Alistair’s analogy of the four fields being like the weather is so very apt. As I write I think I’m out of the worst of the comedown from the weekend, and have now dealt with my very real fear of a repeat of the weekend retreats I’d been on back in 2000 and earlier. With emotional balance returned, I can see that my first two days after the end of the retreat had extremely violent ‘weather’ – the body, perceptions, feelings and thoughts interacted in a way which made me unhappy, for the first outright time in months. In hindsight what was going on is also getting clear – I was exhausted from a wonderful yet demanding weekend, hadn’t been physically training in five days and felt pudgy, the light was gloomy for the first time in weeks, and the sensory perceptions I was picking up also evoked the worst day of my life. This of course triggered that awful memory, but not just a memory – an entire mindset; I knew it wasn’t the way things are now, but it felt quite overwhelming nonetheless. And my thoughts insisted this wouldn’t change.
Except the four fields are like the weather – they don’t stay still. All of this could only ever be transitory, and although it wasn’t easy, by being mindful of my body and perceptions, my emotional mind which had been going a bit nuts had no space to keep ranting; the mind can’t do two things at once like that. And when I tried out being mindful even of the feeling of walking, of the shifting smells, the intensity of sounds – really living, really existing – the worst feelings – the mindset – just went away; a new weather pattern had formed.