Encouragement to bring awareness towards taking from the retreat that which what will continue to nourish you, to integrate even more into your life, as a field of protection. This way of practice will take care of you.
An automatic quality can take over as we practice. It happens when we retain the past: I am this, I had this experience, I want to have another experience… Instead we can arise and awaken into this body even when it’s not so comfortable and bright. Receive everything as a gift, as something new. Access what’s beautiful now.
The Buddha taught pleasure. When the mind feels safe and comforted, it doesn’t crave. It loses its fear and regret. This is pleasant. Sila helps us practice this skill of turning things to the subtle pleasure of releasing stress and pressure. We stop creating the boundary of self and other that prevents unification. To others as to myself.
As we meditate, we might find ourselves dropping through layers of experience. Bits that are stuck and not yet resolved keep getting triggered. What we thought was past keeps coming in – people, places, events – and it’s happening now. But there is something that doesn’t move forward in time, a foundational experience of just being present. From this place of primary embodiment, where citta meets the body, we can begin to release the layers of construction that bind us.
One aspect of the inner critic is the constant commentator. It shamelessly criticizes you regardless of what you do or don’t do; you will never get it right. Like the story of the demons who visit the home of Sakka, the way we relate to our inner demons is to relate to them with kindness. Without resistance and negative emotions, they will shrink away.
Beyond the visual and sensory experiences of body, there is a felt sense that is our center. Life keeps pushing other things to the center – sights, sounds, attitudes, views and opinions – but these are only the center of our suffering, not the true center. From the true center, primary sympathy becomes available to meet suffering.
We can know the body directly, using tactile sense and contact impressions. Step by step we can build the specific body with what is actually present, discerning the center, and placing with specificity. The act of placing is sacred.
Where to put the focus in standing/walking meditation; what is meant by awareness/mindfulness/citta; conditioned/unconditioned, kamma and the choice; awakening and healing; goodwill and discernment/embodied goodwill