A common experience of leaving a meditation retreat can be the jarring reintegration into civilized society. The deep state of relaxation that happens when I would take 35 minutes to savor and contemplate a piece of fruit would make it hard to walk through a crowded supermarket or to drive a car on the highway. There are advantages and disadvantages to great sensitivity. These practices gave me a set of sort-of superpowers(known by yogis as siddhis) where I could see deeply into a person predicting how they felt and what they were thinking about- it also seemingly allowed me to heal my body quickly and to prevent myself from getting sick. I became an oracle for those around me who wanted to know more about themselves. This was documented by one of my peers, Brian Leaf, who wrote a book about his experiences during this time:
While these new skills were very affirming of the power of these practices it proved to be more of a distraction than their best use.
After a few years at the ashram, I began to take short excursions into the outside world. I’d go see a local band or i’d take a walk to the supermarket. These experiences quickly taught me that although I’d had some profound insights about myself and about the nature of reality, I was no more comfortable in the real world than I was before I’d left it. How was I to bridge this gap? What good was my “spiritual” revelation if I was completely dysfunctional in the “real world.” After my school years being so filled with discomfort and confusion I wasn’t ready to return to that world yet. I wanted to give myself some more time in “the garden.” Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew that this was an awareness and a challenge that I couldn’t turn away from.