The walking meditation helped me focus my mind and remain mindful,


Santhushi Dharmawardhana

In the 2019 Retreat Journal, I wrote down everything day by day, but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to do that this year. Instead, I’m going to write one big journal with how I feel and what I learned and found interesting at the end of the retreat instead. Since I had done the retreat before, I knew what to expect and I wasn’t too worried about it. However, I thought waking up would still be a bit difficult and that I would feel too drowsy throughout the day. Unlike what I thought, I woke up at 4:30 or earlier on all 4 days and I didn’t feel drowsy in the morning at all. I was able to get ready relatively quickly and drink a cup of tea calmly and alertly. The morning meditation with the candle lights in the dark was also a serene and calming time in the day and I felt very rejuvenated after the meditation. 

What I found most difficult was sitting down in the proper posture for meditation. I usually have a hard time sitting still and I constantly move my hands and legs around, and I had to remind myself that I had to try and stay still. The idea of noble silence was also a little bit difficult for me, because I tend to talk a lot. The morning walking meditation was probably the meditation I found the easiest for me. Because I struggle with staying still,  the walking meditation helped me focus my mind and remain mindful, while also moving around. 

My brother was at the retreat this year as well, and while I am happy that he was there, I struggled with focusing on myself only during discussions and meditations, because I’m so used to checking on him. I had to remind myself that he had to learn to keep track of himself and that I couldn’t do that for him. 

During one of our discussions, Deepankara Hamuduruwo reminded us that we are supposed to eat the food without really preferring one food over the other and picking favorites. Food is supposed to be a necessary thing for our body, and not much more. Taking his advice, I tried to get some foods that I don’t usually eat and I tried not to think about the taste of the foods too much. 

Compared to the retreat in 2019, I did a lot more cleaning up around the temple and helping with the preparations for everything. Interestingly, I didn’t dislike doing that. I like keeping busy and helping clean up. Also to be honest, the fact that there weren’t many parents around all the time, made things easier too. I feel like when there are parents around all of the time, the other kids don’t help out and sometimes the parents don’t let us help out. There just tends to be a lot more dependence on the parents. However, without the parents, more kids stepped up and did more around the temple out of their own will and that was better for everyone. Some level of independence is important to have, and the fact that there weren’t many parents around helped that. Not that having parents help is always a bad thing or anything like that, its just nice to get things done without the help of parents.

The discussion I found most interesting was the discussion about the Chula Vyuha Sutta which was a sutta given by the Buddha about how to decide the truth. The basic message of the sutta was that things like oral transmission, logic, transcripts, etc., cannot determine the truth alone. Truths aren’t really universal and they tend to be personal. Finding out the truth for yourself requires questioning you hear or see for yourself. Its important to know that because people have personal truths, disagreements are common. While I may believe something to be true, someone else may not, and that is something that I have to respect and understand.

The discussion about taking care of yourself was also deeply relatable and something that everyone was interested in. The basic message of the discussion was that fulfilling yourself or taking care of yourself isn’t selfishness, its more of a spiritual requirement. I can’t be mindful towards others without being mindful of myself first. During a different discussion with Bhante Wajirabodhi, I also found advice Venura gave about procrastination helpful. I talked with some others, and this advice was very helpful to many of us who struggled with procrastination. I tend to see tasks and activities as daunting and too big to handle at the time, so I always push it off to later. If I can break up the activities and tasks into smaller and more doable looking ones, I can get the overall task done one step at a time. I will definitely try this when I get home.

Lastly, I am very grateful for Taniya Auntie, Kisa Nanda, Auntie Duli, and my mother for helping out with the retreat. Taniya auntie was at the temple every day and helped out a lot. I would also like to thank Idesha Akka for everything she did. She was a part of the retreat, and she also helped prepare and clean everything and organized tasks for everyone else. She gave guidance to all of us and made sure we were doing the right thing. Of course, I’m thankful to the Bhantes as well, for teaching us and trying to show us the right path. Many of my questions were answered and I feel like my knowledge of the dhamma greatly increased thanks to the retreat. Many of my bad habits were fixed as well. I hope that the retreat will go successfully next year as well. 

Theruwan Saranai.

Summer Youth Retreat of 2023

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