I signed up for my first 12-day meditation retreat in 2001, and then I dropped out two weeks before the start date. I never drop out of anything. Eighteen months later, I signed up again. This time, I was ready.
It was exactly as you might suspect: a room full of people sitting on cushions—not speaking, not moving—for days at a time. There were no chanting nor prayers, no incense nor gurus. It wasn’t that kind of place. The instructional aspect of the course could easily be summarized in three words: sit, observe, accept.
Within 15 minutes of my arrival, I realized I’d entered a special kind of hell also known as my own head. I sat, and sat, and sat, and sat some more.
On the fourth day, someone sneezed in the meditation hall, and I nearly had a heart attack. By the seventh day, I was convinced I could see through my eyelids. The room remained unchanged for the past week, so for all intents and purposes, I really could see through my eyelids. Open or closed, everything was the same.
The guy next to me stank of mold and armpits. The person in front of me would groan and convulse in discomfort every 15 minutes. At least, I thought, he was suffering more than me. By the end of day eight, I’d re-lived every single unfinished conversation of my life, from the big ones to the most mundane encounters you could imagine. My own mental archives embarrassed me. They were (and are) so petty. On day 12, when we could finally speak again, I had nothing to say. I was hungry and horny; exhausted and thoughtful.
This was my introduction to meditation, and while I wish I could say it was smooth sailing since then, I find it more and more challenging every year; and oddly, the more I struggle, the more benefits I experience. There seems to be an inverse relationship between struggle in meditation and my happiness.
My guest on this week’s show is a meditator, teacher, author, and speaker. I’m a novice, he’s a pro. I think you’ll learn a lot from our discussion.
Listen & Learn:
- How spirituality is about a personal practice of inner transformation
- Why mindfulness means to “remember to wake up” or experience the self in the present moment
- How Jewish culture of suffering, knowledge, and self-inquiry resonates with Buddhist teachings
- Why suffering is an inevitable part of life
- Weapons of peace
Links & Resources:
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Stephen Fulder, Ph.D., is a spiritual teacher, author, and founder of the Israel Insight Society (Tovana). He has been teaching Buddhist teachings and meditation practice to thousands of people over the last 20 years. He has 40 years of Vipassana/Mindfulness meditation and dharma practice and Buddhist studies.
Nutritional Tip of the Week:
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