This has already made me a better disciplined person.........

 Mihini Senanayake 

When I arrived at the temple for this year’s retreat, I felt different than I did at my first retreat in 2019. What I recently felt was a feeling of excitement and joy to be experiencing this wonderful program again. Not everyone gets to participate in such a thing, and I was grateful to be able to be participating in this year's retreat. The last retreat I went to, I was not the most excited since I knew it would be awfully hard for me to withstand such a punctilious schedule. This year, I was more invested in the Dhamma discussions and meditations. And so, I would like to talk about what I learned and my thoughts throughout the days of this retreat. 

    I never would have thought that waking up before 5 in the morning would be so easy. Whenever I woke up, I felt bliss in the air, and my mind was so peaceful and calm. I never felt groggy or had the desire to sleep more. The environment of the temple is part of the reason it was so easy for me to wake up at 4:30 a.m. After waking up, everyone would have a cup of tea and then start the morning meditation. I found the meditation so calming that my mind would stop thinking, and it would listen to the Bhante’s words. Some things that I found difficult at first was staying still, as my legs would start to hurt, or my back would start to lean forward without me noticing. My mind would start to wonder, and I would easily become distracted. Throughout the retreat, I found it easier for me to sit still and observe my surroundings and be able to stop my restless mind from thinking intrusively. 

    One of my favorite parts of this retreat was the Walking Meditation. The most important concept about it is being mindful and I really liked that I could concentrate on practicing it for the next three days. This meditation builds on itself and on you in a way that you become aware of everything. Of course, that level of meditation would take lots of practice, but what I learned what that it is most definitely possible for anyone if they really tried. At this retreat, everyone learned to become more aware of what actions they committed, what words that they spoke, and what thoughts they reminisced about. While doing this meditation I thought about the body parts, internally or externally, that would move. For example, when I inhale, I am aware that the air is entering my nostrils, going through my body to my lungs, and expanding my lungs. As I exhale, the air leaves without oxygen and is now carbon dioxide, and my lungs contract and wait for another breath. The idea of this is to be aware of the sensations you feel, not enjoying them nor disliking them. Just knowing that this is what is happening and that is how it is. At first, I thought I should concentrate on keeping my thoughts away, but what I learned from Bhante Deephankara is to let them happen. If you are aware of thoughts happening, you are practicing the concept of being mindful in this meditation. I could go on about the many different parts of this meditation, but I also want to talk about the principles we had to apply in this retreat. 

    There were several ideas that we had to be more aware of, such as talking too much or singing and dancing. For me, it was not hard to sing or dance but sometimes I would get too comfortable with a friend and talk too much. What I observed is that when I would be aware that I have the desire to share something with someone else, I realize that what I want is a useless thing. It enhanced my ability to internalize my thoughts and just be mindful of what is happening.  

Breakfast and lunch also helped me to internalize my thoughts. Being in the moment was one of the things we talked about in discussions, and I would apply that to this. While we ate, we were advised not to talk and to think about what was happening in the moment. I was learning to be mindful that I was consuming food and that I should be grateful that I have such a luxury in my life. Loku Bhante told us to not think about the past or the future, but to sense the feelings you are feeling at the moment, the thoughts that go through your head, and being mindful of every bite that is placed in your mouth.  

    I am so glad and thankful to have participated in this year’s retreat and will make sure to leave with the principles that I have practiced and the morals that I have learned. I will not let myself forget about the precious time I spent at the temple and will make sure to continue those practices in my daily life. This has already made me a better disciplined person and this experience will help me lead a peaceful life. Spreading loving kindness to everyone is something I want to do more of after this retreat. Practicing mindfulness and getting rid of attachments and selfishness will allow one to be happy, so I am glad that I know what I can do to become happy. There is more to these terms as they mean more meaningful things and so I hope that I will have a deeper understanding of Buddhism as I attend future retreats.  

    Before I can conclude my journal, I would like to thank Taniya Auntie, and all the Auntie’s and Uncles that provided help to make this retreat possible for us. Idesha Akka was also a big part of this retreat, and I cannot thank her enough for helping us make this retreat a great experience for everyone. And I cannot forget about my parents who work so hard so that I will be able to participate in incredible programs like this. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who made my participation a beautiful and blissful experience.  

With loving-kindness, 

Theruwan Saranai. 

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