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“Welcome back!”

“Welcome back! Lydia, how are you?” “I am… Happy.”

That’s my response, when my colleague welcomed me back warmly in the office the day after the retreat. Though I arrived at 4am in the morning, with little sleep, I felt a deep sense of joy and gratitude inside me. My sister, Emileigh and I took the 12am flight from Taipei to Singapore, spent 3 hours in the airport, sharing and reflecting what we have learned during the retreat before I head to office that day. I felt joyful, fresh, and happy.

Participating in a meditation retreat has always been my priority in my annual planning. With the blessings from my boss, Richard Tan and my family, I was able to attend retreats, twice a year. Hence, for me, attending retreats are very precious. Many conditions have to be in place for the retreat to happen and for me to complete it. And it was exactly this preciousness and emphasis I had for the retreat, had caused me some worries.

My 1st day in the retreat was filled with joy, hope, and an underlining worry which was increasingly disturbing. And regardless how I applied the method, worries were the major wandering thoughts Our retreat teacher, Zarko, in his 1st dharma talk, said, let go of expectation and worries, be truly arrive. I realised, my body was in the Chan hall, but my mind, has not truly arrived. How many times in my life, I haven’t been truly arrived, instead, occupying myself with worries and expectations?

As I was “trying” to apply method, and telling myself not to worry, seemed like it didn’t work…

The help came on day 3, when I had a chance to go for an interview with Guo Xing Fashi. And he made me understand, it is very normal for our main stream thought patterns to prevail. Hence, we need to have the awareness and persistence to practice, to make the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar, familiar. Making the familiar habitual thinking pattern that was based on greed, anger and ignorance unfamiliar; and making the wise, compassion thinking pattern familiar. And this shift has helped me…
I came across a feeling of tension and stress as I was practicing the method. Instead of feeling relaxed, I was actually more tensed up when I was trying to relax. And it suddenly daunt on me… I was not relaxing, I was “trying” to relax. And it is the “Trying” that was causing tension, not the relaxation itself. Hence I changed my approach, as Nike said it best, Just Do It! I Just “FEEL” it, instead of “trying” to feel it.


In my workplace, some of my colleagues are very curious of why I insist to go away for retreats every year. I encourage them to experience for themselves, coz I know, it will be beneficial to them for sure, if, they are willing. In one of the dharma talk, Zarko reaffirmed our decision to practice and to attend the retreat. As he was explaining about the importance of our sitting posture, he said, the posture is the posture of a hero. A hero that is ready to face anything in front of him. And in meditation, we are facing ourselves. Many people misunderstand about meditation. They thought meditation or attending retreat is escaping into solitude or running away from something. But the fact is, people that don’t meditate are running away from facing themselves, and escape into the busy-ness of life. I am glad I make it a priority and make time for retreats.

In sitting, I faced my own crazy wandering thoughts, I saw my blind spots which govern my way of life, and I faced my physical challenge when dealing with pain. And through that, I saw how I had been dealing with my life, and how I can improve it and subsequently improve the quality of my life and the people around me.

I am very grateful to all the Fashi and volunteers that hold the space for us to practice. During retreat, everything was taken care of and participants only need to take care of their method. It was such a blessing.

As days passed by after the retreat, the effect of the retreat slowly subsided, but the essence and the learning remains. Our wish is to be able to attend regular retreats, as Shifu once said, attending intensive retreat is like washing our face. It has to be done regularly, to keep our face clean and clear. I vow to attend retreats regularly, to keep my mind clean and clear : )

Written by: Lydia Shin Yee (陳欣懿), Singapore

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