Sitting in meditation from 6am - 9pm, two days in a row seems a little daunting don't you think? That's what I thought when this idea was first brought to me but not any more. So what makes me look forward to sitting on my cushion for 15 hours a day, only eat for health and only get up to walk in meditation? Choices, that's what!
When you walk into a Dharma Room all choices disappear. All feelings, perceptions, impulses, arrogance - gone. When its time to bow, you bow. When its time to chant, you chant. When its time to sit, you sit. It doesn't matter if you do or don't want to. It doesn't matter if you are tired and it doesn't matter if you are dressed comfortably. When its time to eat you eat only what it takes to sustain your practice. You eat what is served or you don't eat. It doesn't matter if you have to pee like a Rusian racehourse, you don't leave the Dharma Room except during walking meditation and you better pee fast because you are to return before sitting resumes. When you leave, you bow and when you enter again, you bow!
I know what your thinking, that all these rules are crazy, too strict, right? Well, all these things are what makes me want to sit retreats.
Every day of my life is filled with decisions. What time to get up, what to wear, what to feed my kids, whether I should cry or smile, what should I do to make it through another day, and on and on and on. Every night I go to sleep thinking about all these decisions. Whether or not I achieved all I set out for while making these decisions. Whether or no my decisions affected the ones I love. Whether or not they were right or wrong. Everything I decided in the morning I am able to see and think about at night. This is a lot for a person who is struggling with depression, has 3 kids (one with chronic illness) and a home and a husband. Agreed?
When I enter a retreat my choices, my ability to make decisions is taken away. Unlike a regular day I don't have to decide anything. I don't have to choose. I just do - bow, chant, sit, eat. I have no choice. Isn't that lovely?!