From time to time it is useful for all of us to let go of memories of the past, bad feelings of the present, worries and fears about a future. Otherwise we carry a burden, a backpack with us, that makes us slow and heavy on our journey through life. It causes not only loads of emotional pain and suffering but this burden can also show in physical pain, that can become chronical.
This pain around emotions, thoughts, toxic relationships, environment etc. is our prison.
I was listening to the story of a buddhist monk visiting prisoners in jail the other day. As they were having a nice chat together the prisoners had a lot of questions to the monk about life in the monastery.
So the monk told them all about his daily routine:
They were getting up at 4 AM in the morning, every morning, to meditate.
And the prisoners were astonished....They wouldn't have to get up THAT early and actually even if they would have, they would have the time to watch the end of a late night movie on TV.
"Oh", the monk said " we don't have TV in the monastery", the prisoners were shocked, as they had TV in every cell.
"And then what are you doing then?" the prisoners asked.
"Well, after meditation we would have breakfast, most likely a cup of simple cereals, maybe some noodles."
The prisoners became more and more silent, "and then", they asked, "what are you doing then in the morning?"
"We work hard. We have lots of chores to do in the monastery, building, cleaning, constructing, teaching etc."
Again the prisoners were surprised.
"and then we have a simple lunch" the monk continued, "and after that we meditate."
"WHAT? Can't you then just relax, listen to some music or play some football or something?"
"No, we are not allowed to play football" the monk replied "we meditate all afternoon."
"Are you not getting bored to meditate till dinner?"
"Dinner?" the monk looked at the prisoners "we don't have dinner in the monastery."
"Oh! In prison we get something for dinner every night and we even have snacks throughout the day, if we want to" the prisoners replied "So. tell us, what are you doing all evening then? You are probably not playing cards or something else, do you?"
"No, we meditate."
"Oh god, that must be terrible.....and at what time to you go to bed,then?"
"BED? We don't sleep in beds", said the monk "we sleep on the floor."
The prisoners began to really feel sorry for that man, they liked and the harsh lifestyle he lived in comparison to them. So they suggested him to join them instead....
So why is it, that people try to get out of jail? And why would anyone like to live in a monastery?
What's the difference between a monastery and a prison, as for prison seems to be much more comfortable. Life in a monastery is harder.
The only difference between a monastery and a prison is:
People want to be there.
Any place you don't want to be in is your prison.
Escaping your prisons, relationships, jobs, doesn't mean you have to quit, break up and leave. But you can change the attitude around them and make them a place you want to be in.
Think of your life, considering the question: "Do I want to be here?"
Every "Yes!" is your inner freedom.