From January 27th until February 7th 2016 I sat my first ever 10 day Vipassana Meditation course (a). As a way of recognising the significance of this event in my life I wanted to capture some key thoughts about my experience. So here are my 10 thoughts on 10 days of silence, some of my experiences and the wisdom I gained.
1. Meditation Bootcamp:
A 10 day Vipassana course is a serious undertaking, make no mistake. Besides the 10 days of silence and the 4.00am wake up chimes there is also the 10-11 hours per day of meditating. If you think meditation is an easy thing let me assure you that when you push your body to these limits it’s going to hurt & hurt a lot. I’ve never been great at meditating for long periods of time so my meditation “muscles” were not very well tuned and the first few days felt like I had been doing serious gym work, not sitting still. However, with lots of stretching a good diet my back survived and got stronger and stronger as the days progressed.
If Vipassana is potentially on your radar I’d recommend tuning up a little first. But most importantly do not go into this process half heartedly. Approach it eagerly. Relish the opportunity to give yourself this gift.
2. Blah, blah, blah………..
My monkey mind meanders. My monkey mind muses. My monkey mind mutters & murmurs. My monkey mind is a manic maelstrom of memories, mazes, mysteries, music, movies and magic. A myriad of multimedia make believe manipulating my mojo. My monkey mind……………blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.
Having spent the 4 weeks prior to Vipassana living in community with up to 30 vibrant souls at the Marulan Earthship (b) workshop it was a near impossible task to completely quite my mind for the first few days. I suspect anyone coming from a busy environment would have similar difficulties. Fortunately time and space and the total silence were the perfect antidote to monkey chatter. Each day got better and easier as the volume muted and the brightness dimmed.
3. I Failed, a lot!
I failed to fully concentrate during my meditations. I failed to fully understand the process to begin with. I failed to properly get in touch with the sensations in my body. I failed to sit completely still during the strong determination sittings. I failed to hold my equanimity. I failed to stay completely awake on many occasions. Micro sleeps and even a few macro sleeps snuck into my daily practice (especially during the 4.30am meditations). So yes, I failed a lot during this course. But you know what? My failure does not matter. My failure does not define me. My failure is not an issue because this failure, any failure is an impermanent thing. Anicca…….anicca……..anicca.
4. I Succeeded, a lot!
Despite the above point, in the more than 100 hours of meditation time I undertook during the course there were many periods, seconds, moments, minutes and more where I did properly observe the reality of the sensations in my body. Many times I held strong concentration as I scanned my body back and forth. For large periods of the strong determination sittings I held equipoise despite any of the painful or pleasant sensations I was feeling. But again none of that matters. My success does not define me. My success is not an issue because it is an impermanent thing. Anicca……anicca……anicca.
5. The importance of impermanence. (Pali word of Impermanence = Anicca – pronounced a-nitch-a)
Impermanence is such a universal law that I am positive that every human on the planet has some understanding of it. After all we witness it stunningly every day. The sun rises, the sun sets, the tides roll in, the tides roll out. Things rise up and then fall down. Things are born and then they die. The whole electromagnetic universe is in a constant state of flux between polarities. After all we are living in a duality (c). From the most microscopic sub atomic particle level every teeny, tiny Tachyon is pulsating with the energy of polarization. Everything changes, absolutely everything changes every single microsecond of every single day.
6. Everything Old is New Again.
In one of those meditation sessions where I failed to concentrate fully on the task at hand a thought occurred to me that I felt deserved inclusion in this post. As I’ve mentioned many times in my blog we are electrical beings (d), existing in an electric universe that is in a constant state of flux. At the most basic sub atomic particle level the current flow of the electric universe passes through us. At this level there is a constant exchange of matter as we draw in energetic charge from the universe and then pass on energetic charge back into the universe. This means that the most basic building blocks which make up this avatar we call our body are constantly being replaced as the drawing in (enfolding) and sending out (unfolding) process of energetic electronic life takes place. It is a paradigm of humanity that we always consider ourselves to be aging, getting older. This year we are one more year older than last year. However, my meditation revelation is that we have got this all wrong! Our bodies at the most basic quantum physics level are constantly being replaced with new energy, new tachyons, new building blocks. You know what this means don’t you? It means that every moment, every second that goes by you are becoming the most newest version of yourself. Right now as you read this point trillions upon trillions of tiny tachyons have emanated from your body and been sent out to the universe whilst at the same moment trillions upon trillions of new tachyons have been drawn into your body to replace them. Right now you are a shiny new being! Doesn’t it feel good to realise that every moment you are actually getting newer and newer! Something worth celebrating I reckon. Welcome to the new you! You are deliciously perfect!
7. 3 Cups of Poison.
The foundation of the Vipassana meditation technique is the fundamental Buddhist understanding of the 3 poisons we drink which are the root of all suffering.
(I) Ignorance – For many years I led my life drinking from this cup. I suffered but was very much asleep to my suffering. My life didn’t really start to change for the better until I stopped drinking from this cup and to venture down the path of self enquiry. I asked myself some fundamental questions. Why do I suffer? Where is the pain coming from? The Vipassana course helped to reinforce what the answers to these questions are. The suffering comes from drinking the other two cups of poison.
(II) Aversion – part of my past suffering was the pain of running away from something, even if that running away was merely the feeling of discomfort, dislike or fear. Aversion to criticism and rejection were huge for me, as was aversion to (perceived) failure. I have suffered much from these aversions in my life. With the clarity of Vipassana’s teachings I now have an additional tool with which to calm my mind and ease my pain. Understanding Anicca and practicing Equanimity are wonderful antidotes to this poison.
(III) Craving/Clinging – this also has been a significant poison for me all of my life. So much of my suffering has been caused by the sense of being unlovable. For so long I craved for a feeling of validation, for a feeling of being loved and being lovable, I yearned for it constantly (e). It wasn’t until I learned that the love comes from within that I was able to control this poison in my life. I am far from mastering it, but with the help and the wisdom of Vipassana I feel much better equipped to deal with those moments of craving and to recognise the impermanence of their hold on me.
8. Equanimity is Purity.
Vipassana Meditation at it’s core is about dealing with your aversions and cravings in a practical, equanimous way. By learning to train your mind to overcome your automated tendancy to react to any sensation you feel in your body you unlock the key to inner peace and harmony. By learning to maintain equanimity or calm detachment from the bodily sensations you develop an understanding of Anicca. All sensations are impermanent things, insubstaintial things. They come and they go, they rise and they fall. Be the sensations unpleasant such as an aching back from too much meditating or a pleasant tingling sensation from a deep relaxing meditation, neither of these things last. If you can train yourself to overcome your automated conditioning to react you exhibit much more mastery over yourself. You discover that you are actually in charge of running this body and that you can remain poised no matter what life’s ups and downs are.
9. I survived……….
Despite the silence, despite the aches and pains, despite the 4.00am wake up calls I survived. Despite the hours upon hours of meditation and even despite the separation from technology, I survived. I proved to myself that I could do it. To my surprise in hindsight it wasn’t even that difficult. Understanding the law of impermanence is a wonderful thing, because no matter what you might feel at any moment, you know that things will change.
Even more than just survive, I thrived. I gained incredible wisdom, both about myself and about my journey through life as a whole. I learned that those little things that sometimes take up so much of my attention do not define me. I learned that those big things that sometimes seem so daunting are nothing but a series of ever changing little things. I learned that in all circumstances I can face life’s challenges with equanimity. I also thrived because I got to spend so much beautiful peaceful time in a loving and supportive environment both physically at the Vipassana meditation centre and mentally, dwelling deep within myself with my beautiful little boy inside, the fountain of my love, my fearlessness and my child like spirit. It was wonderful to dedicate so much quality time to myself, to plant more seeds of love in the garden of my soul.
10. I am 100% responsible.
What follows is a statement I wrote from myself to me, a reminder of sorts of the critical out-take of my Vipassana experience. Maybe it will resonate with you as well:
The journey to inner peace and happiness lies within. No one else, absolutely no one else can be responsible for your happiness. If you believe that someone else is needed to make you happy then you are suffering from craving and will continue to suffer. If you believe that your unhappiness is a result of someone else then you are suffering from aversion and will continue to suffer. It is only when you accept and live up to the promise to yourself to be 100% responsible that you begin to detox yourself from these poisons. Realise that everything you need for inner peace and happiness already lies within you. Practice harmonising within yourself everyday. Remember the law of impermanence. Remember that you are in total control of how you experience every sensation in your body, no matter what life may throw at you. Remain equanimous. Be love.
I am honoured and humbled that you have read my words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for connecting with me in this way.
May All Beings Be Happy!
b) A little poem I wrote about my wonderful experience at the Marulan Earthship.
c) A two piece creative writing article I wrote about the nature of duality. Part 1 is entitled - Through the Vortex. Part 2 is entitled - The Dichotomy of Duality.
d) A post I wrote entitled - It's About Life - which explains a little more about our electric beings and our electric universe.
e) A short little passage I wrote about.....yearning........