Retreat and quieting the restless outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking mind

Some people asked us, “What are the fun holiday activities we can do during the free time between the yoga and meditation practice sessions in the yoga retreat?”

Many people might be unaware of the yoga practice are being carried out in every moment whether during the yoga practice ‘sessions’ and outside the yoga practice ‘sessions’ during a yoga retreat, or in everyday life.

Not that ‘doing/enjoying some fun holiday activities’ are wrong or bad, but the yoga practice is all about changing the worldly behavior pattern/habitual action and reaction of the mind, filtering/reducing/restricting/limiting the physical and mental activities, to withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, to be quieting the restless pleasure/stimulation seeking mind, while freeing the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to prepare the mind for meditation, to see the truth of things as it is, be free from ignorance and suffering that derived from ignorance.

In a ‘retreat’, this yoga practice of restricting the activities of the body and the mind and quieting the restless modification of the mind is being put into practice, seizing the opportunity of participating in a ‘retreat’ for an extended period of time, to be retreating from all kinds of worldly physical and mental activities that gratify the desire of craving for pleasurable actions, adventures, thrills, achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. Retreat participants should make use of the free time in between the yoga practice ‘sessions’ or other than performing daily task such like tidying/cleaning the living space, taking meals and shower, to ‘take rest’ and ‘be quiet’ physically and mentally, as well as observing the habitual action and reaction and the desire of gross/subtle craving of the mind especially during the time ‘not doing anything particular physically or mentally’ not even doing some kind of physical or mental yoga practice to occupy the mind, or when ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’ starts to manifest in the mind urging the mind to go out there to be doing something to get rid of the ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’.

The untrained mind usually doesn’t like to ‘be quiet physically and mentally’ being in the present moment reducing/limiting/restricting the physical and mental activities or ‘doing nothing particular’ not even some kind of ‘spiritual practice’ or ‘healthy/meaningful activities’ to be occupying the mind with ‘something’, as the mind will get bored and feel meaningless, and hence, it needs to be constantly seeking actions/adventures/thrills/achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. And hence, the restlessness. And yoga practice is to free the mind from this worldly thinking/belief/practice/habit of ‘constantly need to occupy the mind with something to keep it busy/restless so that it doesn’t get bored or feel meaningless’.

We don’t just reduce/restrict/limit/retreat from worldly physical and mental activities during a ‘retreat’ for a few days or weeks, we also practice partial or maximum retreat from worldly social affairs, activities and interactions as much as possible in our everyday life to stop feeding the desire and the outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking tendency of the mind.

Contemplate on this, and find out whether oneself is practicing yoga to free the mind from the habitual worldly behavior pattern, to quiet/silent the restless modification of the mind, by renouncing/retreating from worldly egoistic physical and mental activities that empower egoism and restlessness, or just doing some kinds of ‘yoga practice’ a few hours a day regularly to be gaining some impermanent/momentary physical and mental benefits to gratify the desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to feel good, healthy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong either if oneself is not practicing yoga to change the habitual worldly behavior habit of the mind, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to quiet/silent the modification of the mind. But for those who sincerely want to practice yoga, they can contemplate on this.

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Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure seeking tendency

Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure/fun/enjoyment/excitement/adventure/interaction seeking tendency are some of the obstacles for those who have interest or aspiration in learning and practicing yoga, especially when joining a serious yoga and/or meditation retreat which emphasizing on learning and practicing traditional yoga and meditation to quiet the restless mind, to purify the mind impurities, to eliminate egoism, to allow the mind to reflect upon the truth of names and forms and all the teachings, to allow the mind to know what is going on in the mind or to know thyself, to free the mind from ignorance and suffering, the by-products or consequences of ignorance.

Holding a position such as sitting forward bend for more than a few seconds would appear to be challenging or unbearable for these minds. The minds get bored, impatient and irritable when holding the sitting forward bend or in a lying position during the relaxation for a prolong period of time quietly in stillness. The minds also reluctant to proceed a little more or further in the entire practice once experiencing slight tiredness or discomforts, as they don’t want to forbear or tolerate slightest of tiredness or discomforts.

These minds enjoy very much constant movements of the physical body such like sun salutations, but only as long as there’s absence of tiredness or discomforts. They also prefer the back bending series or challenging balancing series more than the other positions as these movements excite/stimulate the energy fields or the mind, not so much of holding the positions for a prolong period of time, but just to get into the positions and out of the positions quickly. It’s the same as for all the other positions, these minds get into any positions quickly in a rush and don’t like to stay in the positions for longer than a few seconds and eagerly want to come out from the positions quickly. If they ‘have to’ stay in the positions, they won’t stay still for a second, they would move around, such like looking around or playing with their fingers, toes, skin, hair, or clothing.

These minds have intense dislike or aversion towards aloneness or being with people that don’t interest them; non-talking or talking about things that don’t interest them; non-interaction or interaction with people that don’t interest them; silence/quietness or noises/sounds/speech that they don’t like; mental and physical stillness or mental and physical training/practice/activity that they don’t like; restricting the thought activities or focusing the mind at one point for a prolong period of time; or listening to the teachings of yoga of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, of desireless, dispassion and renunciation that appear to be non-interesting, or irrelevant, or disagreeable to the minds.

Usually, these minds will feel regret for participating in such retreat and eagerly want to give up half way through the retreat and think of many ‘reasonable’ excuses to ‘runaway’ from the retreat.

“It’s so fun and pleasurable when we can be attending parties/celebrations/festivals, dancing and listening to upbeat loud musics, eating, drinking and smoking while talking, flirting, gossiping and laughing with many like-minded ‘friends’ and enjoying outdoor adventurous activities while looking at beautiful scenery are so much more enjoyable and meaningful and well-worth money spending than participating in these kind of ‘retreats’ about holding some tiring, boring and discomfortable positions in closed eyes and observing the breath without moving, talking or interaction for many hours for many days, and have to be listening to some ‘boring’ and ‘ridiculous’ teachings of ‘disciplining/restricting our thinking/actions/speech’, to be quiet, to be still, to be dispassionate and letting go our passionate desires and what we like to enjoy very much.”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.

Retreat?

A retreat centre is a place for Sadhana, to retreat the mind from worldly habits of social interactions and activities to silent the restless mind. Live alone, sit alone, walk alone, eat alone, meditate alone. It’s not an open house for community social recreation activities making social connections hanging out together busy chatting and gossiping, plotting and planning to chase away boredom and loneliness and empowering worldly attachments and identifications. Even in everyday life, one observes silence as much as possible renouncing worldly social interactions and activities, immerse in solitude and seclusion to be determined to annihilate the modification of the mind. Very few people indeed have this understanding and determination.

Learn how to be alone and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored

Solitude or aloneness is being perceived by many people as something terrible or wrong that can happen to a human being. That is because people’s minds are being conditioned to think and believe in that way. And there’s nothing to be argued about as people’s minds are thinking in certain ways and believing in certain beliefs. That’s how people are being taught and brought up by their parents or the society for how people think and what to believe.

Many people never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without clinging onto other people, to be surrounded by other people to be interacting or communicating with them physically and mentally. They will feel lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored, if there is a prolonged period of time that there are no people around them to be interacting with. They constantly looking/craving for physical and mental attention, love and companionship. A lot of time this is because the parents never teach or allow their children to learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. The parents try to give maximum love and attention to their children and make their children always be busy with doing something and interacting with some other people, either mentally or physically, or both. They think this is good for them and to show that they love and care for their children very much.

That is also one of the important elements why there are people suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, unloved, unworthiness, meaninglessness, and so on. The children are being brought up in the way of building up intense attachment towards the love, attention and companionship from one or both of their parents or caretakers, but the parents or caretakers will not be always being by their side, and there will not be always somebody there to give them the attention, love and companionship that they like and want, that they cling onto and crave for. They never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing. Their minds are being used to interactive stimulation, receiving inputs and expressing outputs. These minds can’t stand being silence without any inputs or outputs for a few moments. The sense of loneliness, left out, unloved, unworthiness, depression, meaninglessness and boredom kicks in as soon as they are being away from family and friends that are always being close by physically, to interacting with and doing things together all the time.

Just like for the children without a father or both parents, people might think that by showing them lots of love and attention will help them and benefit them. People like to say, “People need love.” and they think that it means giving or showing love (affection) to other people who need love. But what people really need is realizing the unconditional unlimited love in themselves, without expecting love (affection) through receiving love (affection) from others. If people don’t know how to teach or allow the children to be independent, how to love themselves and how to be alone by themselves, that they can be happy and live life meaningfully as they are, even without one or both of the parents being by their side physically or mentally giving them personal love, attention and companionship, then if the children don’t get enough of love, attention and companionship from the people who are not being there for them all the time, these children will try to cling onto other people looking for attention, love and companionship.

It’s okay that one doesn’t have one or both of the parents being with them or to be there for them. Even if there is one or both of the parents being there for them, it doesn’t mean that the parents have to or will be there all the time, that there are times that one or both of the parents might not be there for them temporary or permanently. And it’s okay.

It’s okay that one doesn’t have anyone or friends and family members being with them or to be there for them. One can love oneself, whether doing something or doing nothing by oneself, and be happy and live life meaningfully being alone by oneself without anyone beside them to interact or communicate with physically or mentally. One has no craving for love, attention and companionship from other beings. One is peaceful as it is, being free from attachment and craving.

But all these children grow up without learning or knowing know how to be alone by themselves, and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. They suffer from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, depression and meaninglessness, if they think there’s no one there being with them or to be there for them, to interact with them, to give them love, attention and companionship.

Sooner or later, everyone will have to deal with solitude or aloneness at some stage in life whether we like it, or not. It is a natural process of life. It’s something wonderful if one knows the truth of aloneness or solitude. Only those who know this, will know.

Those who don’t know, they have strong aversion or fear towards solitude, afraid of being alone by themselves, and they will be suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, meaninglessness and depression if there’s nobody being with them to be interacting or communicating with, physically or mentally. They think and believe that it’s because they are not good enough, that’s why they are being left out, unloved and being alone by themselves, that they are so pitiful without anyone, friends or family being with them, to give them love, attention and companionship, physically or mentally. They always feel that they are not good enough, that they need to be in competition with other people especially their brothers and sisters to get the maximum love and attention from their parents. They need other people to show thankfulness and appreciation for what they have done for others to feel that they and their effort of doing something are being appreciated and acknowledged. They always try very hard to please everybody to make everyone love them and acknowledge them that they are good enough and well-deserved with love and happiness. But, they don’t realize that they don’t have to please anyone to make other people love them. People who love them will love them as they are. Those who don’t love them will not love them even if they try to please these people. And many people will take advantage of the people who want or need to be loved by other people.

Most parents or caretakers don’t realize that it’s how they bring up the children that had caused the children to think and believe like that, to be suffering from love seeking, attention seeking, lack of something, missing something, or craving for something, and suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, meaninglessness, and so on, through out their entire life, unless/until they realize the truth that they don’t have to think and believe and suffer in such way. When they have their own family, that is also how they are going to bring up their children the way that how their parents brought them up, and most probably, their children will also end up like them, unless the children start to think for themselves and realize what is unconditional love from oneself towards oneself.

People also perceive the state of fullness or non-separateness, where one doesn’t need any other beings to be there to show love, attention and companionship, to be interacting with, to feel loved and meaningful, as something horrible or wrong. They think that these people who don’t need other beings being with them to be there for them, without feeling lonely, unloved, unworthy, meaningless, left out or bored, are impossible or insane or hard, and that these people must be so lonely and unhappy and live life meaninglessly for not needing anybody being there for them, where in truth, these people are peaceful, happy and live life meaningfully without being depending on other beings’ love, attention and companionship to life live meaningfully, or to feel loved and worthy, or to be free from loneliness and boredom.

Those who think and believe that they need to have other people’s love, attention and companionship to feel loved and worthy and meaningful, to not feel lonely and bored, are not free at all. But people don’t see that. And that’s their freedom of thinking and believe.

Doesn’t need anyone to be there for one to be happy and live life meaningfully, doesn’t mean that one is rejecting love and companionship from others, but, one will enjoy and appreciate all the love and companionship from others that are available in the present moment, without craving or clinging onto the love and companionship from others to be who they are, to feel happy and meaningful, or not. And when there is absence of love and companionship from others, one is still peaceful and happy and live life meaningfully as one is.

If people still can’t understand this, no one can make them understand. One has to realize this by oneself through direct experience and self-realization. Even some yoga and meditation teachers also don’t understand this. They teach about in order to counter loneliness, boredom, meaninglessness, depression, low self-esteem, or unworthiness, people need to have more friends to interact with, to play with, to communicate with, to share with. And it’s okay.

Be free.

Loneliness?

Loneliness doesn’t exist in the minds that are free from ignorance and egoism, even when being by oneself alone, without engaging in any personal relationship or friendship or contact with anyone, or without engaging in any forms of mental or physical social interactions and activities, as there is no sense of separateness of time, space and causation in the minds that are selfless/compassionate. The minds are peaceful and contented as they are, being free from clinging onto the existing companionship, love and support from other beings, being free from craving towards the companionship, love and support from other beings that are non-existing in the present, being free from aversion towards the absence of companionship, love and support from other beings in the present, and being free from aversion towards losing the existing companionship, love and support from other beings.

The sense of loneliness and all the other forms of impurities such like separateness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, meaninglessness, emptiness, boredom and all sorts of fear will keep following the egoistic minds that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism, wherever they are and whatever condition they have, even when these minds are having a good life in a good living environment and a good condition of the physical body, and they are surrounded by many other beings, being engaged in different relationships and friendships with many other beings, and being busy with all sorts of worldly mental and physical social interactions and activities, as there are attachment of clinging, craving and aversion in the mind that give rise to the sense of loneliness and all other forms of impurities.

Realize selflessness and be free from ignorance and egoism, being unattached towards the life existence and function of the body and mind that are selfless and subject to impermanence, and being undetermined by any qualities of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses that are also impermanent, and the mind will be free from loneliness and all other forms of impurities.

Otherwise, the mind ceaselessly looking for or relying on companionship, love and support from other beings to occupy itself with some forms of mental or physical social interactions and activities, to get rid of loneliness, dissatisfaction, boredom, emptiness, meaninglessness and so on. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get rid of loneliness by keeping the mind busy engaging with someone or something, but then the mind will be in a state of restlessness, which it will come to a point where the mind goes wild and couldn’t ‘unwind’ or ‘shut down’ naturally, and affecting the mental and physical health and relationships with everyone in long term. In serious cases, people might hurt themselves and/or others either out of loneliness or restlessness.

For those who are sincere in their yoga practice to ‘know thyself’, to be free from ‘suffering’, who might think that they have a ‘good’, ‘contented’, ‘positive’ and ‘happy’ mind, can try to live alone in solitude and seclusion being isolated from ‘the world’ for a prolong period of time, and one will find out the true state of the mind, or whether the mind is free, or not.

Be free.