Monday, November 16, 2009

Vipassana in 10 days!

Ever thought of spending 10 days without phone, TV, internet, books, family, friends and in complete solitary confinement with nothing else to do but only sitting and meditating for hours n hours?? Scary huh?! Well thats what you've to prepare yourself for if you're planning to do 10 days Vipassana course. And now after saying this, I can proudly announce that 'I DID manage to spend such 10 days of confinement!!'. Last 2 weeks I attended Vipassana course at Pune Vipassana Center and that has been an experience of a lifetime for me. You've to live it to actually believe it! I've been wanting to do it for the past 1 year but always missed it due to numerous reasons; but this time I was more than determined to do it at any cost. Moreover I was in desperate need of a break. A break from the monotony of work, home life. A need of time to be just myself. Realising this, I wasted no time in enrolling for their course.
Till the time of reaching there I was apprehensive about the whole idea of spending 10 days without speaking to anyone and just meditating for the whole day. But the beginning of this journey has been pretty comforting to my jittery nerves. The moment I reached there, what touched me was the serenity of the place. I could actually hear the chirping of the birds, flocks of parrots nestling in the trees which is so hard to even notice in our routine life. The Vipassana Center might be located in the middle of the Pune city but it nestles a calm world in itself. The centre has vast premises and is surrounded by lush green garden. No wonder then that people come here to relieve their stress and rejuvenate themselves.
The entire course is focused on teaching of Buddha on how to live life with detachment from the material world by avoiding any craving towards good things and aversion towards bad things in life. And all this is taught with a simple technique of concentrating on your natural breathing and feeling the sensations on your body. First two days were pretty difficult for me to concentrate on my breath. My mind was so preoccupied with other thoughts and I never thought just concentrating on my breath would be such an uphill task. Try doing this even for 5 minutes and you'll realise what I mean. And I think this explains my general habit of day dreaming. Vipassana forces your mind to realise the 'Moment of the truth'. That is, no past and no future should your mind associate itself with. It should always live in the present with the realisation that nothing is permanent. Everything is perishable whether your joys or sorrows. Everything has an end. When this teaching goes in our mind, you actually get a different feel towards all the things in your life. The main technique of Vipassana was taught on the 4th day. You start by observing the sensations like throbbing, itiching, tickling on each of your body part. But you're not supposed to react with any emotion whether happiness or anger. When you succeed in doing this, you calm your mind from sudden anger or over excitement. You're learning the principle of dettaching yourself from material world. You're avoiding craving and aversion towards anything in life.
Meditating this way for 10 days definitely had its positive effects on me. My Mind felt calm and composed after a very long time. The tranquility and peace of the surrounding also played a big part. The uneasiness and restlessness vanished within me. Staying silent for 10 days made me realise lot of things.
The Vipassana course was started in India by Shri. S.N.Goenka at the first center in Igatpuri. Ever since, the course is being taught the same way across all the centers all over the world. The rules and regulations are being followed strictly by all the students. The entire course is free of cost and open for anyone who wishes to do it. What was the most remarkable was the way this course was being conducted for all 10 days. There is a comfortable arrangement for stay as well as food. You have to wash your own plate, bowl and glass after every meal. The laundry service is available for mere Rs.100/- which takes care of washing and ironing of your clothes for all days. The senior students who are now serving as volunteers takes care of any needy things you may wish to have. The Assistant Teachers guide you through any doubts of meditation. The 'Noble Silence' if strictly observed by everyone. That means even talking by any sign language is prohibited. You've to clean your own room everyday and at the time of leaving the center. This are small things but they instill lot of self discipline which only helps us reorganize our life in a way. The only hurdle some of you may face is, no dinner is served at night; since according to them, meditation is possible only when 1/4th part of your stomach is empty! My body took time to adjust to this routine. On first night hunger pangs, kept me awake till late in the night. Another hurdle was sleeping at 9:30 at night. Its been ages I've slept so early at night. It was indeed a big challenge for me to sleep after 9:30 and wake up at 4 in wee hours of morning.
The only thing insisted by them is to learn Vipassana in its pure form. If you're following any other forms of meditation, prayers, yoga, fastings, then abandon them till the time you're practicing Vipassana. They want you to give a fair chance for Vipassana to get the maximum benefits. Hence the reason for keeping silence to avoid any external thoughts or preconceived notions getting in mind.
After going through this rigorous routine for 9 days, you break your silence on the last day morning. On this day, they allow you to mingle with other people and get to know them. You get to listen to their side of the story of whole exprience and perhaps how much effective the course has been for them. The last day just zooms off even before you realise it.
The course exceeded my expectations in all way. Only hitch I found myself in was, 10 days seemed pretty long time to stay away from family and friends. Also I found myself dragging somehow n losing little focus on meditation on last couple of days. I crossed my patience and tolerance level both. All in all, on last day I forgot these small hassles and definitely felt like continuing Vipassana in my daily life to experience more positive effects on my life. This course in itself was selft testimonial for my tremendous patience of staying away from daily addictions of phone, TV, work. My advice to all those who want to do it but still thinking, Don't think too much about it. The more you'll think the more you'll generate self doubts of doing the course. Just go for it. After all you've nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

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