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.

Advertisements

Life is good and meaningful?

There’s nothing wrong when the mind perceives or acknowledges that ‘life is good and meaningful’ because of ‘the presence of something good and meaningful or the absence of something bad and meaningless’, or when the mind perceives or acknowledges that ‘life is bad and meaningless’ because of ‘the absence of something good and meaningful or the presence of something bad and meaningless’.

Just that the mind is still being determined by the presence and absence of ‘certain qualities of names and forms’. There’s no freedom, as there’s attachment towards the presence or the absence of certain qualities of names and forms to feel good and meaningful, or not. Even when the mind thinks and believes that ‘life is so good and meaningful’ or ‘life is so bad and meaningless’ due to ‘the presence and absence of certain qualities of names and forms’, all are subject to impermanence and selflessness. Whether it’s ‘good and meaningful’ or ‘bad and meaningless’, all and everything will pass away.

Yoga and meditation practice is to allow the mind to see things as they are, and be free. Life is just what it is, as it is. Life is neither ‘good and meaningful’ nor ‘bad and meaningless’ being undetermined by the presence or absence of certain qualities of names and forms that are subject to impermanence and selflessness.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they think and believe, and whether they want to be free, or not.

Some minds actually enjoy the state of restlessness, enjoy being determined by all the names and forms that are impermanent and selfless, where they would find moments of calmness, joyfulness, goodness and meaningfulness from time to time during those moments of ‘life is good and meaningful’ due to the presence or absence of certain qualities of names and forms, while trying their best to avoid coming in contact with anyone or anything that they perceive/believe/acknowledge as ‘bad’, ‘negative’ and ‘meaningless’, where they believe it will bring ‘badness’ or ‘negativity’ into their life if they come in contact with certain qualities of names and forms that they believe as ‘bad’ and ‘negative’. That’s their freedom, even though that’s no freedom at all.

Low self-esteem and the state of being free from pride are two different things

The minds are being conditioned to think and believe in a particular way to categorize everything into good and bad, right and wrong, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, positiveness and negativeness, happiness and unhappiness, appropriateness and disappropriateness, and so on. And once the mind is being conditioned to think and believe in a particular way, it’s not easy to allow the mind to be opened to see things as they are, because the mind naturally and autonomously reasons and analyzes everything based on that particular thinking and belief.

People growing up being fed with many information coming from their parents, care taker, friends, religious teachers, society, medias, and went to school/college/university to learn about many things/subjects and gathering all kind of information, and all these information become part of the thinking and belief to reason and analyze everything. But how many would reason the truth of all these information that is influencing them to reason and analyze everything?

Practicing yoga is to learn to inquire the truth of everything, without the influence of the thinking and belief in the mind, but just to see things as they are. Most of the time, people are just being different from one another, and there’s nothing wrong or sick for being different from one another. But, those who attached strongly onto their own way of thinking, belief and behavior, will perceive other people who think, believe and behave differently from them as something wrong or sick.

Low self-esteem is being categorized as something not good, bad, or negative in the worldly thinking and belief. It is being treated as a form of physical/mental/emotional weakness that they think it would make a person inferior than other people. But, low self-esteem is just another by-product of ignorance and egoism, just like pride, arrogance, unhappiness, anger, hatred, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, animosity, offensiveness, defensiveness, violence, grief, sorrow, agitation, meaninglessness, worthlessness, loneliness, fear and worry, and so on.

If the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, low self-esteem as well as all the other form of impurities won’t exist in the mind.

Worldly minded people think that in order to counter or conquest low self-esteem, they need to develop confidence and proudness through accumulating knowledge, skills, achievements, friendships and widening the social interaction network. But they don’t see where does low self-esteem come from.

The cause of low self-esteem is not because of lack of knowledge, skill, achievement, friendship or limited social interaction network. It is the worldly thinking and belief that is based on egoism about how a person should think, belief and behave in the society that categorize people into ‘normal’, ‘rightful’, ‘positive’ and ‘healthy’, or ‘abnormal’, ‘wrongful’, ‘negative’ and ‘unhealthy’, is the real cause of why people are suffering from low self-esteem when they try to comply to all the standards of the worldly thinking and belief that is based on egoism about what is a good and meaningful life that people would feel proud of, but somehow they think they are not good enough when they are unable to achieve the standard of a good and meaningful life that everyone could feel proud of. They were being told to believe that they are not good enough and their life is meaningless, if they don’t achieve something that they can feel proud of themselves, or if they are unable to make other people to feel proud of them.

Even many of the yoga practitioners and teachers in the world are not free from being influence by the worldly thinking and belief that is based on egoism.
This is a common and ‘normal’ and ‘right’ thing to say in everyday life,
“I am so proud of myself.”
“I am so proud of you.”
“You must be so proud of yourself.”
“My parents are very proud of me.”
“You should be so proud of yourself. How is it possible that you are not proud of yourself?” and so on.

If people didn’t make a statement about “I am so proud of you.” after other people have achieved or done something that they believe as ‘good’ or ‘great’, they will be considered as lack of empathy, unappreciative, stingy to say nice things, or being ‘abnormal’. And people would feel disappointed or upset if other people didn’t say anything about being proud of them, and it makes them think that maybe they are not good enough to be proud of themselves, or they are not good enough to make other people to be proud of them.

And, in order to help people who they think is suffering from low self-esteem, they think that they should constantly telling people, “I am so proud of you.” thinking that this will help people to be free from low self-esteem, so that people won’t feel bad about themselves, and feel good about themselves. What can really help people who are suffering from low self-esteem is allowing them to understand that they are fine as they are, that they can just do their best without the intention of doing something to feel proud of themselves, and they don’t need to make other people to feel proud of them, or they don’t need to keep hearing other people to tell them, “I am so proud of you.” to be happy or to live a meaningful life.

It’s like some people always looking for love and affection or attention from other people. If they don’t hear from other people, “I love you.” or “I miss you.” for some time, they will feel unloved, left out and miserable. And people think that by constantly showing and telling people, “I love you.” will help people to be free from unhappiness or suffering from unloved or low self-esteem, but it doesn’t, because it only empowers the attachment and the craving for love and acknowledgement from others to feel loved and meaningful. What can really help people to be free from the unhappiness or suffering from unloved or lack of love, is allowing them to understand that they don’t need love from others at all, through realizing unconditional love in themselves, by freeing the mind from ignorance and egoism.

It’s the worldly thinking and belief that is why people create unnecessary unhappiness or suffering in themselves, drowning in the desire of craving and ceaselessly longing for love and acknowledgement from other beings, by thinking that human beings should attain love and acknowledgement from one another, to feel loved and meaningful.

Those who are free, They are happy and peaceful as they are. They appreciate all love and acknowledgement from everyone as it is, but they don’t need love or acknowledgement from others to be happy, to feel meaningful, or to be who they are. Even if they have no parents, siblings, children, friends or anyone being there, to show love and care for them or to acknowledged them, they are peaceful as they are.

Worldly minded people would relate or refer the people or children who are being free from pride, who don’t have the need/desire/craving to feel proud about anything as a form of suffering from low self-esteem, lack of self-respect/self-love, or worthlessness. They believe that ‘normal’ and ‘mentally healthy’ people must have some sort of pride or proudness about themselves or towards something that is related to them in life, such like be proud of their family background, culture, religion, country, nationality, parents, siblings, children, friends, or things that they like to do or things that they can do, and etc.

Or else, they suggest that people must be suffering from low self-esteem, lack of self-respect/self-love, or worthlessness, and it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘mentally unhealthy’ for someone who doesn’t have the need/desire/craving to feel proud of anything, who response to the question of “Do you feel proud of yourself? You must be so proud of yourself. Your parents and friends must be so proud of you for your achievement.” with the answer of “No. I never feel proud of myself or anything. Why do I need to feel proud of myself? I don’t need anyone to be proud of me either. People can be proud of me if they want. It’s their freedom. It doesn’t matter to me whether people are proud of me, or not. I am what I am. I’m not interested to be what other people want me to be, so that they will be proud of me.”

There are children or people whom the worldly minded think that they are suffering from low self-esteem (which they are not), when they don’t need to feel proud about themselves even when they had achieved great results in school or in career, as the worldly minded think and believe that every normal and mentally healthy person should feel proud of themselves or feel proud of other people around them for being ‘good’ and for achieving ‘great results’ or ‘success’, that it’s something wrong in their brain or mind for not feeling proud for something that the worldly minded think is good and great. But actually, people are peaceful and happy as they are, when they are free from pride or the need/desire/craving to feel proud and meaningful about anything towards oneself and others, which the worldly minded have no understanding at all due to ignorance. These people or children are aware of themselves of what they achieve or don’t achieve, but there’s no identification or attachment towards the quality of names and forms that they possessed or don’t possessed, and there’s no need to depend on anything to feel proud, in order to feel good or meaningful about themselves or about life.

The needlessness to feel proud of anything and the absence of meaninglessness due to the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, and the low self-esteem or the sense of meaninglessness that is due to being informed by the worldly minded to believe that they shouldn’t be contented with being what they are, that they always have to be better than what they are, that they have to achieve certain standards and higher performances to feel good and meaningful, is two completely different things. And, most people become mentally disturbed, when they start to believe what they have been told by other worldly minded people that it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘wrong’, that they are mentally sick for being different from other ‘normal’ people.

There are children or people who don’t feel the need of friends or companionship from others, who are happy being alone by themselves, or they feel fine and happy without mixing or playing or interacting with other children or people, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s not a form of mental illness to be alone, to feel needless to have friends, or it’s needless to be mixing and playing and interacting with other children or people in order to be happy, to feel meaningful, to not feel lonely, or to be ‘normal’.

The children or people who are fine and happy being alone by oneself and don’t need to feel proud or meaningful about anything, they are not mentally sick or in suffering at all. They are happy and peaceful as they are. But worldly minded people don’t think so. They think that these people or children must be so lonely and miserable and meaningless without any friends to play with or interacting with, because that is being planted in their mind, “If you don’t have friends to play with or interacting with, you must be lonely and miserable and meaningless.”

There are people who don’t need to feel sad or grief or mourn for the dead, and being indifferent towards birth and death, it’s not that they are lack of empathy or mentally sick, but they have realized the truth of life existence and have gone beyond ‘normal’ worldly thinking and belief about birth and death, where ‘normal’ people would cheer and celebrate for the newborns as a form of happiness and blessing, and they would grieve and mourn for the dead as a form of painful sorrow and suffering.

Meanwhile, ‘normal’ worldly minded people would feel so unhappy, meaningless, lonely and miserable when they are alone by themselves, when they are not being with other people, thinking that they are being left out and unloved, that no one notice or appreciate them, that no one is there to love and care for them, to be friend with them, or to play and interact with them, constantly craving for and clinging onto ‘friends’ and ‘social interactions’, in order to feel happy, meaningful, loved and ‘normal’, and there is fear and sadness towards solitude, illness, old age, death and separation from the people and things that they love, constantly missing the people and things that they loved when they are out of sight or unavailable. But for them, this is ‘normal’ and ‘mentally healthy’.

No wonder the saints and sages in the past declared that “The awakened ones are awake while the others are asleep.” and “The unawakened ones take suffering as bliss and take bliss as suffering.” There’s no debate can change another person’s mind. It has to come from everyone’s self-realization to realize what is going on in their minds.

Everyone is free for how they want to feel and what they want to do with their body and mind. Allowing everyone to feel what they feel and be different from one another, even if people believe that being prideful and full of passionate desires is ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’, while thinking that it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘unhealthy’ for other people who are free from pride and passionate desires.

Go beyond the sense of meaninglessness and meaningfulness

As long as the mind is still swaying in between the sense of meaninglessness and meaningfulness, rejecting the sense of meaninglessness and longing for the sense of meaningfulness, know that this is due to ignorance and egoism, and this mind is not free.

The ignorant egoistic mind is determined by the existence and non-existence of certain qualities of names and forms that generates either the sense of meaninglessness or the sense of meaningfulness. The mind recognizes and labels certain qualities of names and forms as ‘meaningful’ or ‘meaningless’, and has craving/longing towards what the mind recognizes and labels as ‘meaningfulness’ and has aversion towards what the mind recognizes and labels as ‘meaninglessness’.

For the mind that is not free from ignorance and egoism, there will always be the perception of the sense of meaninglessness towards the existence or the absence of certain qualities of names and forms, which leads to the longing for the sense of meaningfulness that the mind thinks it can be found in certain qualities of names and forms, with the intention to be free from the sense of meaninglessness.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying and appreciating all the nice experiences that make us feel good and happy, and the companionship of nice people who are nice to us, who like and agree with us, who are like-minded as us, who share the similar thinking, belief and values. But, what happen when all these nice experiences and the companionship of the people whom we like and want to be with are not available to us or are absent for a period of time? The mind feels dissatisfied, disappointed, unhappy, depressed and meaningless. The mind misses all the nice experiences and companionship of people whom the mind likes and wants to be with and interact with. The mind experiences suffering. This mind is not free, even if this is a good mind with good behavior and good will.

Realize yoga, be liberated from ignorance and egoism, there’s neither meaninglessness nor meaningfulness.

One enjoys and appreciates all the nice experiences and the companionship of other people who are like-minded, but one doesn’t miss anything or anyone when all these names and forms are not existing/available. One doesn’t miss any objects of names and forms of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations or thoughts, that the mind likes and agrees with. One doesn’t miss any activities that one would enjoy doing. One doesn’t miss any particular interaction or connection with anyone. One doesn’t miss anyone whom one loves and cares for. One doesn’t miss any ‘good’ things and ‘happy’ experiences that are not existing/available, that are absent in the present moment, or indefinitely.

By advising other people who feel meaninglessness in life to do or achieve something that will give them the sense of meaningfulness doesn’t help them to be free. It is not the teachings or practice of yoga.

Whenever the mind finds the sense of meaningfulness in certain objects or actions or experiences, may it be teaching yoga to other people, or the accomplishment in yoga practice, or doing charity works, or contribution to the less fortunate ones, or doing certain things that one feels accomplishment and satisfaction, or being treated with respect, love and kindness by other people, or living a higher quality of life, or having an intense faith towards ‘God’ or particular belief and practice, then know that this mind is not free. The mind that is free, is aware of all the perception of different qualities of names and forms, but there’s no sense of meaninglessness or meaningfulness existing. There’s no longing or missing towards something that the mind perceives as ‘good’ and ‘meaningful’.

All the names and forms are impermanent (good or bad, meaningless or meaningful), and the liberated mind is not determined by any ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘meaningless’ or ‘meaningful’ actions or experiences or objects of names and forms, to be existing, to feel meaningless or meaningful.

This realization/liberation derives from the persist practice of silence being in solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time.

Be free.

Meaningfulness and meaninglessness…

Free the mind from egoism, identification and attachment, then all the actions (including yoga practice) that had been performed, is being perform and shall be performed through this body and mind will be free from ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’.

There is no ‘I’.
There is no ‘I am’.
There is no ‘I am a yogi’.
There is no ‘I am a good yogi’.
There is no ‘I am doing yoga’.
There is no ‘I am receiving the fruit of doing yoga’.

It’s just actions and the consequences of actions.
It’s neither ‘meaningful’ nor ‘meaningless’.

Impermanent changes are happening unceasingly in all the names and forms, but there is no ‘I’ existing in all these names and forms, nor do ‘I’ exist in all the impermanent changes.

Be happy.