Before Trisikkha, I worked as a doctor in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Every day, I faced the stress of seeing sickness and even death in children and babies. In the days leading up to the meditation retreat, I was filled with anger, doubt, and ego. I could tell these negative emotions were worsening, but I did not know how to deal with them. At the airport, I found out my flight from Chicago to Tampa was delayed 3 hours. Exhausted after working a 28 hour shift, I felt very frustrated. This is just one example of how easily angered I was. With the delay, I arrived at Trisikkha at 2 a.m. However, I could feel my negativity start to disappear the moment we arrived. Even in the darkness, I could sense tranquility and beauty.
Even though I have been on other meditation retreats over the years, this was my first time at Trisikkha. I did not know what to expect. In the morning, I made it to the second teaching and meditation session of the day. I met Ajahn Willie who welcomed me warmly. Even after meeting me briefly, he was able to teach me specifically and tailor his advice to my strengths and weaknesses.
The format of a day at Trisikkha is four sessions from morning to evening, each consisting of lectures and meditation (both sitting and walking). The first and last sessions include chanting meditation as well. Most of the teaching was in Thai, but English sessions were held every afternoon in English. From different Buddhist instructors over the years, I have learned some concepts of meditation. At Trisikkha, I learned the teaching of the Dhamma with clarity that I have never had before. No one has ever explained the Dhamma to me the way Ajahn Willie does.
The Buddhist meditation practicer must experience the Buddha's teaching for him or herself. Some key concepts that Ajahn Willie taught include: being the watcher of one's body and mind, the 5 aggregates of body and mind, the impermanence/ imperfection/ non-self of all things, and the law of karma. These concepts are the beginning of the end of suffering.
At Trisikkha, I was with others who were trying to understand the Buddha's teaching just like I was. These were kind, sincere people at all different points along the path of understanding and practice. All were welcome. On the meditation ground itself were tall shady acorn trees, bright colorful plants, and golden statues of the Buddha. In meditation practice, we are taught to be aware of our liking and disliking. I found myself constantly knowing “liking” of my awe of the serenity and beauty around me.
This retreat taught me how to end my own suffering. I realize I held on to anger from a small insult from a friend weeks ago. My stress stemmed from not being in the present moment with my patients. I did not have loving kindness and instead was giving but expecting returns. We take time to exercise our bodies, to clean our houses, and to help our families. But we need to remember to purify and strengthen our own minds. Starting from our thoughts, our words and actions arise. With awareness, we can create good karma and stop suffering. Since the retreat, people have said I have a brighter face and personality. They said I have changed for the better.
Written by Katie K.