One of the most difficult aspects of practicing meditation is the inevitable confrontation it forces us to make with the concept of emptiness. If we think, for example, about a weekend retreat as 2 days away from our usual pastimes it may seem very worrying. However this concern is based on the way that we look at our lives. For example, if we take a building in the city we’ve seen hundreds of times, it might look very different to us if we walk close it or look at it at a different time of day.
Similarly, if we look at our lives as series of moments rather than as a block of time as we might be used to doing, we might realize that we are not trapping the mind at all. On the contrary, we are freeing it from the constant push and pull of craving which dominates our lives and dictates our actions, sometimes to our detriment and in opposition to the satisfaction we ultimately want.
When we attend a meditation retreat we are temporarily giving up our pursuit of sensual pleasure so that we can experience something different that provides us an enduring satisfaction — an improved ability to persist in the observation of the present moment. As this skill matures over time, what appeared empty at first becomes full of real happiness.