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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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."
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,
a fairytale ending the rest of my life on this planet of duality
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