Oh the magic, oh what mystery, oh the power that’s present in doing something as simple as sitting with yourself and following your breath!

It never fails to surprise me just how amazing the practice of meditation is. It’s something we might not always see in our day to day sittings, since it’s difficult to keep the mind still in the midst of all demands on our time. But set aside just a few days to dedicate yourself exclusively to probing its mysteries, and you find just what a treasure life is. I’ve never failed to leave a retreat without a deep feeling of peace, even though the day to day dramas which arise afterword are anything but peaceful.

A big shift took place during this retreat that’s difficult to put into words. At one point, instead of sitting down and thinking, what will I realize this time? What will this meditation show me about myself?, I began to ask, what do I have to give to this meditation? (or rather, what does the part-in-me-which-Knows have to offer up). It quickly became clear that the list was limitless: future plans, the need to know or be right, indulgence in past memories, attachment to physical pleasure, judgment of others- anything and everything that pops into mind during any one sitting. Once this started happening, I realized I have so much to offer! So many illusions, so many self-imposed neurosis, so much fear of being inadequate and unlovable! So many hearts I’ve broken, so many of my own broken hearts, so much misery and damage I’ve caused for no other reason than simple ignorance.

I offered up my judgment and critique of others. Since Spirit (or Buddha-nature, or whatever metaphor you want) is equally present in everyone, I don’t need to compare myself to them in order to fuel the illusion that I am not also an equally perfect manifestation.

I offered up worrying about the future, since it is motivated by fear, and the desire to control the perfect unfolding of the universe.

I offered up my desire to get something out of my writing, knowing that it’s the joy of putting words in sentences that is reward itself. (although, this one showed me how it’s often necessary to offer and offer again the things we find most difficult to let go of).

I offered up my offering, knowing that it is not this little self doing the work, but rather my true(r) Self working through all the things that are standing in the way of It recognizing Itself.

Everything that arose became a potential offering, until, for a few brief moments, I felt myself stripped bare, naked of assumptions and mistaken beliefs, in the pure simplicity of Presence. Arriving there, I realized I’ve never actually departed, that this long and circuitous path had brought me back to a place I never left, that’s equally present in everyone and everything. In this space, there is no ambition, no need, no lack, no fear, nothing that can be used for anything else because there is nothing else.

I came out to a lake on the final day and sat, feeling the power of this shift in perception. Did I feel reborn? I asked myself.

“Yes, gratefully in every moment. Grateful to feel the sun on my face and the wind on my bare skin and know that the struggle is over (or perhaps it’s just begun), that everything has become so clear (while also raising new questions I wasn’t able to formulate before). Grateful to feel my beating heart and be aware of my breathing lungs that power the body that looks out on this majesty and this mystery. Grateful to have hid Myself so carefully (in such an obvious place) to afford Myself the joy of this homecoming, in full recognition that there will always be more to uncover in the glimmer of a shining star, the ripples on a still pond, the sound of insects buzzing and bounding around, the feel of cool water on a hot day, the sight of a blue sky in the background of it all- yes, the beauty is inexhaustible because it can be no other way; unlimited in every way, even in the absence of forms.”

We’re now in Anadwan, and it’s unspeakably intense. More to come later.