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A Brief Post About My Recent Vipassana Experience

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Written on March 1st, 2015

I’m Buddha, I’m enlightened, I’ve reached nirvana, I’ve visited alternate planes. Kidding, kidding… of course, none of those things are true. What is true, however, is that I’m free again! It’s funny though: through trying to liberate myself from my imprisoned mind, I found myself not free due to the strict discipline at the center. Anyway, I’ve successfully completed the 10 Vipassana course! These last 10 days have been some of the most torturous days of my life, and completing the course has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever undertaken. I meditated, on average, for about 10 hours each day – approximately 100 hours over the last 10 days. Combining sleeping and meditating I had my eyes closed for approximately 16 hours per day. No speaking (we could speak to our teachers if we needed to, though), no writing, no reading, no music, no gestures, no eye contact, no touching, no intoxicants, complete segregation, adhering to a strict schedule. Most possessions must be surrendered, too (books, pens, cameras, phones, laptops, etc. – You must also abide by other, albeit more simple, rules: no lying, no stealing, no harming others, no sexual misconduct). I struggled a lot, and I basically wanted to quit each and every day. In fact, 13 others did quit, most around the 5th and 6th day. ‘1 hour down, 99 to go/ 15 hours down, 85 to go/ day 5 is over, only 5 left’ – I got through it by making use of my own experiences of how time passes and understanding that everything is impermanent (a teaching of the course, too). Each hour dragged on, but I knew time would pass and soon it would be over. And now I look back and wow – like the snap of the fingers. As is life. Sitting in the same position and being still for one hour at a time (10 hours per day), being aware of one’s breath through the nostrils, and observing the body’s sensations while remaining completely aware and completely equanimous, all while having eyes closed is much more difficult than it may sound. I suffered greatly – mentally, emotionally, physically. The pain was, at times, almost overwhelming (as it was for everyone), I fought to rid my mind of intrusive thoughts, and I had plenty of time to go through the drawers of all my memories stored – in my mind I basically replayed the last 15 years of my life. When you don’t speak, your mind speaks for you. I have wronged many people during my life – I’ve been extremely cruel, bitter, jealous, angry, intrusive, cowardly, demanding, controlling, deceitful. I’ve screamed, belittled, bullied, manipulated, and have been downright mean. I’ve caused others a lot of pain and suffering, took their happiness from them, and in return have ended up somewhat doing the same to myself. I’m sorry to all of you I’ve wronged. Those things are in the past and I must move on, understanding that everything is impermanent and that I am better than I was, that I acted wrongly due to how I was feeling inside. A wise women said to me, on more than one occasion, “actions are stronger than words”, and I would agree for the most part. And so I am changing for good, and I’m continuing to be the change that I want to see. Despite being skeptical of some of Vipassana’s teachings and techniques (though one must practice for a long time in order to reap just some of the benefits and to give the technique a fair chance), I was glad to have successfully completed the course. Honestly, I am happier than I was just 10 days ago. Many students swear by this meditation technique. When the noble silence was lifted late morning on the 10th day I was smiling in a way I had never smiled before, as were many others (I wonder if I would have smiled in a similar manner if I had been released from any oppressive place).

Now, I’m off to New Delhi – my brother, Logan, was supposed to book me a train ticket (I wasn’t able to do so due to my circumstances) but he instead booked me a flight! 38 hours on a train turned into 3 in an airplane! This just in: I just got asked to act in a Bollywood movie – they were looking for a Westerner to do a few lines! How cool would that have been? Can’t miss my flight, though! This happened last time I was in India, except I had a train to catch. Here is the first song I listened after the course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1c_PK2RL-I . Also, here is a film that was made about Vipassasa (It’s about the technique being used in Indian prisons – very interesting): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkxSyv5R1sg . I don’t know if I’ll continue with this particular type of meditation, as it takes a lot of time and practice (2 hours each day), but at least I’ll have the tools to do so. What is the price for complete happiness and to be the master of our own minds? Well, back to the Indian sun and the traveling life I go. I had more to say than I thought. Two more things – I quit smoking on this day 4 years ago, and today marks the start of my sixth month in Asia. Make the best of it.

May all beings be happy 🙂

Stay tuned for a full review of my time at the Vipassana center.

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