I was in Thailand a few weeks ago and signed up to do a 5 day Vipassana retreat. The place was situated on the top of a mountain overlooking the village. The perfect location.
I booked it.
In the meantime, I continued working. Freelance writing, mostly. I didn’t think much about the retreat until the day before I was supposed to go.
I asked myself, ‘wait a second, why am I doing this?’ I cancelled the night before. Sorry Goenka.
The decision came very easily, and from a place of total clarity. In fact, nothing ever felt more natural.
The reason was simple. I had been focused on writing for days and felt that I was “in the zone.” The purpose, (if we can speak of purpose) of doing the retreat was to help me focus. To help me gain clarity. To be more productive. So that I could take quick action…and write.
But wait a second. I already had that. I meditate every morning and jump straight into writing. I had no demons holding me back. No writers block. No shortage of topics to write about. I was doing what I wanted to be doing in a state of uninterrupted flow.
What’s the point of putting that on pause to take a retreat to refocus when I didn’t feel I needed to refocus? There wasn’t.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘minimum effective dose.’
How much exercise do we really need? How much meditation do we need? How many books should we read? When is enough, enough?
Of course, it’s all highly subjective and situational.
My 10 day Vipassana retreat (months ago) has changed my life — as have other great habits and routines — but in reflecting on all of them it’s definitely easy to default into over-doing them.
Maybe once a year for a “refresh” or a “reset.”
The point is using these techniques are extremely valuable when we use them to inch towards our big goals in life. Of course there’s a threshold where doing a bit more isn’t that effective.
So, when you use meditation as an excuse, just running through the motions, just doing it because you think you should even though you have everything you need, then you’re meditating too much. Then you know it’s enough.