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I started meditating after losing my first boyfriend suddenly in 93 at IMC USA here in Maryland.
Since then, I have done uncountable weekends whenever they have classes and quite a few full nine day courses. I got a job with a private group about 30 mins from them after finishing residency and that was 2006.
I'm very lucky to be local and been going there many times.
They start the retreat on a Friday evening. There is dinner. Soup/ bread/ salad etc. we start our first sitting Friday night for one hour and the teacher explain the rules. There s noble silence meaning no texting, reading, talking, watching tv etc so the mind is free from external stimuli.
We start early in the morning at 4:30. Some wake up at 4 and drink tea/ coffee but I get up at 4:25 and brush my teeth and go straight for sitting. I try to stick to the schedule . It s not bad since you can sleep at 9pm.
We sit from 430 to 530 then you can take a short break and come back and listen to the discourse at 6. At 6:30 we eat breakfast. Sometimes I help cleaning up after breakfast but you can rest till 8am. 8to 9 am is group sitting. The first five days we focus on samadhi or concentration to get one pointedness of mind.
You focus on the inbreath, the out breath and the touch of the breath. Your duty only is to keep the mind focus at one point. We do that first because without a calm mind , you cannot practice insight/ mindful meditation.
It is not easy since the mind will not want to stay and wonder all the time all over the world. Trust me. We are trying to change the habit of a lifetime ( or many life times) and the mind won’t stay focus.
And that is the reason why we go to a quiet center / place and train with a teacher who had done many courses.
9 to 9:30 is a break and at 9:30 there s checking in with all students. If there are many students, or if they are new and asks questions , it takes longer. I take a break at 10:10 to go to rest room and come back and sit till 11 am lunch time.
They have ample delicious vegan food.
I mostly help at lunch time to clean up so I can take a shower and wash my clothes with hands. I m so used to my routine now that I have been there many times. I have nobody to talk to so my mind sometimes become obsessed with washing the clothes.
Then I can take a break till 1pm and we sit again till 1:40. Then we take a break till 2. 2 to 3 is group sitting . At 3:30 there s checking only for new students. Some are brand new. Some had been to many other centers and are not new to meditation.
We have a pediatric er physician who drives up from South Carolina and come sit with us.
Then we can sit or relax till 5 pm and there s light dinner. Some keep eight precepts and only drink juice but I eat because I don’t want to be hungry and sit. I don’t help after dinner because I already taken a shower.
Discourse is at 6 pm and ends at 6:30. I usually take a walk. Then group sitting again at 7:30to 8:30 with the teacher. Then we can sleep.
So you see it s not horrible. I think there are many external stimuli at home. I can never sit for more than total of two to three hours at home. There s always tv to watch, chores to do.
The mind doesn’t and cannot get calm when it s noisy.
we change to wisdom /insight/ vipassana on Wednesday afternoon.
It is looking at bodily sensations as they arise and seeing the impermanence. If you see impermanence you will see life is suffering/(not in a depressing way but in a as it is way).
Our goal with meditation is also to realize that there s no self / person etc that way we are not attached too much to ourselves or loved ones.
I recommend doing the whole course in April/ May or October. The weather is nicer then. But some might like the hot weather. Hubby usually goes in august for ten days.
I usually keep my phone in the kitchen or the car. It s too tempting.
The course goes on till Monday morning but most people leave by Sunday after lunch. We talk again on Sunday.
For me it is a part of life. I want to do more but I have a full time job. I plan to slow things down later in life for I have worked in dog years.
some sittings are better and some might not be.
Sometimes you might be lazy/ sleepy/ day dreaming. It doesn’t matter . Your job is to just sit and calm the mind.
I will be going there next weekend early March. After that I go off for family med board review in March/ Baltimore. Yes it does help with work and studying even though I don’t need to take the test till 2025.
There is a bigger center IMC uk and they have more courses per year.
We do believe we are very lucky to be able to learn this practice . We can only practice it ourselves. No one can do it for us. Family cannot do it for us.
Our mind always react to something and make stories. If you see something you like on tv you might say I want to eat that pizza too. If you dislike something you get mad thus creating karmic results .
I can be a very self absorbed/ angry person at times. So it does work for me. It is also a very good therapy. I lost my first boyfriend due to aneurysm suddenly. My second boyfriend in med school left me, in 1997never even picked up the phone to check and see how I might be doing. That was very painful, very dark/ depressing time/ going thru school and residency many ups and downs.
May Be I have done something in my past life to deserve this. But in retrospect because of that I focus more on meditation and doing good things. I never dated anyone till I met my current husband and we married within six months. That was in 2007.
Can you meditate to gain wealth, power etc ? May be. But if you truly meditate you won’t be greedy , angry, hateful much anymore. I came to the US at age 17 from Burma. Parents are educated but we struggled.
Today I have two homes ( I still keep the townhouse to be near work on days that I work late.) a good job, Parents still alive, still heathy despite working many hours.
Meditation is the best form of good deed but there is a prerequisite and that s sila or morality. That s the foundation. Not killing, not stealing, not lying/ cursing/ no adultey/ not taking alcohol or drugs are needed to get a calm mind. That is also why we go to a center to sit.
It is like eating sugar. You can be from any race/ religion/ background - you ll still taste sugar. Of course everyone s different and some might do better than others.
I never sit leaning the wall because I might become dependent and lazy. But I think it s ok to lean if you have back issues.
Some elderly sit in the chair. I have cushions to sit and I take my own shawls/ blankets to wrap myself in.
Well I should stop now. Do I think it ll help with one s health? Absolutely.
If you want to read one book only about meditation “ be an island” is the one to read. It s very compact . You might have to pay lots of attention. But worth it.
I will read the frantic world book and will let you know.
For me going to the center is the best vacation. It s the vacation for the mind. I have been to many places in the world but there s nothing quite like it. I m going for a full course in oct and can’t wait.
I just posted on another thread of all the weirdness that's has happened to me because of the crazy fluctuation in the weather. I had 5 hours straight of heart palpitations one night then a couple days later I had 2 days of major dizziness. I went to the doctor because I was scared and the first thing he said was barometric pressure. Good luck to you😊