I just spent four days on a silent meditation retreat with http://www.triplegem.org. Here are 11 lessons that I learned from the retreat:
- Be a noble friend to yourself. Take good care of yourself. Remember you are the only doorway to the existence for yourself. During the retreat, I realized that I am too critical with myself. I need to let go of things and be my own best friend.
- If you find value in something, continue to pursue it. There are many times that I want to give up on something that’s good for me. For example, sometimes I will find excuses not to go to meditation class.
- Watch how your thoughts can cause suffering. Do not be mislead by unguided thoughts or false views. Wisdom comes by seeing the whole picture or the whole story (endowed with insight).
- Find commonality among other people. Most people want to improve their lives. We are more alike than different.
- Decide to lead a spiritual life, even if that means going through it alone. I realized that most of my family members do not accept that I am Buddhist. My family members are Catholic and they do not understand the Buddhist way of living. Sometimes I feel like I am estranged from my family. However, I know that the Buddhist path is right for me, so I will walk alone if I have to.
- Renunciate. In Buddhism, the Pali word for “renunciation” is nekkhamma, conveying more specifically “giving up the world and leading a holy life.” My holy life includes daily practice of yoga and meditation, serving humanity through hospice work, attending a weekly meditation group (sangha) with my Buddhist teacher, sharing metta (loving-kindness) with everyone that I meet, and continuing self-study. I want to increase mindfulness.
- Spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, prayer, and reading spiritual literature can help keep you on the right path.
- It is important to forgive and move on. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- Gratitude creates a joyful heart. “Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path. Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.” – Pema Chodron
- Use your time wisely. We all have 24-hours in a day. You can create a spiritual life with the right choices.
- Never do anything that the wise would reprove (reprimand). We are never alone. There are always celestial beings around us.