Continuing our theme of S.N. Goenka-inspired wisdom, let’s chat about something he calls “Strong Determination.”
Imagine this: You check yourself in for ten (!!!) days of silence. The last words you’ll speak for those ten days (aside from a few words with your instructor) are “Thank you” when you give all your possible distractions to the staff member collecting your stuff: your computer and your smartphone (it was a Blackberrry for me when I did it ten years ago — lol) (so no internet, email, texts, calls, etc.); your journal (no writing!); your books (no reading!) and anything else that might hook your mind.
You only get to keep your clothes and bedding. No distractions.
And… Pure silence. (You can’t even make eye contact with anyone. Hah!)
Then you get up at 4:00 AM (which used to sound crazy early — now it’s just another day) so you can meditate for ten (!!) hours a day.
I’m pretty sure I hadn’t meditated for a TOTAL of ten hours before I did that retreat (hah) and I nearly left before the end of the second day as I watched my mind jump from THOUGHT to THOUGHT to endless (!) thought as I tried to do the seemingly simple yet proving-to-be-impossible feat of noticing my breath come in and out of my nostrils.
“Can’t I just do it for a few breaths in a row?!?” Nope. Torture. (You may think I’m exaggerating (and I may be a little) but it was a pretty epic experience for a new meditator.)
All of which leads us to the point of Today’s +1.
So, we meditated for ten hours a day in 1-hour chunks. We were allowed to move to a comfortable position during that hour. EXCEPT for three, 1-hour chunks each day (after day four) when we were to sit in “strong determination” during which time we couldn’t move AT ALL — no moving our legs or scratching an itch or opening our eyes to check the time.
This is a reasonably big deal because, as you can imagine if you haven’t done it yet, your body tends to get a little cranky about thirty minutes into it. But you can’t move.
Enter: Strong determination.
You make the decision to not move. Then you ignore all the impulses screaming at you to open your legs or your eyes or your hands.
There were 17 “strong determination” sessions. I had fun going 17 for 17. 🤠
I love recalling those little micro-moments of mastery as a metaphor for all the opportunities to practice every day — whether that’s in our meditation (no moving till you’re done!!) or a Deep Work time block (start? finish!) or even just keeping our phones at bay while hanging out with the fam.
How can you +1 yours today?