After my first 10-day Vipassana meditation course

On Wednesday, August 9, I got up early, loaded my car, made a home visit to massage one of my regular clients, and drove from Austin to Kaufman, Texas, a 3.5 hour drive.

BTW, my client commented afterwards that it was really a great massage. He even had a waking lucid dream toward the end of the session. I attribute that to his learned ability to relax deeply while staying awake and to me having more presence and being more tuned into him and myself. I knew that for the next 10 days, I’d be stepping out of my everyday life and meditating quite a lot without distractions. I didn’t have my normal everyday thoughts about logistics (travel, meals, timing, errands), which made a huge difference in my ability to really be present. So it started before I even left town.


I arrived at the Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center near Kaufman mid-afternoon. I registered, was assigned a room in the women’s dorm, and surrendered my wallet and cell phone. I had left books, computer, and writing materials at home.

I unloaded my stuff and set up my room, which was small, furnished with an extra-long twin bed and a plastic chair and small table, with open shelves and a place to hang clothing, and a bathroom with a shower. And a big window looking out on trees and clothesline. Very simple and adequate, and yet this particular Vipassana center is considered one of the more luxurious centers worldwide.There was an orientation, a meal, and our first sitting in the meditation hall. We went into silence after that: no conversations, except that every other day we were brought in groups of about 6 to meet with an assistant teacher, who asked us questions about how our meditation practice was going: “Are you able to focus your attention on the sensations in your nostrils? Can you go one minute without a thought? Can you move your legs only 3 times in an hour?” We were also able to sign up in advance to meet one-on-one with our assistant teacher after lunch, which I did on day 7. These sessions were 5-8 minutes long and are intended for when you are having problems meditating.

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How to lose and find something with equanimity

This past Saturday morning, I prepared to go to a weekend workshop, Harmonics of Healing, with Tom Best and Steve Daniel. (Tom is my long-time NLP trainer, whom I now assist at trainings, and Steve is a didgeridoo player and sound healer extraordinaire.) Held at the Tree of Life Sanctuary in Radiance south of Austin, I was planning to sleep over and packing my sleeping bag, ice chest, and the various items I’d need over the weekend.

I got everything loaded in my car. Ready to leave, I reached in my shoulder bag for my keys — and they weren’t there.

Searched bag. Searched front seat, floor, sides of passenger seat, all around driver’s seat. Checked ground between front door and car.

No keys.

Thought maybe I’d left them inside the house, now locked. Climbed in through a window and searched. No keys.

Perhaps because I was on my way to a workshop/retreat, I began observing myself. I realized that every time I lose something, it’s as if I’ve never lost anything before. I seethe with impatience and frustration and arrogance.

How dare those keys go missing right when I’m ready to leave?

Just that bit of self-awareness helped me slow down and realize that I’ve lost things many times before. This is not a new experience.  There is something familiar about this. The Native American tradition gave us Trickster. When items go missing, it’s Trickster, playing games.

My keys are hiding from me! How cute! How precocious of them! What a surprise!

From this perspective, losing my keys became very, very funny! I called Katie and told her my keys were hiding from me, and that I didn’t know when I’d be there. I was smiling as I called.

I also noticed that I had switched from mainland time to island time. Trickster feeds off pomposity and arrogance and loves to make people look like buffoons. Getting present instead of racing ahead mentally to the next thing is one of the best things to do.

I remembered a technique for lessening anxiety called Mind Juggling, and that is to toss a ball from hand to hand with my eyes gazing up. The activity and eye direction change one’s state. I got out a tennis ball and began tossing it from hand to hand, gazing up to where the wall meets the ceiling.

After a bit, I got an impulse to bring in some yoga props from the back seat of my car. I’d been intending to do that for a while. Why not now?

As I was removing yoga blocks, from the corner of my eye, I saw my keys on the ledge behind the seat. Just where I’d set them when I had loaded the car, cramming the ice chest in.

I had completely filtered that out from my memory.

Ahhhh. Game over. I win. Thank you, Trickster, for your lessons and the stretching I develop to meet the moment.

Keys in hand, I locked the house and went to my workshop/retreat, which was lovely.

When I got home Sunday evening, I unloaded the car and put things away. I made myself a cup of tea and was ready to sit down and check email.

Guess what? No laptop. And no keyboard, mouse, carrying case, DVD/VCR player, antique flute.

My house had been burglarized.

Stay tuned for more about loss.