It has been one month since I have returned from my third 10-day, silent meditation retreat. The style of meditation I practice is Vipassana
meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka. Of all the various forms of meditation and yoga I have practiced, I find this to be the greatest. A lot of these practices create blissful feelings on the surface level of the mind and body, and maybe on a slightly deeper level - which is good - but Vipassana works at the root level of the mind, eradicates deep seated mental complexes, and uproots the sources of our suffering. It is the meditation technique that was discovered by Siddhartha Guatama (the original Buddha), and it is what led him to full enlightenment and liberation...aka, Nirvana.
Although this meditation technique is from the Buddha, it does not require anyone to be a Buddhist, nor does it try to convert anyone from their religion. It is completely non-sectarian and it stresses that suffering is a universal problem, so it is offered as a universal remedy. All are welcome and there is no weird religious or cult-like vibe going on at all.
This technique of Vipassana has been maintained in its pristine purity for the past 2,5000 years in the country of Burma (now Mynamar) and recently began spreading throughout the world again. If you wish to learn more about it, you can check out the website - www.dhamma.org
What I got out of this retreat was the wisdom that no thing outside of myself has the power to make me unhappy or happy. It is 100% my responsibility to choose how I react to any experience. This is easy enough to understand intellectually, but by sitting for 10 days and meditating for 10 hours a day (with breaks of course) I got the opportunity to see how the process of reaction, suffering, happiness, etc... unfolds within me, and learned it all on a deep experiential level. I feel happiness that is independent of outside circumstances and am able to maintain balance in the midst of turmoil.
I also got a ton of inspiration for music and have been recording non-stop since I got home. I just finished recording the first of two albums I am working on. The finishing touches are being put on it and it will be released soon. This album is called "Pain & Joy". The songs were written in 1999 & 2001, and I finally got the inspiration to record them properly. This album will be available on http://alecbridges.bandcamp.com
for all to download for any price they choose (including free). 100% of the money made from this album will go towards a program I am creating with some friends that will be for people that want to go to one of these 10-day Vipassana retreats but cannot afford to take the time off. These courses are run completely by donation, so in actuality, it does not cost anything to go to them, but it can be hard to afford taking the time off to get away. My hope is to find other artists who want to contribute music, paintings, clothing, ANYTHING!, to this fund so that everyone that wants to attend a Vipassana meditation course is able to.
Stay tuned for more information on the new album and other happenings.