Last July, I had the good fortune to sit an 18-day meditation retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, California. Often as I prepare to embark on retreat, friends will comment that sitting in silence for several weeks sounds relaxing. As anyone who has endured multiple days of uninterrupted sitting and walking meditation practice knows, it’s not a trip to the beach.
There are a few things that run rampant this time of year: top ten lists, post-Christmas/end of year sales, and of course New Year's Resolutions.
Personally, I chafe at the term resolution. In years past, a resolution represented an expectation. When life invariably went a different way than my expectation, I became disenchanted with the whole notion of my resolution.
On every silent Insight Meditation retreat I’ve attended—at The Last Resort in Southern Utah, or at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California—meals have always been always been the most reliable source of daily pleasure. This is partially due to the expertise and caring of the people who plan and prepare the meals, which are always wholesome, flavorful and prepared with love.
Do you know the feeling of easefully sailing through life and then in the next moment feeling as if you are pushing against a strong head wind? A natural response to conflict or pain is Resistance; an instinctual desire to push away the difficulty or wanting to rid ourselves of the discomfort. Why? Because turning toward pain is a vulnerable process and if we don't have the tools (yet) to sooth the vulnerable part of ourselves we tend to push away from it. If we buy into the story that we will be swallowed up by our own vulnerability then we feed the resistant behavior. This familiar cycle to many of us leads to more pain and difficulty.