Gentle Readers, tonight I leave for a 10-day meditation retreat. It will be held in a village called Bada, in Kutch. I am excited because I hear that the center is very beautiful as it's right on the coast with immaculate beaches and clear waters.
Recently I was having a conversation with someone and the topic of 10-day Vipassana courses came up. Why do you isolate yourself for 10 days? It is escapism. You should not run away from your problems.
This is a common misunderstanding about the course, which almost always comes from someone who has not attended one themselves. I go to this course every year for the exact opposite reason. I am not going anywhere, and I don't want to go anywhere. I know I have to live in this world. But I want to live well, to deal with my problems effectively. I want be a happy, harmonious, productive person. Meditation is my best tool for achieving this goal.
There is a scene in Harry Potter where he has to go to the secret enchanted shop to buy his wizard supplies before going to Hogwarts. To his surprise the shop is smack dab on a busy street in the middle of the city. There is just a small unassuming entrance that thousands of people walked by everyday but never noticed. Had any of them paid attention, they would have found an amazing new world.
I think happiness works the same way. It's right there, right in front of us. But everyday we walk past it because we aren't paying attention. Meditation gives me the eyeballs, the lens, to spot that door to happiness. During the 10 days I will have the opportunity to practice meditation intensely, to purify that lens as much as possible. It's a blessing to have the chance. I am grateful to my parents and my friends and family and co-workers for giving me the space to be a better person.
To move forward, retreat.