Where do my fingers begin,
[I haven’t spoken for ten days, written for ten days, read for ten days, expressed myself to others for ten days in any vast outward communicative experience –
Where does one begin?]
Now, when I close my eyes, I get an immediate onset sensation of… well, sensation; of pronounced darkness behind my eyes and a swirling mass of movement of my entire body. This is Vipassana. Or at least, this is the beginning birthing of Vipassana. A 10-day journey, I had once thought a mere four or so days ago, was plenty to lure me into the depths of this meditative practice. Now, I see, that those people who go away for 20 days, for a month, are simply further solidifying and exploring this practice to the always changing full extent of their being. That perhaps someday I will again go for another 10 days, or perhaps extend my own experience.
Not that I didn’t get enough out of this; not that I didn’t experience something within myself that truly will resonate with me for some time, every step of my day. At least, I hope it will resonate with me. My fear is that it will dissipate like a line in the sand, blown away slowly, its intense presence decreasing into a dull vapid presence which I find it difficult to reincarnate.
Anyway, I think that a lot of what I learned and churned and entangled will stay with me. It’s not very often that such a compacted experience can leave such a deep impression on your way of being – but the acuteness in which this practice was implemented,
such as [10 days. 10 hours a day of meditation. 2 meals and one light snack. There was tea, boy, was there tea which I looked forward to. Rest and bathing and washing clothing. Walking along the same paths over and over, circles, lines, all sorts of shapes and moldings of your feet on the ground.]
has been a sure indicator of the effectiveness of the way this practice is presented to those who choose to live this life for 10 days.
What I liked most about this 10 day offering, I think, was that it was made clear that the idea behind Vipassana and meditation and its benefits can be easily intellectualized, and understood through the passage of speech and in sermons. However, to be fully understood, it is only fair and rational that we experience the very nature of the practice in order to understand and live within its benefits, to taste its fruit, to see for ourselves. That makes sense, nah?
Everyone can intellectually grasp the concept of ‘cravings’ and ‘aversions’ and how these underlying manifestations in the deep buried portions of ourselves will guide us through life like a ping-pong ball, bouncing away from things we don’t like and tumbling towards those things we do and we think will make us happy. So much on the outside we believe governs and controls our happiness. This or that made me happy or sad. This event, that person, this experience, those words; but is our life that much out of our hands? Is our happiness really implanted by others? Or is it something that we generate, something that we react to, something that seemingly uncontrollably arises in us so quickly and elusively slipping over us that we can’t seem to entangle this automatic feeling from reality.
Reality, truth, is blank and emotionless. ‘Emotionless’ carries such a negative connotation, so perhaps, objective would be a better word. Reality and truth are objective on a larger scale, really. And we can have such positive or negative reactions to this reality, so easily.
What I feel like these 10 days did, somehow, was entangle these positive and negative reactions enough so that I could observe them, understand them from a third-person sort of a view. Detach my ego and dissipate the need to be completely subsumed by my initial need to feel and react and react and react… How do these reactions create our mental and bodily space of happiness or misery? So easily that we find ourselves sitting in our own space of elation or depression, craving more elation or cringing away from depression – how to see the events of life as passing waves of and ever changing and arising and passing universe which we can simply observe. We don’t need to get lost in our own jumble of passionate emotions leading us astray from a resonating trueness that is baring itself within every moment.
Anyway I could obviously go on and talk hullabaloo for a while. Dripping as my fingers stretch themselves on this keyboard, doing their calisthenics playing leap frog over all these little black keys…
Some memorable moments of the days themselves:
Day 1: Shocking, but not as shocking as I thought. I thought I would break down in a tumble weed of stabbing emotions that left me wanting to run away. This did not happen. I think perhaps I entered this experience with a determined mind to explore this technique as honestly and openly as I could in order to give it the fullest fairest trial possible, and this provided an initial shell to protect my mind from slipping into feelings of deep frustration.
Anyway, day one. After two hours of meditation starting at four thirty in the dark morning, and the breakfast and tea, I walked around the complex a bit – the tiny restrictive paths our legs were confined to – and saw up top one of the women dormitories two male peacocks, their decorative feathers displayed in a flayed bouquet of color. The right front corner and left front corner each had its own peacock, spinning eagerly to vie for the attention of the females who were eating in the field below, clearly uninterested and not impressed with the flourishing display I was pleasantly gawking at. Thanks India, for that experience.
Day 7: Seize Her Day. Somehow on the seventh day I experienced my first seizure of life. I wish I could say that it was because I was so in the depths of my mind that some magical combusting reaction sparked such a strong resonance that it propelled me to seize! Pourquoi non.
At the time I had been meditating for four hours or so, five minute breaks every hour or so. Except the last stretch I had been sitting still and quiet for a hefty hour and a half, and it was in a meditation ‘cell’, so I was by myself, secluded in a small room with a mat on the floor, facing a tall blue metal door with a metal lock that needed to be jiggled into a crusty closed position. At five o’clock, I heard the kitchen bell ring to announce the tea break. Good. Eyes open. Go to stand up, little too fast. Remember leaning backwards to stretch out my back got many good cracks I remember that so many good cracks in my back and then my vision went a little blacker and then I remember nothing.
I came to while banging my head against the metal blue door. I was on the floor somehow. My eyes were open but I was paralyzed and could not find out how to feel my body or will it to stop methodically pounding itself against this blue door. And there was a grate at the bottom of the door. I remember seeing the grate and thinking I was trapped in some sort of closed jail cell. Couldn’t understand where I was; complete disorientation of my whereabouts in life. Saw a spark of lightning connect across my vision.
[that was cool]
I stopped shaking, finally – although this whole experience couldn’t have sprawled for more than twenty seconds I would say, perhaps less – I looked around for any clue of what was happening to me and where I was. I can’t recall quite what thoughts perhaps went through my mind; I wish I could remember my exact thought process. It was probably along the lines of –
‘what drug did I possibly ingest to disorient myself this much?? Wait, I didn’t take a drug did someone capture me? Am I being held captive? Wait, maybe someone drugged me and THEN captured me…’
Except all that and more was compressed into one or two or three seconds… then I stretched my eyes up and around looking for clues –
I can move again! Success!
I see the lock on the door. The metal lock that crusts and scratches itself into place. Suddenly I remembered I was at a Vipassana center. Only then did I remember I was in India.
[that was cool]
I ran outside of the hall which contained all the individual cells. I had been the last person in there; most people had been filtering out a bit before the bell rang… It was raining lightly. The sky was patchy with storm clouds and delicate breaks of light between them. The drops were light but misty. It felt good and it felt okay. My first reaction was to yell out to the first person I saw,
‘I just had a seizure!’
But I suppressed this quickly – the helpers here were merely volunteers that had themselves completed a course in Vipassana. Some were young, my age – there was no hope of any sort of ‘first aid’ here. Would these people give me some sort of solace I couldn’t provide myself with my own limited medical knowledge?
I felt shaky and edgy afterwards for a bit… but I realized that I had probably been experiencing some sort of nutrient deprivation, limited movements, lots of upward sitting and combine a calm mind with immediate standing harsh movement draining blood fast or rushing blood fast… I don’t know, it seemed that I could make sense of it.
Later that evening during one of the sittings, I sat with silent tears. This was my only sort of moment where I truly I lost myself in my a swarm of uncontrolled emotions. I could simply dredge up a word or a person or a moment and the tears would just push themselves out of the corners of my eyes. All of the emotions I had trailing behind such things were boiling beneath them and it was a truly amazing experience to watch the entire immediate reaction manifest in a sadness that could drip down my face.
I think I read somewhere once that we use the same muscles to laugh as we do to cry. Different sides of the same coin.
Each day was a different mental program for me.
I also heard a lot of analogies. If analogies were large amounts of water, I could fill the Ganges with all those analogies.
Things to go and places to do. This savage post that merely scratches the surface of a 10-day mental/bodily/spiritual examination could never exemplify exactly what I went through. But I realize that all of life is like that, nah? An experience is really only felt and realized and understood when it is manifested within you as an experience. Writing about it to be intellectually grasped is a beautiful ability that we do have, but ultimately I know that these words have to end somewhere and I know that the extent of what they can portray and relive for me will only reach as far as the word does go in our conscious mental understanding.
Things to go and places to do to do to do.