A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a silent meditation retreat for 5 days. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, I love silence and I found the retreat to be renewing, replenishing and rewarding.
I have practiced meditation for many years. Over time, I have been introduced to a multitude of techniques and methods which are all potentially supportive of entering a meditative state and experiencing a greater sense of Truth or Reality. Most of my practice has been in a style called vipassana from the Theravadan tradition. In this style, one is generally encouraged to focus on the breath or another sense object in order to begin to quiet the mind. The intention is to become more aware.
I have found that my practice has shifted and grown over time. Meditation has contributed immensely to helping me to be more calm, peaceful and happy. I have had a secret though; often when I meditate, I think! Now you may have heard or even believe that in meditation, your thoughts stop. And some schools of meditation do indeed encourage the meditator to direct the attention away from thoughts over and over in order to become more still.
It has always been interesting to me though to look at the thoughts. They are what IS happening in the moment and they give me great insight into MY reality which, I think, is ultimately helpful in understanding myself within any bigger reality.
So, imagine my surprise and delight when I met the teacher at this meditation retreat that I chose because the time was right…..and he said, “Don’t stop your thoughts!” His name is Jason Siff and he teaches what he calls ‘Recollective Awareness’. He is the first teacher that truly did not do anything to direct me away from my thoughts but rather gave me a container within which to go deeper with them. His book, “Unlearning Meditation” is a revelation and a gift. I felt validated and excited. No longer need I be concerned that maybe I am not meditating “right” (honestly, I didn’t worry about it much but in listening to many meditation teachers and meditators, one could get that impression..) and I have a new teacher to learn from to hone what has developed naturally on my own meditation cushion into greater insight.
Soon I will be sharing more of what I am exploring through regular sitting sessions at the studio. Hope to see you on the cushion in addition to on the mat!