I just finished my Level II course this weekend, over a year after taking my Level I course. The weekends are tough, but really rewarding. Yet I find I struggle to make myself go. Partially it is the cost; I feel guilty spending $150 on something that benefits only me, and is really a luxury in our budget. And the time is hard to come by - it requires a Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Those are valid reasons, but not really the whole of it, I think.
When I really sit with it, and why I struggle to do this, I come up with this. It is physically and mentally uncomfortable. Physically, it is harder than you probably think to sit on a cushion cross-legged for long stretches of time, throughout much of a weekend. My knees ache, my ankles ache, my back screams. I begin to eye the cushion like it is a torture device. Eventually, I give in and move to a metal folding chair. But my back still hurts, my ass gets sore, and my knees ached in an entirely new way. By Monday morning, I walk like I am 90.
Worse though, is the mental discomfort. I know that I am going to face things that are difficult. I am going to experience feelings I would rather not feel. I am going to be vulnerable, and even more, I am going to be vulnerable in a group of strangers. I will have to be honest, and open, and care deeply about people I may never see again. It is so very hard that I shy away from it.
And yet. Ultimately I find a point in time where time, money, and willpower all coincide to make a weekend possible. So I go, and afterward I always wonder why I resisted so hard. In the afterglow of an intense weekend of meditation, I vow to attend another session as soon as I can. I will go to the center every week. I will strengthen my practice at home. I will immerse myself in dharma. I will be kind and gentle and good to all.
Each time, I mean it.