It is around nine in the morning, I am sitting on my cushion, legs crossed, covered with a blanket. I am surrounded with about fifty strangers. We are in silence. The air feels crisp and every time I breathe I can feel every single hair move in my nose. Nobody is moving much. Every time someone coughs or move a bit, we can hear it. We have been in silence for the past three days, immersed in meditation for ten hours a day, not looking at each other, living like monks and now we’re at day four of a ten day silent meditation retreat.
In that moment, as we are all quiet and peaceful, a cow starts mooing from the back of the field and the cattle follows into a mooing song. The sound is just so unexpected and unusual that some people start laughing. The cows are mooing and grunting for a good moment. I am not sure how long but they just kept going.
Sitting cross-legged on my cushion, I can hear the cows mooing but I have been attending to an intense sensation and experience of my own. I had an excruciating pain in my hip as soon as I sat for meditation that morning. I tried to observe the sensation without reacting but I was so uncomfortable, I had to move around and no position would take the pain away. I tried everything and nothing would do it. Even the technique I was there to learn was supposed to work through pain, but I was going nowhere.
So I decided to breathe through my pain. I decided to do deep controlled breathing. I focused on getting the inhale all the way to the pain in my hip and visualizing the pain moving out as I was exhaling. I did that for approximately twenty minutes and the transformation began. Something I had never felt before.
It started to tingle in my pelvis. I felt warmth and something awakening. An energy started to move around my pelvic area, rolling and coiling. The serpent like form was spinning in my pelvic area starting slowly and spinning faster and faster. It then started to move up my spine and a big burst of energy came all the way out through my heart and up into my head.
I am sitting cross-legged on my meditation cushion, breathing normally in silence. I notice the pain has completely dissipated.
I am in a state of pure bliss.
I feel at one with everything around me. I don’t feel separated anymore with the people around me, with the air in the room or the building we’re in. I am that.
A moment later, I hear the cows, I hear the reactions around me, and I just let that be what it is.
I dwell into this perfect moment for about two hours until the sitting is done. I feel the energy subsides and I want this moment to continue for the rest of my life.
This was about fifteen years ago. After this enlightening experience, I started a regular meditation practice. I spent three to four hours a day in meditation. My lifestyle was very simple yet very fulfilling. At that time, I went through a deep soul searching dilemma. I questioned the meaning of life, my life. I was clinging on more blissful experiences I had during meditation. States of what we can call « flow » that I couldn’t get in my life, in my mundane life.
I thought I had to choose between getting back in the world to live my life or choosing to move into a monastery far in India or Tibet to deepen my meditation practice and live in bliss. I didn’t see the need to go out into the world and work just to pay the bills, and I no longer felt the need to accumulate stuff or I wasn’t interested in seeking pleasurable experiences. I was cultivating equanimity moment to moment, but I was torn inside.
It took me a few months to find meaning in my own life. I had to go through uncertainty and surrender to not knowing and to recognise that my life was worth living – out in the world – because my purpose was to be self-actualized in a mundane life and not in a monastery. I knew that if I was going to choose the monastic lifestyle, I was running away from something I had to accomplish in the world. My dilemma was creating the space for the realization of my Self.