During my first Vipassana Meditation course, I realised how much my mind created my problems. The act of sitting in meditation and silence for 10 days is so intense it can almost force you into surrendering to ‘what is’.
Sitting in meditation can be challenging, as it is not usual for us to sit quietly. In silence our thoughts seem magnified as there is nothing to mask them. It takes a lot of energy to block them out and keep them at bay with all the distractions and noise we surround our selves with. When we stop and observe our thoughts, they lose their power over us.
When faced with a situation that is difficult or challenging our first reaction is to defend and resist the attack. This is natural self preservation behaviour. However, when we are resisting our own thoughts all the while we are creating a wall of fear around our selves. We expect the worst, act out of fear and look for the ‘bad’ in everything.
This behaviour perpetuated over a life time creates resistance to life, even when there is nothing to resist. We are ultimately resisting our thoughts and not actual events. On the other hand when the mind is open to accepting the way things are, we are more able to find positives, allow life to happen, and know that impermanence and change are a part of life.
During the Vipassana course, I learned a lot about resistance and surrender. The first day was the toughest. Each day started at 4am and ended at 9pm. We were required to be mindful and in meditation the whole time we were there. I started the first day and by 10 am I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I was ‘trying’ to meditate through pain from sitting in meditation posture, and only experienced more pain.
My mind was obsessed with making the pain stop, so I sat through each hour long meditation willing it to end and praying the pain in my body would subside. When I spoke to one of the trainers about this he told me not to worry that it was because my mind was weak. This was a revelation, and completely changed my experience of the duration of the course.
Once I realised that I was creating my own problems by resisting what was happening, I began to observe my experiences and was able to surrender to the pain knowing that it would change. A big part of my learning was how impermanent everything is, and the futility of attaching to something that will change. Can you think of how you are resisting life and creating more problems for yourself?
This experience has had a lasting impact on me and helps me to detach quicker than I would otherwise. Knowing that I can change how I experience something, even physical painful experiences, has been liberating in many ways.
Resisting something that has happened by not accepting it creates more stress and upset. When we accept what has happened, and experience the emotions we feel about it, we are more able to move forward from there. Acceptance does not mean making everything ‘ok’. It is more about proceeding from the event with acceptance and saying to yourself; so this has happened, and I feel really bad, but what can I do now to get back on course?