Meditation - panacea to our tired souls

With the reopening of the VPL lanes, many are choosing the options of overseas trips. As much as I was tempted to follow the crowds, I did not. My soul was craving for something more, something which will provide me with inner fulfilment, beyond the superficial momentary pleasures that the external world provides. I decided to sign up for the full day retreat at Dharma Drum Singapore (DDS).

A day before the retreat, I was a little apprehensive. Would I be able to go through a day without the phone and without the freedom to talk as and when I like? My worries were unfounded as I walked into the meditation hall on the 3rd of May 2022. I was greeted by signs on DDS centre’s walls reminding participants to remain in noble silence. After keeping my belongings in the locker, I made my way into the meditation hall.

Just like the previous retreats, participants were led into the meditation practice with the Eight Form Moving Meditation ( 八式动禅 ) where we had to go through slow body movements to ease our tired muscles for the meditation. I could feel my body tension melting away with the therapeutic movements. After completing the moving meditation, thrice gentle knocks of the wooden fish ( 木鱼 ) signified the beginning of a 30 minutes sitting meditation. For those who are new to the idea of meditation, it encourages one to take a journey into self-discovery. The process of meditation reveals to us who we really are. It allows us to tune into our purpose, as well as strengthens the internal awareness within us.

The sound of the chime ( 引磬 ) at the end of the 30 minutes gently nudged the meditators out of their practice. Time passed by very fast during the retreat, soon it was time for lunch. We were led to the dining hall where we carried out our eating meditation ( 吃饭禅 ). The objective of the eating meditation was to eat mindfully, chewing our food 30 times before swallowing. It was difficult at the beginning because I was used to gulping my food quickly during lunch. Having to chew 30 times in a slow manner was quite a torture at first. However, with each intended slow chew, I was able to savour the original taste of the food. The spinach tasted sweet, the pumpkin was soft and each grain of rice was fragrant. No talking was allowed in the dining hall and every movement was intentional. From the lifting of the chopsticks off the table to holding the bowls in our palms, every action must be in silence.

After lunch, we could choose between slow or brisk walking around the monastery ground to help with food digestion. This was followed by resting meditation (大休息)for 20 minutes, before sitting meditation resumed.

The retreat ended with group discussions and presentations for the day. Venerable  ( 法师 ) led us with the dedication & prostration ( 回向礼佛 ). We prostrated to the Buddha and gave our gratitude for the day. It was a day well-spent. I left the Dharma Drum Singapore Centre feeling light-hearted and clarity in my mind. Indeed, solitary and meditations are the panacea to our tired souls.

Written by / Chan Huan Fei
Event date / 2 & 3 May 2022

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