Well, the ten day silent, solitary retreat is over. It was amazing.
Ten days alone with my mind...oooohhhhh....I have to say I learned so much.
The meditations I did (4 per day - each 45 min to an hour long) are designed for practitioners to have direct realizations of yoga's teachings. They are analytical meditations taken from the classic "Lamrim" teachings, the mastering of which are prerequisites to practicing the highest yoga Tantra. These profound meditations are surprisingly not very well known, mostly because they were just translated from Sanskrit to English in the 1990s.
My teacher helped me choose two types of meditations to focus on during these 10 days. One type is to realize the true nature of reality, especially, the true nature of one's mind. We have all heard that everything comes from our minds, but, I honestly did not realize how true this is until this retreat. While being alone and meditating so intensely, the dream and waking state became blurred. It was the first time I understood how the waking life and dream life are similar in that it is all coming from our minds. And, through these very intricate meditations, I realized how indeed everything - our world and our experience of the world - every object, person, situation - comes entirely from our minds. We must fill our minds with beautiful thoughts to experience a beautiful world. It's really simply and absolutely how things work. The greatest challenge is to maintain loving thoughts in our minds in the midst of any and every situation. And, the Lamrim is so perfect and brilliant that it has a set of meditations that help us to do just that.
The second type of meditation I did was to simply cultivate a heart/mind (in Yoga scriptures there is no difference between the heart and mind), that loves all beings - even beings that appear to hurt us. Since it is all coming from us, how can we think ill of anyone? There is no one "out there" loving us or hurting us - it is all coming from our mind's mental images, stored from our past actions. If we hurt people in our past, we project a person out there that is hurting us. The truth is that every person is empty of any qualities. Our minds give people and objects and events qualities based on our own projections which come from the way we have treated others in the past. So, if we perceive a person out there that is hurting us, it is more the reason to love them and transform the mental images in our minds to see a loving world.
All these philosophical truths we can read in books for lifetimes, but, there is something about letting the truths come to you directly from the emptiness of your mind. When you experience such truths directly, there is a shift in your subtle body and this shift allows you to carry the teachings with you into your life and actually remain aware of them in the most difficult situations. And, if we can stay loving, kind, patient, generous, joyous all the time, then we can maintain beautiful thoughts in our minds and we will experience a beautiful world.
It is not easy. But, the good news is we have the teachings to cultivate such a way of being. It entails discipline and practice, but, the path is the path of bliss. The result is bliss and the path is blissful. I am so grateful to be on it.
We are so lucky as a humanity. We have every teaching available to get us out of samsara; cyclic existence of the ups and downs of life. We have every teaching available to get us out of that cycle and move us into an upward spiral of bliss and more bliss until all there exists is bliss, permanently.
Yoga asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, scriptural studies...can transform our body into pure light. We can cultivate the ability to move across time and space and help and love every being in infinite ways. We can heal our hearts completely and not only end pain but end death. This is not a fantasy. This is not a fairy tale. This is as real as your very breath.