I have been thinking of starting a new blog for a while but wasn’t sure which topic would be the best. We are so inundated with so much information here and there that thinking on an interesting topic becomes quite challenging. Finally I have decided to start sharing what has been the most powerful experience I have ever had while attending a 3 days intensive #Zen #meditation #retreat run by Zen Master Daizan Roshi.
By the time I attended this retreat I had an ‘almost’ daily meditation practice routine of 2 years (after several years of on and off meditation practice). Although I could see the #benefits of my practice as feeling more focused and calm, the changes in me were very subtle and I had had this feeling of being stuck in my practice for a long while.
To explain briefly the dynamic of these retreats, this is a group meditation retreat. This is a three-day (64 hours) intensive retreat format based on the ‘Group Sanzen’ format developed by Zen master Shinzan Roshi and the American teacher Charles Berner (for more information click here). Everyone works with a koan, being one of them ‘Who am I?’ and the one I worked on during this first retreat.
This is a very simplistic version of what I experienced during this retreat. It has been very challenging to put into words (and not too many) everything I had been through during these LONG 64 hours. Nevertheless I’ll do my best to share this with you the best way I can:
6pm – 11pm: Who am I? Nothing comes up… What am I doing here? Who am I? Nothing comes up… Absolutely nothing… I feel so frustrated… I start judging everyone in the room… I feel embarrassed… I am not doing this right… Everyone else is getting it but myself... Look, everyone is talking and I am not talking… What the hell is wrong with me? Oh my God, I am scared now… What is someone tell me now that he/she is a serial killer?! I cannot be here with a serial killer!! I need to explain this to Daizan. He will understand… What the hell am I doing here…? I am going to get crazy here… This is mental… How I get out of here? … Who am I? Buff…
6am -11pm: Who am I? Nothing comes up… Oh my God, am I doing this right? I feel so embarrassed… I am boring everyone here… Who am I? Nothing… I can see deception in people eyes because I am not talking… WHO AM I???!!! Gosh, nothing… Nothing comes up! Seriously?! Am I going to spend all this day from 6am to 11pm like this?? What if something comes up and I feel embarrass to say? Who am I? Nothing … I have never felt so frustrated in my life… Who am I? Please, who am I? Please, please, please, who am I? Nothing… I am exhausted… I have never been so tired in my entire life… Who am I? Nothing… They day is almost over and nothing… I will not be able to spend another day like this… Who am I? I only want to sleep…
6am - onwards: Something has released during the night. I don’t know what it is… Who am I? I don’t feel frustration anymore… I feel sadness and compassion at the same time...I was terrified at the idea of crying in front of someone I don’t know… I cannot stop crying now, and is OK… Who am I? Things start to arise… I can feel I am opening up… I say whatever is arising to the person in front of me and it feels good…I am not sure where these tears are coming from… Who am I? More things keep arising, memories, good ones and bad ones, thoughts, believes… Tears keep coming…I am opening up… More tears… I find so much kindness in these people… Who am I? How wrong I was in my perception!
2pm – onwards: Tears keep coming, I let them be, it feels good, releasing… I feel in peace… I am accepting this sadness and I feel compassion… It is pleasant... I am starting to realize how much stuff I was holding on, for decades, it is releasing... Who am I? It keeps releasing and… IT IS GONE… Suddenly everything is gone: the tension, the embarrassment, the fear, is gone… Who am I? The energy of the group has changed…I see myself reflected in the person in front of me, over and over… Who am I? I see everything different now… Everyone here is absolutely amazing... I find so much support and kindness in these people... I feel gratitude… tears of gratitude keep coming…
8pm – 11pm: Who am I? Everything is perfect as it is… This is heaven… I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to say anything. I can just be… It is that simple... I can just be looking in the eyes of the person in front of me… We can just be, together... Everything is perfect as it is, here and now… I have never felt so well in my entire life… We don’t need to do anything to connect because we are already connected… This is powerful.
6am – 1pm: Who am I? I have never felt so in peace in my life… I can feel the peace in my belly. I can feel the peace was buried by tensions I was holding on for decades. These tensions are gone… This is unbelievable. I was not even aware I was holding on that… It is gone… Who am I? I feel so connected to the people here. We are all the same. We are one. I feel it. I know it… We have been taken off all our layers: age, gender, family, experiences, fears, frustrations, memories, embarrassments… And after all these layers what is left is LOVE… This is beautiful… This is so special. To be able to communicate from this pure source...When the student is ready, the master appears. Thank you Daizan.
After this retreat I literally felt ‘high’ for a month. I was shocked at how my perception had changed. The way I perceived people, myself, the situations, everything, had changed. Stuff kept arising for a week or so after the retreat. Obviously the ‘high’ sensation melt away but the new way I perceive everything has remain. The peace I feel in my belly has remain. My new understanding of many things including my own personality has remain. My meditation practice has improved dramatically and my level of mindfulness in all my daily activities has increased tremendously.
However, as Zen Master Daizan Roshi says, this is only the beginning, and I really felt it that way. The beginning of a new way of understanding of how things really are. A new world is just opening for me to explore.