Updated: Jun 4, 2019
by Eric Hansen
My meditative journey started a few years ago when a friend mentioned that he had registered for a course called MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction). I had only heard little of mindfulness at that time and knew almost nothing about meditation, but decided to attend the course taught by Peta McAuley. In many ways this changed my perspective and led to a whole new way of looking at things in life. As the course progressed I became more and more interested in the underlying foundations of mindfulness meditation. While MBSR itself is secular in its approach, I learned that its core concepts are based on Buddhist psychology and I became eager to learn more about this. I started reading articles and books about Buddhism and even attended public lectures at the Centre of Buddhist studies at HKU.
However, I realised that spending my time only reading and contemplating about the Buddhist teachings (and in a way more theorising the subject in my mind) was not really advancing myself on my meditative journey. The only way to do so, I concluded, was to apply that thinking in practice and engage in mindfulness meditation, which would require a lot of dedication and time commitment. I must admit that I struggled with finding that regular routine of daily meditations. Living in an energetic city like Hong Kong with all its distractions and working in the financial industry hardly provide the ideal backdrop to induce meditative calmness on a day-to-day basis. I experienced some sense of deeper meditative calmness for the first time when I attended a week long Metta meditation retreat at Fa Hong on Lantau that was taught by Visu Teoh, a former ordained monk in Myanmar. The surroundings at Fa Hong provided the detachment from day-to-day life and the regular daily meditation practices created a sense of calmness, content and peace, which I truly enjoyed.
With that memory still on my mind, I registered for the recent Vipassana retreat taught by Jessica Mui, which also took place at Fa Hong. The former monastery provides the idyllic setting with a view of the Lantau hills and forests with Tung Chung and Chek Lap Kok in distant views. I had met Jessica previously at one-day retreats near Tung Chung and I hoped that this four days retreat would help me further improve my own meditation practices (and understanding!). The retreat followed a rigid daily schedule full of meditative practices, beginning with sitting meditations at 6am, followed by mindful eating and working sessions, and alternating sitting and walking meditations throughout each day.