I recently returned from a four month retreat that was lead by the Venerables Pa-Auk Sayadaw and U Jagara in Massachusettes. It was a experiential approach to the Buddha’s teachings that emphasized deep concentration (especially jhana) practice; the careful discernment and analysis of mental factors, cognitive processes, material elements, and causal relationships; and culminated in systematic insight (vipassana) practice. I can’t condense the experience into a simple blog post, but I have written about the meditation methods in my new book, Wisdom Wide and Deep.

As I integrate the retreat learnings into the fabric of my daily life I will try to share more from my retreat in future blog posts. But for now I’ll simply express the gratitude that I feel for having been able to spend four months in retreat. I was able to take the time to deepen my practice because family members, students, and volunteers each contributed their time and energy to ensure that everything ran smoothly at home and at our meditation group in my absence. The administrative team at the Insight Meditation Society, where the retreat was held, ably organized a smooth running retreat. And the teachers tirelessly offered guidance and instructions to realize the profound teachings of the Buddha.

None of us can function alone in this world; our achievements depend upon an intricate network of friends, family, and strangers. As the year winds to an end perhaps you would take a moment to reflect on the network of connections that have supported your achievements this year. Pause to appreciate the people, both known and unknown, who have made it possible for you to do or experience something that you value.

With much gratitude to all!