Vipassana Meditation- “The Art of Living”

When I stumbled across the Dhamma Khetta Vipassana Meditation Centre in Hyderabad I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never meditated before in fact I didn’t really know what meditation was, I’ve had neck/back/shoulder pain since I can remember + my mental state wasn’t great yet there was something in me that thought it would be great. I remember mentioning to my sister what I was planning to do + her words “I couldn’t think of anything worse, why would you want to do that!” Perhaps it was someone challenging me that I’d hate it, perhaps it was synchronicity of a year previously I had been travelling solo around Sri Lanka + I had looked into doing a meditation course but had been scared off- namely because I didn’t know how to meditate. Perhaps it was because I was accepted + that gave me encouragement…?

Whatever it was I did it.

To give you an overview of 10 days silent meditation, when you first arrive you are asked to sign the Code of Discipline or precepts;

  1. Abstain from killing any being (harder than you think when you clean your own room each morning sweeping up ants + spiders)
  2. Abstain from stealing
  3. Abstain from all sexual activity
  4. Abstain from telling lies
  5. Abstain from all intoxicants

On top of this there is the noble silence of body, speech + mind- no gestures, eye contact, music, reading, writing etc. Separation of men + women, no physical contact, yoga or exercise, cameras etc. Basically shutting out the world!

Each day is structured as follows;

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell (nothing like a cold bucket shower to wake you up!)
4:30-6:30 am 2 hr meditation
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break (hot bucket shower if you’re lucky!)
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall, room or cell
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and chance to speak with the teacher to clarify any of the teachings
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall, room or cell
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break of chai, popcorn or puffed rice (no ‘food’ after midday)
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation
9:00-9:30 pm Question time
9:30 pm Retire to room–Lights out

The 10 days are broken up with the first 3 days dedicated to anapana (awareness of breath) + the additional 7 to vipassana (awareness of sensations). Throughout the 10 days you battle with your mind, your bod, your determination + your sanity! But when you reach day 9 + you ‘break the silence’ you feel completely different. Your senses are heightened, you feel an inner peace + real happiness (at least I did!) Partly from completing the course + partly from the 10 hours a day of meditating/training the mind.

Everyone’s experience will be different- some people have outer body experiences, some experience full ‘flow’ of sensations throughout the body + some simply can’t handle it + leave. My experience was unique in that I was expecting my period during the 10 days + during a mid-morning meditation on about the 5th or 6th day I had an excruciatingly itchy/painful sensation inside my right aim. Adhering to the practise I didn’t react to the sensation, open my eyes or scratch my arm despite the humorous agony I was encountering. When the meditation came to an end I looked down at my arm + despite there being nothing there I could still feel the sensation- it was so strong I felt I had to have a shower to wash/cleanse myself from the feeling. So I did. On my way back to the meditation hall I stopped to go to the bathroom + discovered I had my period. Whether the two things were related I’ll never know but I feel that the connection between my body + the signals it was sending my mind were an example of how iN TUNE I was. This is something we’re not tuned into enough in life- we’re too busy, tired, stressed to connect + listen to our bodies.

Would I recommend doing a 10 day course? 100% it changed my life + helped me understand the power of meditation. Do I still meditate? That’s for another post. But without a doubt it will be the most challenging, physically + mentally training yet rewarding things you’ll ever do but also extremely fulfilling, peaceful + happy- real inner happiness things you’ll even do.

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