I recently heard a wise man say to “observe the misery and gain wisdom from the misery”. I was struck by the power and application of this instruction, especially because the same wise man couples this statement with the inevitability of change. This post unpacks the statement in how it relates both individually and collectively, and ultimately helps to understand how it leads us to empowered happiness.
Okay, okay … yes, I did just complete my first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. So yes, my lens has been shifted to see more of the habit-patterns not only within myself but equally outside myself as well. The night I returned home from a week and a half of meditative silence and introspection I cried for hours.
Like a baptism into the realm of awareness and equanimity, I cried.
The 10-days was a rollercoaster of subtle proportions. The location and weather were purely delightful – well fed, well slept, well chaperoned by nearby Mount Cooroora in Pomona. The setting held the space in such a way that meditators had nothing to consider or do beside follow the gong’s instruction to move onto the next session, and then, do the work. And work I did for 10 meditative hours a day, following all of S.N. Goenka’s clear and eloquent instructions.
The darling Burmese born and raised Indian man, Goenka, opened the doorway to this Dharmic meditation methodology for us in the modern world; a doorway that had been previously popluarised 2,500 years earlier by Goutama Buddha. The Vipassana method is entirely simple, practical and experientially based, far from the cosmic out-of-body soul journeys of many a guru. It’s basis is awareness and equanimity/non-reaction in feeling sensation on and in the body, observing and responding rather than mindlessly being thrown around by the conditioned experiences of our mind-body where we react without realising. The purpose is to allow healing within the psycho-somatic relationship with the aid of awareness and equanimity, releasing/liberating stored energy patterns, ultimately allowing for all beings to be happy. Truly … happy.
The technique is potent in it’s impact on the body, allowing the meditator to move from the gross (i.e. obvious) to subtle bodily experiences. Clearly guided to be patient, persistent, diligent, vigilant and intelligent, I couldn’t help but see the parallels of this approach to many of those catalogued in my fractal kaleidoscope of integral frameworks applying to us humans.
As you may well know, my lens for the world is strongly guided by pattern recognition, honing in on approaches speaking similar languages - those multivalent archetypal understandings helping us humans thrive with the laws of nature. Much of what’s spoken through these pattern languages is the idea of SELF RESPONSIBILITY. I touched on this concept in my last post titled ‘The Choice Is Yours’, exploring the creative potential of taking care of our health in the name of self responsibility. I was thrilled to see this approach very clearly articulated in Vipassana meditation. We, ourselves, are the only ones who can liberate our bodies from the deeply stored energies of trauma (and karmic perpetuation, as Goenka explains). And the keys to tapping into those deeply stored septic energies are awareness and non-reaction.
This leads to the fractal parallels. Sociocracy, a collaborative, whole-systems methodology for governance and decision-making requires similar of individuals working collectively toward common aims. In sociocracy there is no room for the victim mentality. If one has a problem, they are responsible for considering a solution and putting it forward as a proposal to the appropriate circle/department who uses the protocol of consent decision-making to ensure the idea is vetted with effectiveness, transparency and equivalence. In Vipassana, we stream enmasse over every little part of our body to perceive the bodily sensation, no matter how subtle or gross. Likewise for an organisation using sociocracy, decision-making within circles is conducted with a diligence to ‘scanning’ each individual in the collective for their feedback/input. This guided protocol of hearing each individual’s input - where others are not able to ‘cross-talk’ or comment at that moment - allows for non-reactivity and cultivates awareness of the human components making the greater whole before yay’ing or nay’ing in consent for the proposal. The pure act of observing and neutrally receiving what each person is experiencing provides potent means to be real with what is within a group of humans.
Something else that really hit home in Vipassana meditation is the notion that we (the individuals), and only we, need to do the ‘work’. I need to sit patiently and persistently, in awareness non-reactivity, perceiving sensation and releasing it – no one else can do it for me. No other entity/force/energy/thing is going to bring the release to our body/mind. That’s to say: there’s no magic pill. If I do the work, I will reap the benefits of doing so. If I don’t do the work, then I spin the same patterns and conditioning.
Similarly in sociocracy, there’s no magic pill either. The framework is one supporting the obtaining of a yield in ways efficient and defined; but it still isn’t a magic pill. The people in the organisation MUST do the work – they must put forward the proposals and work through them to achieve an outcome, they must review those decisions, refining and evolving them. The people must bring their whole selves to the group to honestly and integrally share feedback to help the system be greater than the sum of it’s parts.
This challenges many of us in the modern world because we’re quite used to a higher authority telling us what to do – without opportunity to input and co-develop the situation to allow all needs to be met. We’re conditioned to hand-over our leadership, where many of us have lost touch with the power of having our say heard and integrated into the decision at hand. Or perhaps we’re used to being the higher power, unfamiliar with hearing what others have to say and unfamiliar with allowing distributed leadership of the collective situation. Having a framework to support us to all be leaders together is vital for those of us unfamilar with true and empowered collaboration. Much like in sociocracy.
Coming home from Vipassana and integrating it into my life is an ongoing process. It’s one that I must accept will show me the plain truth of those areas I’m out-of-whack with regarding my ideals for being a balanced, functional and thriving human. And that’s okay, I’m realising. Because now I’m seeing what’s out-of-whack with more clarity, and accepting it neutrally and purely as information. This allows me to have the choice and consideration for change – allowing my higher self to chime in with ways to move forward with more balance. Or at the least giving me space to explore what might better serve me and those I relate to in life. It’s a process of continual improvement based on observing the feedback loops of behaviours, feelings and other's responses in interacting with me.
I’m also integrating an hour of meditation morning and night; something that initially felt daunting and overwhelming. I chose to approach this step-by-step, just doing the next meditation sitting without needing to see how every hour of meditation will fit into my life. And somehow, with the grace of taking it piece-by-piece, I have generally been regular in my new meditation practice. It has happened with the grace of dedication and acceptance for what realistically is possible when the moment arrives. My aim is to meditate an hour day and night for at least a year – I figure by that stage daily meditation will be normalised and I’ll be programmed to keep going (here’s hoping).
Doing the work, with awareness and non-reactivity – observing the misery and gaining wisdom from the misery, knowing that change is inevitable. It’s shown to not be so daunting and intense as I might have first imagined. It simply happens when the space is provided for it to happen. More than anything, it's been releasing, liberating and empowering.
I do hope this post has been revealing and enlightening for you in some way. Please comment below if you have insights to the power of Vipassana meditation and/or the empowerment provided through the framework of sociocracy. Blessings to you in being real with what is and allowing yourself to progress, step-by-step, to be who you are as an evolving life being.
P.S. With all of that said, I use this post to celebrate the release of this blog and website – Another Divine Fractal – one year ago in August 2016. This site is the result of an inkling that it would be beneficial for me to ‘go public’ with my thoughts and ideas about thriving and collaborative people. This site is propelling me to do the ‘work’ of clarifying my ideas and communicate them to a broader audience. I’m deeply grateful to the technology of the 21st century enabling contact and connection through the cyber waves. To be able to broadcast my own unique individual perceptions of humans and the world is a major blessing. And it’s through this process I embrace awareness and equanimity, observing and responding to the world and it’s potential with graciousness as I train myself to be more regular with writing and posting.
P.P.S. To find out more about the donation-based Vipassana meditation retreats around the world, check out www.dhamma.org
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