Going into or coming out of retreats, there is an invitation for me to ask: How much difference is there for me between retreat and daily life? How do I experience that difference?
And if the difference is quite noticeable, there is an invitation for another question: How – if at all – am I drawn to bring my practice more into daily life? How would that look?
My wife is finishing a retreat with Adyashanti later today, and it reminds me of the common experience of retreat re-entry.
Retreats are helpful in that they give us time and structure for on-the-cushion practice. It can support a more stable attention, a more refined inquiry, and much more.
Yet, a practice that runs throughout daily life is also very helpful. For instance, a practice of wholeheartedly allowing experience, as it is. Of inquiring into beliefs when they come up. Of working with projections and the shadow. Of noticing thoughts as thoughts, and what is here outside of them.
It seems that the more I am familiar with my daily life as material for practice, and engaging in those practices throughout daily life, the less contrast between retreat and daily life, which in turn gives a smoother transition between retreat and daily life, whether going into our out of retreat.
For me, those transitions have always been quite smooth, and it may be because daily life is my practice, and whatever cushion-time there is – is only a support for that practice. (And the same is the case for my wife, so I suspect her transition will be quite smooth as well.)
Some pointers I find helpful in daily-life practice:
What happens when I am caught up in resisting experience? What is the story/position/role/identity I am caught up in, that leads me to resist experience? What happens when I wholeheartedly and in a heartfelt way allow experience?
Can I find a belief behind whatever tension is coming up in daily life? Or behind a sense of having to defend a story/view/position/role? What happens when I believe that thought? Who am I without it? What are the truths in its reversals?
Can I find in myself what I see in others and situations? What happens when I only see it out there (or in here)? What happens when I genuinely can find, and feel, it both in my human self and in the wider world?
What happens when I see a story as just a thought? What happens when I see mental field creations – whether verbal or nonverbal (images etc.) – as mental field creations? What happens when I get caught up in the gestalts created from what happens in the different fields (visual, sound, and so on) and the mental field? Can I notice the verbal stories happening right now? Can I notice the non-verbal stories – for instance of images overlaid on sounds and sights – happening now?