My body arrived three days ago. Now my mind is slowly catching up. It´s still not fully
here, but catching up. Talk about being present! How often are we physically present, but our mind seems to be at an entire different place?! Now, escaping the world and going to a meditation retreat is an extreme scenario, which stresses this phenomenon – at least for me. At the entrance it says: “Come with empty hands, go with an empty mind.” I slowly start to grasp the full meaning of this sentence, as I feel how my mind is getting clearer with each day. My mind is still quite cloudy, but it is yet to fully arrive. Even recognizing the clouds in your head is quite eye-opening. Last night our teacher talked about the difficulty of being content with doing nothing, as our minds are used to being constantly entertained and busy and seeking some sort of pleasure. If he said that to me three days ago, I would have smiled at him, foolishly claiming that this doesn´t apply to me, as I don´t really feel addicted to any materialistic or non-materialistic pleasures, plus I really enjoy being with myself. After all that´s how I recharge my batteries. Then he probably would have compassionately smiled back at me knowing that his words only make sense to the one who has truly experienced the act of doing nothing, which is very distinct to being with yourself. And if we are honest to ourselves, really doing nothing is something that has become increasingly lost in our constantly connected busy world. So what has changed in the last three days that I can now relate to his words? First of all, I love being busy. I have tons of interests. When I had a 50 hour working week, the toughest question was always how to prioritize my interests and sort out what I don´t have time for at the moment. Of course I did have a lot of me-time. But when I actually did have time for myself, I used that time for cooking, cleaning, listening to music or a podcast, reading news, in rare cases a book or if I was feeling beat, I was logging into Netflix. I was constantly busy. I can´t remember one time where I just sat down on a bench in a park and allowed my thoughts to wander while listening to birds singing and looking at children playing. And now we´re traveling. Everything changed, except the busyness. This might be quite hard to believe for anyone in a full-time job and I probably wouldn´t have believed it either if someone told me that a year ago. However, for the past nearly nine months we were constantly on the move or busy working on a farm, with the exception of a couple of weeks in Pakistan where we stayed at one place, literally doing nothing, because we were so exhausted from traveling. Constantly changing environments, people, beds, culture, food, language, social norms… no consistency or routine whatsoever. All of this is not an insight by itself. We are aware of it and we both agreed that we would spend the next few months in southern India with more routine and less change, as far as possible. What´s new about these observations, at least for me, is the realization that my mind has gotten so used to constantly receiving different kinds of stimuli that it simply has a hard time dealing with doing nothing and just resting. And it must have lost that ability a long time ago. Good thing I´m here I guess! After the first day, being confronted with doing nothing and just being with myself without any possibility to distract myself, exhausted me so much that my mind was coming up with all kinds of clever reasons why it would be better to just leave. Of course I´m not really considering leaving. After all I know where this voice is coming from and I´m generally not a quitter. But it was startling to making myself aware of the different voices inside of me. So I let my heart have the final word. Directed at my mind it said: “If being in this natural oasis of peace and calmness is really so exhausting for you, then being here is just what you need.”
So now I´m sitting here, trying to meditate, watching my breath, trying to ignore and accept all the weird thoughts in my head, not allowing my mind spinning any funny stories out of it and trying to overcome the pain in my body of sitting still with the power of my mind, wondering if the others are dealing with similar challenges.