My experience with Vipassana meditation

A friend asked me about Vipasana meditation a few weeks back.  She wanted to know what I thought about it.  And I said, “Great!  If it works for you and you see the value, go for it!”

What came to my mind was a time when I went for a Vipassana meditation retreat back in California closed to 9 years ago.  The morning bell rang at 3:30 am and we all got up, washed up and off to the morning chant.  After that, it was walking and sitting meditation alternating every hour for the rest of the day.  It was a sweet experience.  Besides the struggle to get out from my thick warm blanket during the winter time and the most yummy Burmese and Cambodia breakfast and lunch, my mind didn’t seem to register any memorable events during those long hours of mindfulness.

Would I do it again?  I don’t think so.  I don’t feel the need for it.  Meditation is no longer something that is separate from my life.  My life is no longer compartmentalized into conscious and unconscious time, that I have to set aside time for.  At one time in my life, I decided that it is either all or nothing.  I just couldn’t bear being conscious in part of my life and unconscious in another.  I just couldn’t fool myself any longer.  It’s just too painful to not want it all.  So now, I open up to what my life offers.  I am learning to love having no preferences.  And I love it when I could ask to have things the way I want it.  And it feels absolutely equal to me.  Strange but that’s how it looks on the outside.

My Encounter with Katie

Received an email from a dear friend in China telling me that he is coming to understand how a praise from someone is just as stressful as a complaint.  And sometimes when he was stuck doing The Work, he would see me saying things to him in my strong Malaysian accent, that moved him through his stuckness.

What a delight to be that for someone.  It came to me that Katie had been like that for me all these years.  I remembered the first time I met her back in 2002 in a weekend workshop in Northern California, at the end of the workshop, I went up to her and told her, “Thank you for triggering and bringing out the Katie in me.”  And she just held me in her arms and said, “Oh, sweetheart, bring This Work back to your people.”  It just brought tears to my eyes when I recalled and had this image in my mind.

So many times when I was in pain holding on to “my wanting to be right”, I see Katie’s image speaking gently to me, “Is that really true, sweetheart?”  And it softened the hard righteous self like waves that smoothen the hard surface of the rocks on the shore.  I am washed with tears in humility of my ignorance and innocence.

The one thing that interest me about life is to live out what is true for me.  I am not interested in teaching it, there are too many teachers in the world.

To live out what I really feel inside of me is my only interest and allowing that to be anchored to my daily life is my life purpose.  What else would be more fulfilling to me than that?  I haven’t found one and am definitely open to it…

Working with Limiting Beliefs Pt 3

Let’s say you are aware that you have a belief about money, “I need to work hard for money“.  In fact, there is nothing wrong with this belief if it is not stressful for you.  It’s working when we know we want money and we work hard to get it.  We only investigate and inquire this thought/belief if it is stressful.

So, let’s inquire into this thought using The Work:

I need to work hard for money
Is it true?
Yes, it feels true.

Can you absolutely know that this is true?

How do you react when you think the thought?
When I am not working hard, I blame myself.  I feel pressured.  I feel lousy, I think about people who has money and I get upset with them for not sharing their money with me.

Who would you be without the thought?
I would go with what feels right for me.  I won’t push myself so hard. I would be more open to be around my friends who have money.

Turn the thought around.  I need to work hard for money.
I don’t need to work hard for money.

Is this thought true or truer?  Three genuine examples in your life?
My parents paid for my accommodation and food when I was young.
What I am doing is not very hard to do. I actually am having fun.
I had good returns from investment.

So now, the mind comes to realize for itself that there have times in my life when I didn’t work hard for money and still had money.  It also comes to witness the suffering that it brings upon itself when it believes the thought.  Either way, the amount of money I have hasn’t changed.

We can go on telling ourselves that I don’t need to work hard for money over and over again.  But, without realizing this truth inside ourselves, we will still go on living life with the stress and fear of not working hard enough for money.

We have to live out what we believe, not much choice in that.  This is the power of thoughts!

Working with Limiting Beliefs Pt 2

So,the next question you may ask is, “how do we get rid of the limiting beliefs?”  Before we do that, let’s understand how our mind work.
“As man thinketh, so is he”.  Yes, beliefs are the beginning of all creation; manifestation in all forms start from a thought, that when left unquestioned, will form a belief and over time, becomes our religion, and who we are.  And these beliefs are programs that have been installed in us at our early days.

So as an adult, we really don’t have a choice, we just live out beliefs that have been filed away in our mind and whenever the files of belief are triggered in life, we will act accordingly to these underlying beliefs.  Our minds are like tape player or mp3 player, it only has rewind, fast forward and play functions.

In my experience, limiting beliefs were adopted in the past, that used to work for us for whatever reasons, and may not be working for us now.  So, they are really not our enemies, not something that we have to get rid of!  What we can do is to take time to understand it, then it will let go of us.  And using The Work of Byron Katie (4 questions and turnarounds)  to investigate the validity of this belief has helped me to undo many beliefs that are not serving me in my life now.

So, here are the 4 questions from The Work:

1. Is this thought/belief true?
2. Can I really/absolutely know that this thought/belief is true?
3. How do I react when I believe this thought?
3a.When do I first believe this thought/belief? (sub question)
3b.What do I get for holding on to this belief? (sub question)
4. Who would I be without this thought?

Working with Limiting Beliefs Pt 1

Every now and then when I attend a talk, a class or a workshop, I would always hear speakers talk about the conscious and subconscious mind, about how the limiting beliefs in the subconscious mind would take over our conscious mind.

And during this past weekend, I attended a workshop on internet where the trainer talked about replacing the negative beliefs with the positive ones.  He had us close our eyes and ran a positive affirmation meditation with us.  And the participants were left to think that if we believe in these positive beliefs hard enough, our beliefs would be replaced.

But, seriously, does that really work?  If you ask me, my answer is, “yes, it may”, during good times in our lives, when things are going the way we want, affirmation always works.  But, what happens when things are not going our way, when we lose our job, our loved ones, something of great value to us.

It’s during these time that we get to find out what our beliefs really are and how much we really believe what we have been affirming all along.