Week 5 - Integrating Meditation into your Life

This week’s topic was about integrating your meditation practice into everyday life.  The point is not to be better at meditation, but to be more awake in our daily lives.  Jack spoke of a “greatness of heart,” that we need to search within our own hearts for the answers we’re seeking.  He said that through our practice we develop four divine qualities:  Lovingkindness, compassion, joy and equanimity and talked about their near-enemies.

This is the text of the poem mentioned during class:

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

- Jelalunddin Rumi, 13th century sufi, persian poet.

Here are the questions and practices for this week.  Please feel free to comment below about your practice or pose any questions you have to the community. 

Questions

1. Did anyone experience "side effects" during this meditation or in the past? Describe the experience.

2. What labels do you use to describe yourself? Give examples of labels used to describe the external (male/female, job, married/single, parent, etc.). Give examples of internal labels (compassionate, loving, angry, impatient, judgmental, etc.). Which do you tend to listen to the most or put the most energy into cultivating?

3. A retreatant relayed a story about being too tired to sit, deciding to rest. Jack responded that his decision to rest was a wise one.  What kind of expectations do you put on your meditation practice, if any?

Practices

1. Bring special awareness to "side effects" during meditation this week, observe the ebb and flow of these experiences. Suggestion: Prior to meditation, jot down a few words describing mood, thought patterns, and physical sensations in that moment. After meditation, jot down a few words describing mood, thought patterns, and physical sensations. Are there any differences? Do any correlations exist between particular moods, thought patterns, and physical sensation? If so, what are they?

2. If suffering is solved in the heart …, over the next week notice times when you act from places of the heart. For example: using right view, speech and action, responding with wisdom and compassion (especially when it is really difficult!). And notice times when you may have acted from fear or anger. Please do this practice without judgment, but with self-compassion, curiosity and humor. We are all human!

3. Practice walking meditation during every day activities. Try this exercise. Park a little further away from your destination than normal. Upon exiting the vehicle, stop for a moment, take a breath saying to yourself "I Am Here in this Moment." While walking, slow down. Enjoy the walk, notice your surroundings, notice if you are lost in thought, notice your feelings. Without judgment. As you walk, feel each step as your feet touch the earth.  Each step is your destination. Maybe smile just a little.