Monkey Wrench in the Works

The delicious homemade melt-in-the-mouth chocolate chip cookie I had savoured at lunch is on top of my list, blaming the current storm in my body. Two hours after I had indulged in this one cookie, I experience a surge of shame, irritability and agitation. Could this be a crash after a sugar high from one cookie, the sudden drop in levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine? How often does this affect me in daily life?

The mind continues searching for something to blame, including the full moon effects of the earth’s inhabitants as another hypothesis. There is plenty of time at the retreat for awareness of all that arises and dissolves.

In an attempt to untangle this brouhaha, an acronym, RAIN, is useful for working with the hindrances to practice. “R” is Recognizing what is happening. “A” stands for Acceptance or Allowing the sensations, emotions or thoughts. “I” for Investigation or Inquiry into the feelings. “N” for Non-identity observing the passing of the energy and not defining ourselves by the sensation. Loosening this grip and letting go or letting be. “N” may also represent Nourish bringing kindness to ourselves at this moment. We recognize a problematic emotion, holding the feeling and ourselves softly and with warmth. Allowing the RAIN to wash over me, provides some space before reacting externally in daily life, like snarling at my husband. Instead, I head towards the tap to get a refreshing drink of water, and the sensation settles. When the feeling passes, I linger with delight for a few moments.

The constant bombardment of stimuli suddenly removed at the retreat; as if a rug pulled from under my feet, I fall into sleepiness. My head bobs forward, or the sudden sound of a snore wakes me. A wave of embarrassment, did that snore come from me? It was a futile effort adjusting the layers of clothing or trying different poses.

A warm cozy luxurious sensation lures me to the moment of falling asleep. My body trying to communicate that I need a rest, and there is nothing wrong with taking a nap, but if I sleep now, I fear not sleeping at night. I resist the temptation, noticing the strong desire to surrender to the sleepiness.

Standing meditation is an option, but I did not want to interrupt the others. I don’t think it would be possible for me to stand for the duration of the scheduled sitting meditation. Keeping the eyes open was added to my list of failed anecdotes. Doubt of my ability to meditate or cope during this retreat generously sprinkled over the desires, resistance, and lethargy.

The walking meditation provided a reprieve from the lethargy. I took the option of walking outdoors every time, finding solace and energy in nature. A deep appreciation has evolved for walking meditation, grateful for the quality of alert concentration. The monkey wrench found and, for now, put in a safe place.

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