Vipassana Meditation
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Vipassana meditation:






Lost in traveler’s heaven/hell Pushkar in India, chaiboys openly selling balls of opium, tolas of charras, almost anything you like, BUT no eggs allowed. Of course in all the holy places in India many things are forbidden, although everything is available for the right price. After being totally disillusioned by the fake holiness I met an English guy with a really refreshing energy. Something about his vibration and the things he was saying struck a chord deep within me. "Reality is not as you would like it to be, but as it is." And many more of such gems of wisdom... He had just arrived fresh from a 10-day Vipassana course. He told my friend Paula and me all about the meditation technique and that the center was quite close by.
So off we set to Jaipur heading for Dhamma Thali Vipassana Center. It was a beautiful place, quite small and set in a wonderful garden. The sight of the many wondrous peacocks that lived there and the silent peaceful energy gave one a special feeling.

We began by filling out an intimate questionnaire asking about mental health and other such personal things. Then we had to place all our possessions into a box and prepare ourselves for the course.
It's amazing what certain environments can do for our soul and sense of wellbeing. It was so comforting for me to see that the vast majority of people in the course were Indian people from all walks of life. This wasn't some westerner created fad. The hall had been built in 1977; I hear today that there are a hundred halls on six and a half hectares of land. My time there was 1990 and so I remember it being small and cozy.
Finding out that the teaching method of Vipassana was over 2500 years old attracted me more as I was so done with this new age stuff. After a gypsy, no rules kind of existence, that I'd been living for quite a while, the rules and regulations of Vipassana nearly killed me! Oh my god! First wake up bell four a.m., yes, 4 a.m.! Still the middle of the night for me usually. Alas what pure joy can arise at this time, no wonder sages and yogis throughout the ages chose this time to arise and greet the new day. The quality of anything possible, the rich, fertile, in-betweeness of night and day, the lack of fulfilling ones usual rituals/addictions open so many physical and nonphysical doorways.

I quickly adjusted and adapted myself to the course and began to love the wake-up-bell! Honestly! I won't go in the exact Vipassana timetable. To brake it down, early to rise at four a.m., early to bed, nine p.m., little to eat, ten hours every day sitting meditation and of course the hardest part of all (especially for a chatterbox like me) noble silence. I had to hide myself away for a few times to laugh at the bizarreness of the noble silence concept. Yes, from the outside it sure looked noble. All these beings walking around in total silence, but in my head was noble chaos.
For the first time in my life I truly realized how crazy I am, I mean really crazy! Sound and vibration are the basis of our reality. Take away that constant outer noise and with what are you left? The loudest, most deafening sound of all: your mind, ho ho ho. I really felt like I was going insane, how can this internal, never ending dialogue be switched off? What a load of messed up, out of sync rubbish. Talking about the monkey mind, I had a million of these little cheeky chattering, never keeping still creatures living in my mind. Maybe this doesn't sound so earth shattering to you, but believe me, it shook me to my foundations.

The only distraction of the day was Goenka’s taped lectures at seven p.m. I looked so forward to hearing this guy speak. Every day the subject matter was perfect. Laughing and joking about the days mental experiences his voice felt like having a soothing, refreshing balm rubbed onto a wound. Goenka has a fantastic sense of humor. To add to this it was also the only time of the day that I allowed myself to relax a little.
The teaching and directions were actually very simple and easy, the body adjusted quickly, but the mind! What marvelous training for the mind. I remember thinking how instead of sending 18-year-olds to the military, they should all do a 10-day Vipassana course instead. I am convinced the world would be a better place. Awareness, self-awareness, what does it mean? Well, beginning by observing the sensations of the small triangle between the nose and the mouth (anapana). Sounds so easy, but try staying on that place fully focused for more than a few minutes without your mind distracting you. Oh, and by the way, good luck!

What is in the mind? I was sad to find theme-tunes from crap TV shows dominating my head. Songs weather I liked them or not were there too, with varied, uncontrollable volumes. Ok, there was some good stuff too. My grandmother laughing and sharing her take on the world. My parents and siblings and friends. What disturbed me were the random pictures and sounds of teachers, strangers and seemingly insignificant events being replayed over and over again. The feeling of no choice left me shaky and unsure.
The golden key for me was realizing that like the river the mind is constantly flowing. But it is up to you how much attention you give it.
After a few days the focus of the place between the nose and lips changes and you begin three times a day for one hour periods meditating not only in silence, but not moving a muscle too. It was during one of these periods that something inside of me snapped. A moment of clarity stretched into the realms of no time, bliss-ed out, my body began to vibrate at a different frequency. The closest I come to describing it is by imagining an all over body orgasm. Every cell pulsing and throbbing reaching out and feeling this sensation way beyond the physical form.
Being the drama queen I am, I jumped up and almost ran from the hall into the arms of a lovely woman. She was an old student and sensed I couldn't keep the vow of silence any longer. I laughed and cried as I revealed to her how I had searched for that feeling all my life. How I had tried so many things and looked in so many places, only now to discover "IT" is inside of me. Depending on nothing and none. She was really very warm and understanding and told me: "That feeling always was, is and will be inside of you, it is you, your natural state of being."

I would love to tell you that from that moment on I became Mrs. Buddha, awake, aware, enlightened ahhhh alas it was not to be. The remaining time of the course flew by. I switched on a body consciousness that has never switched off or should I say I became aware of a constant, eternal awareness which from then on I sometimes have the grace to focus on.
The peacocks and squirrels at the center seemed to sense the transformation of the people. Day by day they came closer and closer until they were eating from the hands of everyone. They were blessing the people who had the understanding of oneness.
On the tenth day everyone is allowed to speak again. Oh, what madness and beauty! I had mixed feelings about breaking the vow of silence. As a poet and a lover of words I knew how sometimes there are no words to describe the experiences we experience. Half melancholic, half exited to pick up one of my biggest addictions talking. It was an amazing energy when everyone began to speak. I found out that my friend Paula had also had her own incredible insight into her being. She and everyone else I connected with looked shiny, bright and brand new. All had a huge Cheshire cat grin plastered onto their faces and all had a tale to tell.
Like everything on this planet there are plusses and minuses for every situation. Before I left I took a quick look into the mirror and was so pleased to see how shiny, bright and brand-new I looked, too.

In a fairytale ending the rest of my life on this planet of duality would be filled with love, light and blessings from the divine. TRUE, with the addition that I'm not always aware of that. Four Vipassana courses later, pregnant with my first daughter, I felt like I had had enough from Vipassana. I had learned to more or less apply the techniques to my every day life.
Now, almost 20 years later, Maya still constantly teases me and convinces me that all is so solid, heavy and real. I give thanks as I remember my whole physical body dissolving into the nothingness that vast empty space of eternal ever expanding potential.

Loka samasta sukinu bavantu
May all the beings in all the worlds be happy




Note: S.N. Goenka was born in Burma to Indian parents. He was raised a Hindu. He married Ilaichidevi and together they had six sons. After becoming a successful industrialist he became interested in meditation in the quest to cure his chronic migraines. He studied with U Ba Khin and eventually went on to found an international network of Vipassana centers. He is a really amazing man and to this day he continues to spread the Dharma. I had the good fortune to meet him a few times and whenever I think of him the words loving kindness and equanimity spring to mind.  To find out more visit


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