencing this truth was one of the most valuable lessons of my life.

Just sitting still, trying to watch my breath, as the air goes in and out of my nose. I could observe how everything in my field of awareness is constantly changing.

 

Sensations in my body change from one moment to the next.

Emotions flow through me like the waves in the see.

Thoughts come and go at an amazing speed like the clouds in the sky.

Everything is changing. Only my awareness remains unchanging.

I am the observer of all the phenomena that constantly arise and fall away.

 

I came back home with a new mantra to put on my wall: “This too shall pass”.

If something unpleasant is arising, rest assured that his too shall pass! So relax!

If something pleasant is arising, just the same, rest assured that this too shall pass! So relax and enjoy!

 

This teaches us to go beyond duality!

It helps us to develop equanimity: the ability to be with something whatever it is, the ability to go beyond the mental labels of good or bad.

It helps us welcome whatever appears.

 

“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind.

To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all,” Buddha teaches us.

 

This was the beginning of meeting myself, the beginning of getting to know myself.

 

Do you ever spend some time getting to know your precious self? 💜

Sense of identity

Who am I?

 

My second relapse of MS clearly affected my cognitive abilities.

This time my memory was severely affected.

This left me unable to do my usual work. All my actuarial knowledge had been deleted from my memory!

This is when I knew that the life I knew had ended!

There was no more room for denial!

 

I had to stop working.

This was devastating to me for many many years!

I was really faced with what I was identifying myself with?

 

What we identify ourselves with consists of an endless list.

 

Who am I?

Am I my name?

Am I the daughter of this woman and this man?

Am I the friend of this person and that person?

Am I the wife of this man?

Am I a mother (ok that one does not apply to me: I don’t have kids)?

Am I my body?

Am I a woman?

Am I a Canadian or a Mauritanian?

Am I my thoughts and beliefs?

Am I the voice in my head?

Am I the emotion I am feeling right now?

Am I an emotion I memorized that is stored in my body?

Am I the story of my life?

Am I a disease or diagnosis?

And above all for me in this instance: am I my job?

Am I my title?

Am I my role?

Am I what I do?

Am I what I have?

Who am I beyond all those identities?

 

For many years I suffered from the loss of my identification with my job!

For so long I did not know who I was!

 

Through meditation, through education, through self-enquiry, self-reflection and self-study, I connected with the simple but profound joy of being!

 

I discovered that I did not need any identification to exist.

 

I AM.

 

Just BEING is enough. I exist. That in itself is the miracle!

I started to feel grateful for the miracle of being alive!

 

From this, anything can be added.

I discovered a whole new way of life.

I use to want to have, then do, to finally maybe be.

Now I am learning to BE first, then DO, finally HAVE, even GIVE.

 

Who are you? What do you identify yourself with? 💜

What is meditation?

It is harder to understand our true nature as an infinite spiritual being of the universe with our intellect.

It is easier when experienced.

The best way to experience it is through meditation.

But what is meditation anyway?

Meditation is mind training. Simple, but not easy!

It is a practice to get to know our own thinking mind and to know we are not it.

We are the space between our thoughts, the awareness, the observer of our thoughts.

This first thing we discover is that our mind is ever moving, like the ocean!

It is always in the past or future!

It is full of distractions!

A common name for our mind is monkey mind! We all have a monkey mind!

We need to train our mind so it becomes our servant instead of our master, as Osho said!

The mind exists as a servant of the soul, as Yogi Bhajan said!

It can seem like the most difficult, most boring, most impossible thing to do at first!

It certainly felt that way for me the very first time I attempted such a practice!

I will remember always!!

I was the most unhappy person I knew back then.

I thought if I could only get to know my mind, it would solve all my imagined problems.

So I went all the way to Thailand to a monastery for a 10 days meditation retreat.

The day after I arrived I left the monastery because this meditation practice was the hardest, most difficult, most boring, most impossible thing I ever attempted!! I felt devastated!!

That was quite a radical way to approach this ancient and now scientifically proven practice.

There is a more gentle and gradual way to learn to meditate.

No need to go to the other side of the world to do so.

We can learn meditation right here, right now.

Before meditation, there is concentration.

There are many ways to develop our concentration. I started learning this way:

  • Start in a comfortable position, sitting on the floor or in a chair
  • Close your eyes
  • Keep your spine straight and your body relaxed
  • Start by mentally counting your breath from 1 to 10:
  • Inhale mentally repeating 1, Exhale mentally repeating 1
  • Inhale mentally repeating 2, Exhale mentally repeating 2
  • And so forth all the way up to 10.
  • Then count back down from 10 to 1:
  • Inhale mentally repeating 10, Exhale mentally repeating 10
  • Inhale mentally repeating 9, Exhale mentally repeating 9
  • And so forth all the way down to 1.
  • If you get lost in your count, and you will, perfect, you are normal, no judgment, start over from the beginning
  • This is the process of training your mind
  • Repeat this process. It gets easier with a daily practice. It also gets fun and it is very relaxing!

Are you normal? Do you have a monkey mind? Lovely 💜