“Are you connecting with your breath?” Rev. Haju asks me, leaning forward to inspect my posture. Her eyes are hawk-sharp but loving. It’s a powerful combination. I close my eyes and let go. I am not always good at that. For someone with ambition, letting go can be quite alien. Striving, trying to force things to be a certain way, are habits I slip into as soon as I stop paying attention. But the Rev.’s watchful eyes are incentive to pay attention. To prove that I can let go. That I know how. And the act of proving reminds me what it feels like.
Almost everyone I know worries at times, some more than others. A very few lucky people report little to no worrying. I’m not one of them. In periods of high stress, it even affects my sleep. I have a hard time falling asleep or I wake up frequently thinking about the same thing over and over. Worrying can involve anxiety, fear, anger, hopelessness, irritability, hostility, helplessness, and depression. It takes its toll on our physical health—headaches, stomach aches, migraines, sleeplessness, fatigue…the list goes on.
At the end of a silent meditation retreat at Triple Crane Monastery, we often hear that people experienced many kinds of benefits such as: increased flexibility, increased energy, a reduction in stress and anxiety, a feeling of being more connected to their own senses, more happiness, a discovery of their innate abilities, more insight, and an increase in wisdom. However, some may say these are only the superficial benefits of meditation. Are there greater benefits from a truly deep meditation?