bird poops on plum branch


Buster Benson

No advice column.

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Top 10 things done at the 10-day meditation retreat
kunja vipassana center: walking area

10. Watched an ant for an hour and a half, as it went in circles, clearly mad.

9. Watched a mildewy bench dry in the morning sun for an hour... then realized that EVERYTHING was drying, including myself. Ooeeeooeeooee.

8. Realized I had become the "parking lot pacer" of the group, as it was the only area where it was pretty guaranteed that I would not have to change course to avoid another pacer. Because that was IRRITATING.

7. Got caught by four people simultaneously petting the neighbor's dogs, which we weren't supposed to do. Silent blank stares.

6. Got caught putting grass and dead bees on the giant ant hill, the grass confused them but the bees got shuttled directly down into the holes to be turned into bee hamburgers I presume. Silent blank stare.

5. Shot mental laser beams at the other silent meditators. Equanimously.

4. Learned how to sleep while sitting up.

3. Rationalized that talking to myself didn't break the rules of the noble silence agreement.

2. Flossed my teeth 3 times a day because for the first time ever, it topped my priority list.

1. Became enlightened.

To read my really long entries about what the camp was like, and what it was about, click here and here respectively.

My response to the entire experience is always going to be positive... but my response to the instruction and practice of the course seems to be swinging from positive to negative fairly regularly. How can you objectively judge intense experiences? The quality of intensity seems to always be positive... or at least "worth it". And the intentions and spirit of the course were insanely positive... what other organizations out there will pay for 10 days of food, lodging, instruction, and support without any hard sell at the end? It's really quite remarkable and unique in this world.

But the biggest benefit of the 10 days was what was happening in my head, sometimes triggered by the course itself, but usually more about my personal life and projects and ideas. The opportunity to think that clearly and calmly for that long of an uninterrupted period led to SO MANY NEW IDEAS. From my secret project, to my media club, to a new comic I want to publish, to three book ideas, to self-improvement projects, to office hours, to ways to improve the lives of friends, to work, to making a million dollars, to becoming a famous inventor, to opening a bar, to starting a gallery, to creating new gadgets, to a million other small things... ideas were raining from the skies! The world is too rich. I want it all to happen. Either by me or by someone else, I don't care. Let's stop dilly dallying and start living day to day as if it were all real, too real.

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Nice . . . Did your body weight change? Do you think the diet also had something to do with the brainstorming? I am guessing your diet was meat free and earthy.

I lost a few pounds despite my voracious eating habits. It was all beige food: rice, bread, boiled things, tofu, butter, etc. My stomach was cranking on it the entire time I was there, making a sound like gears crunching rocks. And yeah, the food made me spacey and clear headed, I think... if a little slower. Time seemed to simply roll by without incident. I wasn't ever very energetic (took lots of naps), but my brain did spin out of control a couple times.

I heard you've got a gimp leg now. How's that? Want to go to the rock paper scissors tournament at the Baltic Room tonight?

I do have onr (a gimp leg). Basketball injury. I did get carried around by Eastern European men which was awesome! I am ok except I am moving about 10 times slower. As for RPS tonight, i'll pass. Good luck!! Jade Pagoda is as far as I going for drinks for a while.

Want to have a drink at Jade Pagoda afterwards? I need to tell you about my new enlightenment. I was thinking about how we're already enlightened and thought that you might be the only person that agreed with me.

So you rationalized that speaking to yourself may not count against the rules. Did that mean you did?

I'm also curious what your first words were once you finished the 10 days. I would imagine that you'd remember what they are.

oh yes, there was lots of talking to myself... usually unintentionally and therefore rationalized as "okay". my first words actually weren't that memorable... they were probably, "we fucking survived!"

i used to get all sorts of ideas while i worked at a factory for 12 hour days. it's amazing what your mind does when all you have is time to think. i just jotted down "reflection time" on my to do list. so sad i have to pencil it in. there is never enough time in the day i tell ya

oh yes. one of my favorite jobs ever was folding cake boxes at the bakery. leads to enlightenment! so does weaving!

yeah, i had the same experience when i was a guard at the seattle art museum (with lele) in college. so much time to just let things roll around in your head and occasionally lead somewhere interesting. people talk about having their best ideas come to them in the shower... i was in that shower state for 10 whole days and it was WEIRD.

also, i think part of it has to do with not thinking in terms of days. think in terms of weeks, months, years... all kinds of times and spaces open up for reflection when you create bigger buckets. 10-day spaces. space fills itself too, so sometimes it helps to just systematically remove space fillers like television, social activities that you feel obligated to go to (but don't really want to do), and all that time spent "getting ready" or "winding down". those are two of the biggest time fillers i think, because we always take as long to get ready or wind down as we give ourselves.

how is morale lately?

I get the best ideas while I'm knitting. There's nothing like having a repetitive activity to get your brain going...

thanks for the posts! looking forward to chatting more in person

yeah, come to office hours this week and i'll give you the full scoop. or, come to the rock paper scissors tournament tonight!

can't this week sadly... but next would work. have fun!

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