I was just back from a ten-day meditation retreat.
Ten days of no talking, no contact with other humans. All that we had to do was concentrate on our breath.
It sounded simple in the brochures but turned out to be complicated stuff when put into practice.
Ten days later, I returned refreshed and recharged.
Before I could ring the bell, the door opened, and my wife rushed out.
“I have to go out to buy the groceries,” my wife said, managing a smile.
As I closed the door behind her, the bell rang.
It was the watchman with a hand full of bills.
I was checking them when my son opened the door of his room.
“The roof is leaking. I have moved my desktop for now. You need to get the waterproofing done.”
I was back in my world of mindfully worrying!
“Focus on your breath!”
The voice of the teacher cut through the silence in the room.
I shifted my attention from the aching ankle to my itching nose.
“Focus on the breath as it comes in.
Notice there is a brief pause.
Now focus on the breath as it flows back out!”
The instructions were clear.
My mind was not.
I had left my wife, son, a busy work schedule, hundreds of emails and bills for this ten-day meditation retreat.
I peeped at the others through half-closed eyes.
The hall was full of men in various shapes and sizes.
Most of them seemed to be in agony.
The instructor was looking at me, and I shut my eyes immediately.
It was day one.
There were nine more days of breathing to go.
In all this peace and meditation, I was missing the chaos of my world!
“Cut every one of the trees!” I said.
The men looked at me to check if I was serious.
I was planning to build a house, and the land needed clearing up.
In a couple of hours, they had cut down what had stood there for decades.
After paying the woodcutters off, I went to check if everything was in order.
I was satisfied. With all the tree stumps finally, construction could start.
Then I noticed something strange. All along the boundary walls, I could see birds. Crows, magpies, pigeons and even a kingfisher . All looking in my direction.
“You cut down our home to build yours!”
They seemed to be saying.
I felt uncomfortable under their scrutiny.
“Once my house gets built, I will plant more trees. I promise.”
I said it out loud.
Not convinced, they kept watching me.