GOD IS A DJ
Imagine this.. ten days of zero communication with the real world. No reading, no writing, no physical contact, no speaking, no phones, no INTERWEBS!?!
VIPASSANA MEDITATION is ten days of complete detox for the mind and body, designed to purify the mind of cravings and aversions, the source of all our misery according to Buddha, by resetting the conditioning at the deepest level, the unconscious.
I knew it would be a challenge but having now completed the course I rate it up there as one of, if not the hardest project I’ve taken on to date. At times it felt as though I was stuck in a MENTAL HOSPITAL (voluntarily!) as fellow meditators would wander around the strict boundaries of the facilities in a near zombie state. My body had to adjust to rising at 4am and putting in a two hour meditation session before breakfast.. after having an apple for dinner the night before. Yes, food was scarce with lunch at 11am being the only decent sized offering, and VEGETARIAN at that. There was nowhere to escape too, nothing to entertain me, nothing to distract me. It was just me and my mind. I was in a hell of my own making.
And then there was the “teacher” aka GOD. I still remember the first time GOD entered the meditation hall. GODslowly shuffled his way to a little podium that became his seat of power for the duration of the course, and he perched himself up there crossed legged. After suveying the assembled meditators, sitting on our overly large and soft cushions, with surprisingly beady eyes, he turned to his boombox and pressed PLAY. And hence flowed forth the deep and raspy voice of one S.N. Goencka, the guru from Burma who would remotely instruct us on how to meditate. Are you frickin kidding me!? I could do that, who needs this guy. His role it turns out is to answer questions but his knowledge of the subject matter was questionable at best and more often than not the response would be “go back to respiration”.
What does that mean? Well, for three consecutive days, TEN hours a day, we spent our time sitting in a rigidly upright lotus pose performing a single task: concentrating on observing the natural flow of respiration. I almost had a brain explosion right there and then. Certainly I was ready to bail before lunch on the first day. But I hate losing at anything so I resolved to approach it the same way I take on any project and broke it down into manageable chunks. Completing each day was a mini milestone in its own right.
Thankfully on the fourth day the technique progressed sufficiently to keep me borderline sane. In a nutshell the objective was to sense sensations on the body and objectively observe them, whether they were pleasant or unpleasant, whilst understanding they are impermanent. Its some task trying to feel a subtle tingle or the cool air of the atmosphere brushing over your forehead while ignoring the agony in your upper back as you try to maintain an upright position. But it became a fascinating game for me as I tried to bend my mind to my own will and ignore the pain rather than it overpowering me. At times I succeeded but only briefly, however those brief moments were pretty cool.
As a whole, the experience was incredibly taxing, both mentally and physically. And I’m reasonably sure now that meditation is not for me. But I don’t look at it as a waste of time. My insides haven’t felt this good all year, maybe even longer so perhaps I’ll have to look into vegetarianism or even “flexitarianism” seriously. I started to enjoy rising early, its amazing how much you can achieve before the rest of the world wakes. I can also confidently say that had I attempted this course at the beginning of this trip or perhaps on a break from work that I wouldn’t have seen it through. The difference now is I am travel weary and every city is starting to look the same, and experiences no longer unique. I know I’ve reached my limit and this last experience effectively marks the end of the adventure.
I’m looking forward to resuming normal life.. whatever that is. click. PLAY.