Last month, I went for a 10 day Vipassana course. Vipassana is a mediation technique which was re-discovered by Gautam Buddha some 25 centuries ago. It is a technique in which one learns to observe their mind, thoughts, emotions, and the effect they have on their body, without reacting with either craving or aversion. Vipassana means insight. It means seeing things as they really are and not as one would like them to be. It’s an experience of self-discovery, self-awareness, and experiential wisdom that can truly be understood only by going the through the process.
I was keen to explore this and as soon as the program dates matched with my schedule, I registered for the program.
The orientation session on Day 0 told us in simple and clear terms that it was not an easy course and it had some very strict rules and regulations. As students, we had to…
- Abstain from killing. Of course, I had no plans to kill anybody, but this rule made me think twice whether to kill the mosquito on the wall or not!
- Abstain from stealing or telling lies. This one was easy as I am not into any of these vices.
- Abstain from using any type of intoxicants. Thankfully, tea / coffee did not qualify as stimulants.
- Follow noble silence ie any form of communication whether by physical gestures, written notes, sign language and words was prohibited. We were not allowed to speak with fellow students. We could speak to the teacher whenever necessary though.
- Abstain from practicing any other meditation technique or spiritual or healing practices or religious rituals or yoga.
- Abstain from reading, writing or using phones or any other gadgets.
- Handover all personal items viz wallet, phones, Kindle or any other valuables.
Our day would start at 4 am and end at 9 pm. Each day was packed with learning the mediation technique by experiential method. We spent 12 hours every day learning the various steps of the technique. There were breaks in between to relax.
The food was simple and vegetarian. Breakfast was served at 6.30 am. Lunch was at 11 am and supper consisting of tea and a snack was served at 5 pm. I was worried that I would feel hungry at night. But surprises of surprise, I found myself adapting to this new routine without any hassle.
We had to clean our rooms and bathroom on our own. We had less number of women in our course so, all of us had individual rooms to ourselves. And I truly glad for that!
Before the course, I thought that 10 days of complete silence, with no talking or hugs or even eye contact, and no phone or laptop or internet and no books would certainly make me stark raving mad. But, I was so wrong. I simply liked the solitude and time that I got for myself to learn, think and introspect too.
I travel a lot, but I am always in touch with KG via phone or messages. It was for the first time, that I was not communicating with KG at all. I was ok for the first 4 days. But I freaked out on Day 5 and no amount of thinking positive thoughts or meditation would calm my mind. When I could not handle the turbulence on my own, I asked the teacher to call up KG and check with him if all was ok at home. She was not keen on doing that but seeing my state, she relented and called KG. After her chat with KG she told me that I was worrying unnecessarily.
It was only on the 10th day when we were given our phones back and were allowed to talk, I came to know that my Mom was not well on Day 4 though she was ok by Day 5. My premonition was a few hours late!!
Was this technique of mastering the mind easy? Was this 10 day journey of learning the basic discipline of self-reflection and self-control a cake walk? What did I learn from these 10 days of solitude? All about this and much more in the subsequent chapters of the Vipassana Diary. Stay tuned…
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