The 10 days which change my life forever
Anyone can try it and experience the magic.
“You should do Vipassana.” She told me after returning from a mountaineering course. I heard that word she told but didn’t figure it out. The second day again she told me the same “You should do Vipassana.” I skipped again. I met her after a long time. The last time we were together at a railway station in Pondicherry. The irony is, she came to see-off me. It was the last day of my university life. So now when I got her, many things were to memorize and so much to share. She went after spending a few short days with me. I came back to my old routine. Get up and go office. Come back and do some meaningless things. Monotony is too boring.
Days passed. I recalled the time we spend. Then suddenly the word came in my mind, “Vipassana”. What is it? She told me some meditation kind of thing with some odd rules and etc. Odd? Fine. Odd is good. I googled it. And oh my God!!! To my surprise what I found was unexpected. I did little research and make my mind to give it a try. And the funny thing was I took my mobile and boomerang her text to her, “You should do Vipassana.”
What is Vipassana:
Simply it means seeing things as they are. Stressed on a nonjudgmental attitude.
Life is full of sorrows and sufferings. The suffering is due to craving, aversion, and ignorance. We acquired cravings and aversion towards something through our habit patterns and socialization. Those states of mind are not permanent. Vipassana is a process to gain liberation from suffering.
What is Vipassana in other way:
The Five vows for the following ten days:
(a) To refrain from stealing
(b) To refrain from killing
(c) To refrain from telling lies (in this context, to remain in noble silence, i.e., to not communicate in any manner, verbal or non-verbal, with anyone except the administration or the teacher)
(d) To refrain from sexual misconduct
(e) To avoid all intoxicants
Total surrender to the very idea in those ten days. No talking, no eye contact, no communication, no reading, no writing, no phone call. Total out of touch to the outer world. You have to survive on only one meal a day. Great. Isn’t this sound adventurous? Sure, it is. Yes… No need for a second thought and I packed my bag.
I reached the center with an empty mind (or I pretend to be like that). It was a rainy evening. The Ganga river is flowing just beside the center. Although I didn’t get time to go and see the river bank on that day. I went directly to the office. Complete all the formalities like fill up a small form and declaration to obey all the rules. They were very polite and warm in behavior. I get allotted to room no FF12. Clean, spacious with 24 hours power supply. It is a 200 years old building with big doors and windows. I liked that old essence.
At eight o clock, we were instructed to go to the hall. A video containing the rules and regulations of the coming ten days were shown. After that, we went to the main meditation hall and allotted a cushion each on a respective place. We sat there. The hall was big, airy, and clean. I gave a glance all around it. There were nearly 50 students who came here for enlightenment. They are of all ages and to my little surprise, nearly half of them are young like me. We meditate for one hour and went to sleep. Noble Silence starts.
The days proceed as per schedule. The meditation during these days involves observing the breath as it is naturally happening, as one inhales or exhales. The focus remains on the nasal region and on remaining aware of whether one is using one or both the nostrils while breathing. The students are advised to breathe a little hard for a few moments if they are unable to concentrate their minds or if they are unable to feel the breath. The technique is called Anapana.
One incident happened on the very first day. After the wake-up bell, I started to meditate on my bed as it is written optional in the schedule. The man with the bell came to me and started ringing the bell. I couldn’t understand the meaning of that. I continued, so the man too. Then I understand he is trying to say something different (to meditate in the hall room). So I stopped my meditation then only he went.
The first day was a really tough one for me. Especially the marathon from 1 pm to 5 pm meditation. Time became almost still here. At that time so many things started to distract my mind. Why I came here? Certainly, it was not a good idea to give a try to this. I am going to waste my precious for ten days. I could go to some hill stations and would enjoy myself with my friends. After all, what I am doing here? Is it me? What is this? So many things did come and go. And the bell rang. It seems that I got freedom from slavery. Came out of the hall. Looked upon the sky. It was heavy with the ash cloud. Certainly, the sky was trying to say something. I realized it with the sound of the bell. I got freedom but it stayed with me only for 5 mins. Again went back and sat still on the cushion, eyes closed, observing my breaths.
As I told, The first day was really tough. A sudden unfamiliar transformation around you. You can’t talk to anyone. You can’t even stare at your fellows. Only be confined into you. And the thought that you are going to carry all those odd things with you in the coming ten days will distract you all the time.
The meditation during the second day involves observing the breath as before, with the added awareness of where the breath is touching the skin in the nasal region.
On day three, the awareness of breath includes what sensations one is feeling on the skin in the nasal region (on the nose, on the nostril rings and below the nose and above the upper lip).
Vipassana starts at the end of day four. Those Anapana days were the making of mind to do Vipassana. These four days of observing breathing will sharpen your mind. Observing the minute sensations of the nasal region. And suddenly you will feel that it’s not about the observation of sensations of that particular area. It has a bigger application.
We are instructed to move their focus to the top of the head and methodically move it through each part of the body till the focus reaches the tips of the toes, feeling the sensations on each part of the body as they traverse the body. We are instructed not to either like or dislike the sensations and to calmly and equanimously observe them as being transient phenomena. In short, this is the core technique of Vipassana.
In this span of time, I was much comfortable with my surroundings by the law of habit. I started to enjoy the process. I have already done 40 hours of meditation until that time. The described routine was strictly followed and I had a mixed feeling of exploring new things and maintaining the strict rules. The rules are strict but no one was there to force me to abide by. I was conditioned to do that. And certainly, this was the best and beautiful part of Vipassana. We the fellows are eating together, walking together, meditating together, and yet we don’t know how one looks like, as we were not allowed to eye contact. In this process, we have felt an invisible link among us. We don’t communicate but a built of collective communication was in making. The noble silence was everywhere yet the surroundings were so sonic that can’t be explained.
Days passed. We stacked with meditation. Suddenly I have realized that things changing. My horizon of observation increased. I started to see things I ignored before. I started to hear things I didn’t mind before. The world around me came with her new dimensions. I tried to focus on my mind, looked into my inner self, to whom I didn’t communicate for ages. I felt so nearer to my self even so connected to the world.
When walking in the small garden of our campus my eyes did catch up things vividly. I could see every leaf fell on the ground, green, brown, yellowish with many shapes and texture. I could differentiate those smells coming from different plants and flowers. I could feel the intensity of wind on my skin and see the leaf falling from trees, sailing in the wind and slowly land on the ground. Even I could hear the sound when it touched the ground. One day I discovered an extremely red-colored flower inside a deep bush I didn’t see in my first few days. The battalion of ant, unknown insects, colorful butterflies, chameleon under the leaf, the texture of shadows, everything came to me with a new meaning, that is life. The world is full of life on its every inch, in its every moment.
On the seventh day, we got a change that came to us as a relief. A new thing in our monotonous world. We are allotted a cell each inside the pagoda. I got cell no 10. The instructor guided us to the pagoda to show our respective cells. The joy of the river was flowing in my heart. I have fantasized several times to meditate like a Buddhist monk. The inspiration was definitely Chinese or Korean movies. It seems romantic to me. And now I got something like that although in India but in a real pagoda. We entered the hall. Full of silence everywhere. Literally, we can hear our hearts bit inside it. I was allotted my cell. A 7feet/3feet room with no window except a small round hole for ventilation. A narrow ray of light is coming through that. Inside the room what I found is only a cushion. Our instructor told us to switch off the light and to close the door from inside. It will help us to meditate peacefully. Within a minute a strange thought came into my mind. A few minutes ago I felt a glimpse of relief from monotony. And here everything became still within a minute. Moments seem hours, Hour seems years. I understood the concept of relativity very clear. Frankly speaking, I was dedicated and committed to the meditation up to the seventh day. After that, it was a half-hearted effort from me. And here in the small cell in the pagoda, it seems very unusual to me. I stopped meditating. While opening my eyes another thought came in my mind. The whole surroundings have a resemblance to the prison. I started to wonder how a prisoner’s life is. I am here only for a few minutes but they are bound to spend years in this cell-like cell. Really to thinking of it to be in the cell froze me. I started to explore other ways to do it at that time. Birds chatting was coming from outside. I could hear the sound of leaves playing with the breeze outside there. Except that everything was still and silent. Suddenly we got another change. A strange odd sound (Definitely in that situation and surroundings) swim across the pagoda. I realized that it is coming from my next cell. The meditator of that cell got the nice opportunity to sleep and the deep sound of his snoring explained clearly the level of comfort of sleeping in the absence of an instructor.
On the tenth day morning, the noble silence was over. We looked at each other. It was a transition time. Imagine complete silence for ten days and then you have allowed speaking. We rushed at each other. We started to communicate through a structured language. The common questions were how one came to know about Vipassana and how one felt in the process. The responses were mixed, a few common few not. The whole day we discussed with other fellows. I came to know that people came here from a variety of backgrounds. I met one professor from Jadavpur University, another was a chartered accountant. Few were businessmen and few were monks. Someone was in MNC and someone was a traveler. The girl from Paris or the boy from Japan. I mean it was not defined. If you want to define it then go for variations.
The next day morning we packed our bag and goodbye to the campus. We went to Ganga, flowing side along. Spend some times. Had chitchat. Clicked photos. Made friends. Then returned to the busy world. The familiar chaos, car horn, vehicles, loudspeaker, and so on. We were conditioned for ten days in silence. We didn’t talk and suddenly everything changed. Definitely, the change was disturbing. But we went on. To go on and to go on. If you stop you are dead. So go on. Go on towards what? In the right direction. This is life.
My friend was waiting for me at Sealdah. I took a train from Dumdum. The train went on. Went towards what? In the wrong direction. Everything became unclear to me again. The stations coming on the way were unfamiliar to me. I took the wrong train. I have to get down from it cause my friend is still waiting for me down there and I have so many things to share with her.
What is your version of Vipassana? Do you want to experience this inner adventure? If you have any queries, ask me.
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