Today I’ll offer you a comment I made in a practice conversation I had with someone recently. See what arises for you when you read it…
“Thank you for that, and well said. Just one thing you might consider….
The reason you feel good on retreat is (I would project) that there is no reason not to. You don’t have to work, there is lots of time and space, you’re meditating a lot and receiving a lot of support, the other people are beautiful and good and it feels good to share practice with them, the food is good, the setting is beautiful…. What’s not to feel good about with all of that?
When you’re not on retreat the stuff of your life is happening. You’re working and dealing with difficult people; you don’t have enough time to take care of yourself; there are distractions everywhere…. Some of that feels good, some doesn’t. Presence when you’re dealing with difficult things is not the same as feeling good. It does not feel good to interact with circumstances that are out of alignment with what you need. Presence in such situations may involve being with the experience of feeling bad. If you’re feeling bad and being with that, you’re just as present as you are in the times you’re feeling good and being with that.
The way you feel is circumstantial, in other words. There is a deeper sort of feeling that’s not circumstantial. It feels profoundly good to be with the experience of feeling bad. This is not the same sort of feeling good as the sort that happens when we’re getting what we want. This deeper sort of feeling good happens when we’re not taking our experience personally; when we are being awareness rather than being a person having an experience. That’s what we’re going for ultimately, I think: to just be experience happening through time. To be somebody having experience is to suffer from attachment to circumstances and to certain feelings about those circumstances. That’s no good, though that’s what nearly everyone is doing nearly all of the time. Along the way, as you learn this skill, it’s best to just be present with whatever you feel, and maintain no preferences about that. This, from what I can see, is the way there.
Easy to say, hard to do!!!! And this, it seems to me, even so, is what we’re going for.”