Hello from the Jungle
I’m writing this from the villa here in the jungle in Bali. Just took the picture of the lotus flower above. Despite the fact that it’s clean, beautiful, and modern where we live, nature is very present; the entire jungle surrounds us with various insects and animals. Yesterday, a huge spider fell onto my meditation cushion shortly after I had stood up. Nature serves as a fantastic teacher in mindfulness, as Ajahn Sucitto often emphasizes. It teaches me so much. When I walk here, I can’t be absent-minded; I must be extremely attentive, as every step could be the last. Snakes, spiders, and scorpions might end up under my flip-flops. Death is present in every step. Hence, life as well.
In the first weeks here, we did an online retreat with our teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya, and now we are on day 9 out of 14 of an amazing Metta Bhavana retreat online with Ariya and Virañani. Tomorrow, it’s time to move on. For us, it will be a new retreat, a yoga and pranayama retreat in a new jungle. After that, a bit of beach vacation. More about that in the next letter.
Letting go – aging, illness, and death
During my stay here, I also studied Buddhist suttas from the script ”Beyond Coping – A Study Guide on Aging, Illness, Death & Separation” (you can download it for free here), compiled by Thanissaro Bikkhu. In one passage, Buddha states that you cannot travel anywhere in this universe without encountering suffering, stress, aging, and death. But those who engage in Dhamma/mindfulness will discover that the entire cosmos exists within this body and that the end of stress and suffering is right here. In the body. Here and now. The body is always here and now.
For many, their own body becomes an object and an ongoing project to complain about and constantly try to improve. This is incredibly stressful for our precious bodies, which primarily need love and acceptance.
The combination of Yin Yoga & Metta, Loving-kindness, can change these destructive patterns of self-criticism and criticism of others into acceptance and letting go. To become free. To become happier, even if it’s just 5%.
How I’ve been helped by Yin Yoga & Metta Bhavana – The Four Brahma Viharas
Brahma Viharas roughly means Heavenly Abodes, but also boundless practices. Loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are limitless, without obstacles. They are infinite, eternal, and immeassurable. We just need to cultivate them in our own heart-minds. Personally, these meditation practices combined with Yin Yoga have become essential for me. They’ve helped me through the deaths of loved ones, my own and others’ illnesses. They’ve guided me through stress, aggression attacks (both from me and from others), they’ve supported me during a difficult PTSD period in my life, and they help me now, both in increasing my happiness – much more than 5%, and also in dealing with my ongoing menopausal period. They help me let go of what needs to pass and embrace the new. Here is a guided Metta-meditation with me.
Why do i live?
Just asking yourself that question can be immensely rewarding. Just silently ask it in your mind. Over and over again. Expect no answers. Slowly, life will give you small answers. The more you ask, the more small answers you get.