When were you first exposed to dharma and when/how did you know that this was the path for you?
January 2004. I participated in my first 10 day Vipassana retreat as taught by SN Goenka. It was a profound experience for me. I re-lived deep-seated memories and the emotions that came with them and started the process of shedding old traumas, dramas, and attachments to suffering. I could feel the layers of the onion being peeled away, and see and think more objectively than I ever had. By the end of the 10 days, I surprised myself by simply deciding that this was my path. I usually like to try out different options before settling on any course but knew that what I had learned from Goenka worked for me and felt that it was right. I promised myself that I would sign up for Vipassana retreats every year continue to practice as I could.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
Feeling in touch with dhamma on a daily basis outside of my 30 minute practice can be rare. It depends on how hectic my life is, and how stressed and tired I am. When I remember to, I will focus on my breath or sensations to do a quick recharge or reset of my emotions or energy levels. Whether I feel particularly strong in my practice or not at any given time, I do know that I would be a different person without Vipassana. Cumulatively the practice has given me more self-awareness and perspective on life.
Perhaps in a more concrete way, my current practice gives me 30 minutes daily to quiet my mind as much as possible, and within that space I can step back from myself and more objectively examine the issues that clamour for my attention. I often do a bit of creative problem-solving during this time. Or I tackle an emotion like anxiety or fear and work on letting go of it bit by bit. I try to remind myself that all things are impermanent and that whatever worry, fear, or negativity I have towards something often only holds me back.
The path manifests itself when I get out of my own way. When I trust that things will work out. And when, despite myself in moments of sheer exhaustion, frustration, or what-have-you, I still muster up patience, graciousness, compassion, and a smile in my interaction with others.
How long/often do you mediate?
My practice has fluctuated through the years. I have gone for periods without meditating between retreats, and I have come back from retreats gung ho to meditate two hours every day. Currently I meditate 30 minutes, usually in the morning, daily. There are days that I don’t meditate but over the years those gaps have become fewer and farther apart.
Who is your teacher(s)?