Last weekend's Zen retreat had some quite interesting after-effects. My general mental state this week has been rather different than usual. That has mostly—although not quite completely—faded by now, which is a shame, because I liked it.
This week at work should have been somewhat upsetting and definitely stressful. There have been some changes that are not altogether pleasant, some tasks that are not particularly exciting or interesting, and a lot of interruptions coming from all directions. Normally, I would be a wreck by now; stressed out of my skull, irritated, surly, and generally not much fun at all.
We're participating in a research project that requires us to assess our stress levels for each day, and my check mark was at "Much lower than usual" all week, despite all the stuff going on. Now, I'm feeling peaceful if looking forward to a good night's sleep and a quiet weekend.
For the first three days after the retreat, my dominant emotional affects were gratitude, wonder, equanimity, and mental flexibility.
I was repeatedly struck by things I usually take for granted. My pay slip, for example. I was looking at it, and thinking about the incredible, miraculous confluence of actions and interactions that result in the universe conspiring to deposit money in my bank account every month, what a tiny part I play in that huge web, and how my part is also a part of the web that results in other people getting their pay slips every month.
I felt deeply engaged in my daily actions, at work and at home. It felt easy to stay on whatever it was that I had to be doing, and to find the right thing to do or say—or, especially unusually, not say—in those rapidly changing and shifting circumstances. Meetings that would otherwise bore or stress me, didn't. Tedious tasks felt significant and not tedious at all, and I did them easily and well. Interruptions and multitasking didn't bother me; I simply switched to doing whatever had to be done, and did it. If someone was in a bad mood, I did not pick up and reflect that affect in my usual way, but lived with it and, I think, may even have helped a bit.
It felt really good. This was not detachment, in any sense of the word; I was not serenely floating above worldly concerns; I was strongly and immediately and directly engaged with my usual, everyday things, which made them feel anything but usual and everyday. They just didn't get to me. If this is upekkha, I like it.