Regrets, I’ve Had a Few…
Why do what you will regret?
Why bring tears upon yourself?
Do only what you do not regret.
And fill yourself with joy
~ Gautama Buddha
When I look back and reflect on my life, there are quite a few things I wish I had done differently. Poor choices, and rushed decisions, from heartbreaking tales of loss, abuse and missed opportunities, to losing the one that got away, and insisting on re-opening doors that had been shut, to picking the wrong partner… The list is endless.
Allowing others to define us, and giving too much importance to their idea of how we should live. Or worse still, defining our own selves by what we do, and feeling we are better for having done something in particular, when the truth is that we are already valuable just as we are. By the time we come to this juncture, we have lost so much precious time and energy, and realize that life has passed us by.
“The trouble is you think you have time” ~ Buddha
Given that hindsight is 20/20 we can see things far differently, and often with more clarity, after the fact. Knowing what I know now, and looking at the decisions in context based on what I knew then, and what my feelings were at the time, I can overcome the regrets. Hopefully I can now be mindful, having learnt all those lessons, to make different and smarter choices in moving forward. Choices that will grant me peace and joy by extending kindness to myself as well as others who I let in, and those who choose to be in my life.
It’s strange but wonderful that once we detach from the need to please others we are able to analyze and know what our true dreams are. And then the Universe opens all sorts of doors, and sends everything and everyone we need to realize those dreams.
However, this realization did not come to me overnight.
A while ago, when I was experiencing my darkest hour, treading thru the Dark Night of the Soul if you will, I heard of a meditation center, a silent retreat in Thailand, and decided that I needed to pay a visit. Perhaps there I would find some answers to my most pressing life questions, and hopefully regain some of the peace that eluded me and which I craved so much. Since I took several trips a year to visit my family in Bangkok, I snuck away for ten days prior to visiting them, to experience this Vipasana Meditation journey and to delve deep into my soul.
I had heard how challenging it could be to remain silent, with no phones, no computers and no books, not even the basic task of writing and journaling. But I was not at all prepared for what I had signed up for.
From the time I entered Wat Rampoeng, the Northern Insight Meditation Center, I was mentally challenged. Absolute silence greeted me as there was no socializing allowed. Everyone was clad in all white, practicing mindful walking and then participating in seated meditation practices at intervals. Bells rang for meals, which were taken in silence, and prayers were chanted before each meal. We washed our own dishes, clothes, cleaned our own rooms, and basically lived in a cocoon with only our thoughts to keep us company.
From the time I woke up at 4:00AM for mindfulness meditation practice to the time I went to bed at 10:00PM, I was silent. The only break I had was when I reported to our teacher once a day to briefly tell her about my experience that day, but never to complain.
Mindful at all times of my body, my feelings, my mind and my posture while standing, sitting, walking or laying down. Walking steps included acknowledging ‘right’ if I moved to the right, and ‘left’ if I moved to the left. I was taught to observe each and every action I took and especially to pay attention to the rise and fall of the belly while breathing. I came to terms with my likes, dislikes, anxieties and doubts, pleasures and displeasures. For instance if I was drowsy, I would say to myself “drowsy, drowsy, drowsy”. Or if I felt anxious, I would say “anxious, anxious, anxious”. With each and every feeling I experienced, I was to repeat the feeling in my mind three times every time. That really kept me busy!
Over all, I was in the moment at every moment.
What came out of those ten days was that I learnt about the benefit of solitude, about impermanence, suffering and non-self. I learnt to be more patient with myself, and to understand and accept my imperfections, and most of all to forgive all, including and especially myself.
I don’t beat myself up as I used to. And have learnt that it is futile to spend my life regretting what could or should have been.
Try it. It’s very freeing…
“In the end, only three things matter:
How much you loved
How gently you lived
And how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”