At one point of our exciting journey we decided to calm down our mind, take a deep breath, leave our little possessions behind (wallets, watches, electronic devices, books, pens and papers) and live a monk life for 10 days in total: noble silence.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills. Sounds good, right?
As follow on their website “Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.”
( https://www.dhamma.org/en/index )
Numerous of our friends we met on the way strongly recommended us to go visit one center and check for ourselves.
As in our style we were late for the application online so the day before the course started we found ourselve knocking on the Vipassana center’s gate! Maybe someone who signed in will never come we thought. We offered our volunteer work painting the fence, putting the mosquito nets and preparing the area for the upcoming guests, as the result we were welcomed among the new students!
The first day at 5 pm the silence started. Men and women were never crossing each other’s path, not even while dining. No eye contact, gestures, body language. Morning waking up bell at 4 am, 10 hours sitting crossed-legs, meditating, mastering determination over the physical pain, 10 days in row. At some point you want to escape, it is so hard, it is a serious work. You are asked to keep an attention on your breathing, later on your body sensation, but your mind does not accept the present and it always wanders away, to the past and to the future. I have never had this much time in my life without any external stimulus to think about the way I lead my path, about my family, close friends, childhood. Many vivid memories, in almost scary details come upon the surface. Dreams are also very powerful. It is like a deep surgical operation of the brain, they say: once open you take out all your faulty behavior patterns (like craving and aversion) and impurities to slowly close the scar the last day. You can not stop in between.
The whole experience was very profound and satisfactory. I found it much harder than any volleyball training I have ever had during my semi-professionals years. During the workout there was always someone who could give you a hand, smack your bum and motive you while in Vipassana you are by yourself with your unobedient mind.
The last day the noble silence breaks, you feel soo happy and close to the students to whom you have never spoken. You find yourself much more cheerful, freed from the bondage, patient and alert by even a tiny fly sitting on your forehead.
Check out www.dhamma.org for this donation based centers located around the world. There is also a beautiful movie about Indian prisoners practicing Vipassana (Available online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkxSyv5R1sg ).
When the course was finished we continued our road to Mausuri, nearby hill station were together with Antonio we could share our experiences and eat first mango, enjoy the changed landscape and the first mountains during this trip…
Dear Anna & Antonio,
BEAUTIFUL post. I wish I could describe vipassana as beautifully as you just have 🙂 Also so great how you knocked on the door and were admitted in exchange for some help. Anna, I remember you asking me about vipassana long ago. Now, you have encouraged me to take a 2nd course (last time I did was 2009), and I just registered already.
All the best and thank you,
Thomas (the “go greater good” one)
Hey Thomas, I am very happy to read your words. You were actually the first person who planted this seed of Vipassana in my head. Thank you and good luck for your next course!