On Vipassana

I just spent 10 days in a Vipassana near Ubud in Landih Ashram, which is amidst the mountains near the Kintamani Agung, mountiain that’s around 2000m high, the weather is around 25*C, rains mildly, bust most of all you are amidst beautiful nature.

We had an international group of students from all over the world and the teachers flew in all the way from Canada to teach the course. Note that all of Vipassana runs on donations.

What is Vipassana?

In Pali, the language that Buddha spoke 2500 years ago, it means looking at reality as is and not who you want it to be.

I went in with an open mind and took it up as a challenge to meditate straight for 10 days which I have never done before. I have done meditations before and come from a culture where I have meditated from young. Further, I have never been away from using my phone or computer for that long either.

How does it work?

In general you are meditating close to 7 hours starting at 4 am and ending at 9 pm with 4 sessions, spread across 2 hour and 1 hour sessions with a discourse for an hour with Goenka at 7:30 pm.

Thoughts
  1. No, you don’t get enlightened in 10 days.
  2. I became more aware of the reactive nature of my mind.
  3. When fear or anxiety arises in any thought
  4. At some points, I went on a journey with an idea 5. I had in mind, and gave power to the thought and loved the journey, though that’s craving and the process is to be aware of the imagination and get back to the present moment.
  5. Some thoughts get crazy when you do nothing but meditate. Movies, comics and nightmares, dreams don’t even define crazy. An idle mind is a devils’ workshop and that’s what you learn about the mind.
  6. Self doubt crept in whether if I am doing this right and I did think about skipping sessions, slept through a few and did want to leave on the 6th day. But the teacher was kind and prodded me further.
  7. You become very aware of bodily sensations even at the tiniest parts.This is the core of Vipassana to know what you feel to any stimuli with your body and short circuit if and how your mind reacts to it. Your mind has a lot of preconditioning on how to react to fear, anxiety, pain, love, happiness etc.
  8. Disassociate physical pain from mental pain.
    I faced a lot of back pain from the 4th day and interestingly on the 7th, once you don’t react to the pain and you focus your attention on different parts of the body, you only sense the physical pain and that’s bearable. :)
  9. I ended up just smiling for no reason the the whole of last day.
  10. You deeply understand and experience your reality, the sensations that you have in your body, moment to moment.
  11. Irrespective of what you feel or think, you maintain equanimity and awareness moment to moment, with non reactivity, not having aversion fo the pain to go or having craving for any kind of sensations.
  12. Vipassana is more practical than I thought it was. Leave philosophy and intellectual discussions aside and dives deep in.
  13. You tend to observe even the tiniest detail of sound, light, sight in nature and start observing things in detail in your breaks, which is beautiful
  14. You are agitated initially for a couple of days wondering what’s happening on FB, Instagram, if you’ll miss a major event in the world, but life goes on and on the 11th day I was overwhelmed opening my phone again. I am more aware now, at least briefly since its just two days how I am using my devices.
  15. I felt like continuing further after 10 days in the state of silence and work deeper in my meditations.

Starting to talk again on the 10th day feels awkward, and puts your brain in another mode altogether, the ‘chattering’ mode and is the day to day modality of the brain, not what you experience at Vipassana! You do feel like a child again talking. My words weighed more the last few days, lets see!

For friends who are interested in trying Vipassana
If you are new to meditation, I suggest taking a few weeks before to meditate and feel comfortable meditating an hour everyday.
Be mentally prepared that its not a retreat where you relax. You need to work on your meditation.
Be physically fit, and have your back and glutes strong. You’ll have to sit for a long hours being still.
Take as many cushions as you need to make you feel comfortable during meditations.
Have a sweater to feel warm during the night if its cold in your location.