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 :-)
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.
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.