June 21, 2014

Lived like a monk

My monk look: trimmed hair, grey clothes, a smile :-)

In June 2014 I started a new experiment which was to live like a monk for one year. Why? I'll try to explain.

Sometimes it's difficult to describe all the ways meditation has improved the way I live and experience my life, because it's subtle, and has had an impact on everything. To name some things, it's helped me become more aware of:

  • all the fears inside of me.
  • the amount of space, peace and love you can cultivate inside of you.
  • in which ways my thoughts and emotions influence each other.
  • all the ideas I have about myself (and in what way most of them - if not all - are incorrect).
  • the expectations I have of myself and where they come from.
  • that everything is constantly changing.

And it's more and more allowing me to:

  • walk towards my fears with enthousiasm.
  • live life as I wish, without worrying about how things should be.
  • love everything, even the ugly parts.
  • let go of things which aren't making life more wonderful.

As you can read, I'm a fan of meditation :-)

The Experiment

After coming back from a great meditation retreat in Plum Village I became curious to see what would happen if I spend one year foccussed on meditation, and in a way, live like the monks do in Plum Village.

So I cut my hair.

Photo by Annette Behrens

Put on some grey clothes, did a lot of meditation and tried to live according to the 10 novice precepts of Plum Village, for one year.

Sounds easy no? :-)

How did it go?

Well, I'm super happy I went for it, but it wasn't always easy.

In retrospect sometimes I think it might have been easier to spend this year in an actual monastery then living like this in the middle of the city. Because living a livestyle which is in many ways so different from the people around you, is challenging and requires a lot of willpower. While you don't want to do something like this out of pure mental force, but out of inspiration and with a lot of love.

But I didn't do this experiment for it to be easy right? I did it to see what would happen.

An experiment never fails, because you always get a result.

Some of the results are that I experience the benefit of meditation even more then before, which is inspiring. So by now I have a solid meditation habbit, almost every morning and sometimes evening I sit. Next to that mindfulness became more part of my daily life, while eating, sitting, listening, etc... Getting me out of habitually reacting and giving me freedom to live a life from love.

I've had some great support from friends, most notably Jente, with whom I started this project from the beginning and who joined in as a 'monkie' for the last half year. Together we organised retreats and events at our home, which was awesome.

Walking meditation at Park Schoonoord, Rotterdam.