By Cassandra Lew
Was the first thought in my mind this morning. What if I simply practiced meditation at home? The past few late nights of rushing through assignments, had taken its toll on me. I was overwhelmed with fatigue, and I could feel this seeping into my emotional well-being. I was getting impatient and rather unkind to those around me.
Throughout the past week, I told myself that if there were no project meetings on Saturday, I would attend “One Day of Mindfulness” and be in touch with Buddhist teachings again. I need to go for this the way a patient needs medicine, and so I did.
This would be my second time joining Venerable Fa Xun’s one-day retreat. I always found Venerable’s teaching style very relevant to modern life as she advises us on how to pace ourselves when we practice the Dharma. I think many of us will be put off by the word “retreat”, and picture ourselves spending the whole day sitting in a room, not talking, plagued with muscle aches and drowsiness which happens to surface especially during meditation. Venerable alternates short sessions of sitting meditations with walking meditations, gently bringing us towards stillness and concentration. A fellow participant thanked Venerable for organizing the retreat in such a way that it was more palatable for beginners.
In the Dharma talk, Venerable highlighted the importance of “joyful effort”, that we should rejoice in the fact that we chose to engage in something wholesome amongst other alternatives. I feel that that is always the first step to continuing the practice – to encourage ourselves along the way, and to constantly remind ourselves how fulfilling the experience can be. At the end of the day, despite how much I fell asleep during meditation, despite how wildly my thoughts ran, there was a tinge of satisfaction that I took a step away from slumber and a step towards waking up.
This reflection piece is written by Cassandra Lew, who took part in a one-day mindfulness retreat led by Venerable Faxun on 3 March 2012.
Cassandra is doing her final year in communication studies at NTU, where she majored in public relations. She is also a member of NTU Buddhist Society.