About 10 years ago I sat my first Vipassana meditation – 10 days of silence – no reading, no writing, no talking, no eye contact with anyone. Simply wake up and meditate for 10 to 12 hours a day with breaks for breakfast and lunch and a cup of tea for dinner. It was most certainly a life changing experience of which I am forever grateful so much so that I went back again and again.
During a 10-day Vipassana course you are taught to observe the sensations all over the body with awareness and equanimity. This “equanimity” means observing sensations without craving for pleasant sensations and without aversion for unpleasant sensations. (For example, after a few hours of sitting on your butt, pain may become present in your back.) The idea behind this is that “nothing is permanent” so to learn the art of equanimity will essentially prevent misery from arising. All those feelings throughout the body, whether they be pleasant of painful, will pass in time; and by practicing this idea of equanimity throughout the body helps us to apply it to day-to-day life. That is, to not have cravings or aversions for any external things in our life so that we don’t set ourselves up for misery and disappointment. This idea also helps us to remain in the present moment so that we’re not living in the past or hoping what the future may or may not hold.
I must confess, the idea of equanimity has been a challenging one for me to grasp. The thought that kept consuming me was “if we don’t crave the good stuff then aren’t we just being apathetic and not enjoying the good stuff?”
Well, today, after 10 years of contemplation and perseverance, the penny has finally dropped. This morning I was faced with the devastating event of my dog dying in my arms as I was desperately trying to get to the vet in time to somehow save her. The reality is that there was no way she could have survived the broken neck, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of not trying and kept begging for life to remain within her. After hours of tears and questioning to the universe why this happened I consulted a dear friend of mine who somehow always seems to know the “right” thing to say.
He once again reminded me about the concept of equanimity and to have gratitude for the time that I did get to share with my gorgeous puppy and the joy that she brought to my life and the love that I was able to give to her. So as I sit here and type I have finally made peace with the concept of not craving for the “good stuff” to last forever, and the “bad stuff” to go away instantly; and that I must remain completely present and truly experience life whilst it is here and now and not look in to the future and hope that it always remains because as is always the case… nothing is permanent.
This can be applied to so many areas of our life, for example, relationships. Why do we immediately think it is terrible if a relationship comes to an end? Craving for that relationship to get back together. Maybe some relationships are meant to be for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, and maybe other relationships will last for many years or lifetimes. Why not be grateful for the very fact that you got to experience the joy of that relationship? And more so, it’s also a great reminder to remain present in the relationship every moment and every day and to truly be grateful for the loved ones that you currently have in your life right now. People and situations change. What is the case today, may not be the case tomorrow.
So, my ritual for the month of November which I invite you to experience with me, is to be grateful for what you have right now, and give up all the cravings and aversions. Be present. Be gracious. Be aware. Be loving. Be you.
BE TALKED ABOUT
Madison magazine features Be Genki’s Sam Sample in the December 2010 issue.
“How do you make it through the festive season without it affecting your waistline? Three girls-about-town tell us.
Sam Sample, Founder of Be Genki
~ I avoid as many late nights as I can – there’s no need to say ‘yes’ to everything.
~ Before I got to a party I eat a healthy meal so that I’m not tempted to binge on canapes or stop off for junk food on the way home. I find that miso-based soup is best for this – I throw in tofu, seaweed, mushrooms and bok choy. Because it’s protein packed, it’s filling, plus it won’t leave you bloated, which is never a great look in your party frock.
~ I make iced herbal teas by brewing pots of my favourite teas and then pouring over ice. Don’t forget that non-caffeinated herbal teas also count towards your water intake for the day.
This is the Be Genki November Ritual. To subscribe so that you receive similar rituals delivered to your inbox at the beginning of every month please click here: http://www.begenki.com/connected.html