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THIS IS DUNCAN
Edited Words: 152,263
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December 19, 2005

Seclusion

Here I am four days into a seclusion retreat: and what have I learned? I have learned that I am a compulsive doer. My worth is somehow measured, ounce by painful ounce, through what I produce. Sleeping is one thing that Iíve done a lot of. Iíve been sleeping about eleven hours; eight at night and three or four in the afternoon.

I am staying at the Ananda Meditation Retreat in the middle of the woods somewhere near Nevada City in Northern California. The darkness is impenetrable and the silence delicious. I took the battery out of the wall clock because the ticking was distracting me.

Iím in a very comfortable cabin with two bedrooms, a living room and a little kitchen with a fridge. The place is nice and warm with propane heaters. There are electric lights and power for my laptop.

So Iíve been finding my inner couch potato. Itís a real art: just doing nothing. I get out into the wilderness each day, I read, I eat three meals a day, and I meditate. Apart from that, thereís just a lot of spare time, and itís really good for me. I canít escape from the loneliness, the edginess or the deadness. I have to look deeper into myself: thereís just nothing else to do. I spend a lot of time noticing how Iím feeling: oh I see, youíre angry; thatís loneliness; youíre sad now; youíre really scared arenít you. And thatís as it should be. I wear a badge at meal times telling the half-dozen other people that Iím in silence and I eat away from the group at the end of the room. At first, I felt really bad doing so, and that became part of my process.

Since Iím at a meditation retreat, I have been doing a bit of seated contemplation: about four hours in a day. That might sound like a lot, but it doesnít feel like a lot to me, at least for someone on retreat. I only do that to pass the time anyway. What Iím really here for is to sleep late, read books and walk in the woods. And my mind is becoming crystal clear as a consequence.

I went for a long walk in the woods with six-year-old Duncan on Sunday. We talked about a lot of things, out loud, during that walk. It was amazing; he was able to answer all of my questions. The only question he wouldnít answer was the most important of all: "Who am I?" He said that I had to figure that out for myself. When I asked him why that was he told me that itís all part of the beauty of the process.

Related link: Ananda Meditation Retreat

"I just want to thank you for your including me in your process. When I first saw the volume of your mails I thought, wow, the man is on fire with his growing process. Now I think you are approaching insights that can only come by staying the path for oneself with the kind of fortitude you have been living. I admire it and wish to tell you that I love you for your vulnerability, and your bravery, and your little boy inside as well. Many blessings, blessings, blessings, from one who has also suffered and feels the brotherhood in this mess called relationships." — Michael

 

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