My Vipassana Experience: Day 1-2 Reflections

PART II

Here is a summary of the discourse in my words and my reflections:

AWARENESS OF RESPIRATION, NOTHING BUT RESPIRATION.

NO MANTRAS.

Observing bare respiration, as it is, not regulating it, no word, or imagined forms (such as deities or Angels)

This concentration on respiration is the beginning of eradication of all metal defilements, purifying the mind, liberating from all misery.

When we have impure thoughts (using Goenka’s words) of anger, hatred, passion, fear – we become miserable. When something unwanted happens, we become tense. This happens over and over again, one on top of the other, overlooking our mental and physical structure, which is taken out on others around us as well.

This course help to learn the Art of Living; living peacefully and harmoniously within oneself and to generate peace and harmony for all others, how to live happily daily while progressing towards the highest happiness of a totally pure mind, a mind filled with love, compassion, joy at the success of others, with equanimity.

To learn the Art of Living as described above, firstly it is imperative to find the cause of disharmony within us. This technique helps you to examine your own mental and physical structure, where you have much attachment which brings about tensions and misery in your life. This technique is a truth realisation, self-realisation, investigating the reality of YOU or ME.

In order to better understand these disharmonies, one must directly experience it.

“Know thyself – from superficial, apparent, gross reality, to subtler realities, to the subtlest reality of mind and matter.”

Breathing is an amazing tool to explore this truth of ourselves. This technique develops your awareness through your breath, of not just your physical outer body, but all its parts, its functions, tis internal organs, cells of the body – which are changing at every moment. Innumerable biochemical and electromagnetic reactions are occurring constantly throughout the body, yet we are not constantly aware of them. The respiration on this day, builds up to act as a bridge from the known, to the unknown, as respiration is one function of the body that can be either conscious or unconscious, intentional or automatic.

Whilst observing my breath during this first day’s process, it was quite apparent how my thoughts affect my breath. As soon as I experienced anger, anxiety, etc., the breath would become abnormal, as in heavy and rapid.

The mind is like a wild animal it wanders all the time, to wild thoughts that result in wild breathing. This mostly stems from thought of the pat or anxiety about the future. The mind is constantly switching from past, present to future and we train our minds as to where we would like it to remain. Whether it is in the past or future. The present is seldom there until we train our mind to remain there. Where the mind is constantly trying to escape from present to a past or future that is unattainable, the wild mind becomes agitated and miserable.

Life can only be lived in the present.

We must learn to live in the present moment, by keeping our minds on a present reality.

Through this day 1 technique, the mind wandering is acknowledged, accepted and trained to break the old pattern through smiling.

Most important reflection for me from this first day:

-Persistence will pay off, with daily practice, despite impurities that arise, know that they will come to pass.

- Only I can do this for myself, no one else!

- Only I can liberate me.

At the end of this day, after the discourse, I was feeling a little less anxious about the next step, knowing that it is all leading to where I will need to be.

It was a challenge to get to sleep at the end of this night, again missing my family, but using the breathing (concentrating on my respiration), did help me to find balance for the night. Most nights I fell asleep by 10 pm  shortly after my nightly ritual of shower, and getting things ready for the next day. And then, as I lay down in my bed, I imagined myself sitting on my bed at home with my family, bidding them all good night, with words of encouragement and love for each of them.

A few words from the Pascale:

Please note that this blog entry is purely an outlet for me to share my experience. In no way, am I dictating how everyone’s experience will be. Everyone’s experience of this meditation process will be different, as well as the reflections that is gained from the experience. Please read this only as a story of my experience and perhaps a tool to help you make a decision to participate in this yourself but not as gospel of the experience. I hope you enjoy my story and thank you for taking the time out to read it :)

Source: S N GOENKA DISCOURSE SUMMARIES BOOKLET

…Coming soon: DAY 3-4

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My Vipassana Experience: Day 1-2

My Vipassana Experience

Day 1 – 2(Wednesday 9/1/2013 – Thursday 10/1/2013)

PART I

I was so anxious to get to the course, making sure that the family were all taken care of before I left for the next 10 days. Once they were all sent off to my Mother in Law’s on the day I was leaving, it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing. It was tough!! Once they all left, the house felt so empty. It was also a prelude to NOT being with them, leaving them, talking to them, hugging them, for the next 10 days.

The morning of Wednesday 9th of January, I began to doubt what I was doing. Also began to wonder if it would all happen as I hadn’t received any confirmation from the centre, which was just a kind of mini panic on my part at the time. I seemed to also be looking for a reason to not be going or an exit strategy. Even though this is what I truly wanted, knew that this is what I was supposed to do, but was still looking for ways to sabotage it in my mind.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had experienced many methods of meditation, but they were all unique in their own way, and this one really couldn’t compare. The drive there was lovely, I don’t remember going on such a peaceful 45 minute drive on my own through the bush/valleys before. It was quite refreshing and helped to prepare me for the week ahead.

When I got there, it was all about saying on last goodbye to hubby on the phone(before not being able to contact anyone for 10 days), then organising to get my many bags and things out of the car, up the hill and some steps in to the dining room – where registrations were being held. Thankfully, there was a very helpful girl who helped me to carry some of my stuff. I was hesitant to speak to her though, as I was unsure when the noble silence rule began. Feeling nervous at this time still, but it was beginning to subside once amongst others there to experience the same thing.

Went through the registration process at the desk, obtained my room number and then carried all my stuff to the room to set up. Again, I really wasn’t sure what to expect for accommodation but I would say that in my imagination, it was worse. We had a very thin mattress on a wooden frame to sleep on , with a small bedside table – in a room, divided into for section with a piece of plywood separating us. It took me about 10 minutes to set myself up and then went back to the dining room where the rest of the ladies were waiting(men & women are segregated in this course). We all sat outside for about 1-2 hours, waiting for the registration to be completed. We were able to communicate with each other at that time, which to me was good and bad. I think it made it a little more challenging to make connections prior to not being able to communicate at all for the next 10 days.

We were then served a light supper (soup & bread) before all the formalities began and then we were sent to the meditation hall for our first meditation and talk. By this time, it was about 8.30-9pm. Noble silence began at this time.

In my mind, this was going to be so easy before I got there. But when we were told, no eye contact, no gesture, and no other form of communicating like body language. I realised that I will just have to keep my head down, as when I make eye contact with people, I can’t help but smile at them. Especially challenging with roommates, with whom I had connected with before the noble silence began. I saw many others not talking to anyone in the dining room area and thought maybe I should have adopted that strategy and began with no contact. But that’s how it was as this is how I am, connecting with people is important to me.

By the time we got to bed, it was 9.20pm

Wow that was early for me! I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. I was especially missing my family. But it was important that I tried to sleep as we had to be up extremely early!

GOOONG GOOONG GOOOOONG!

4am Thursday 10th of January 2013

That bell was amazing with how it got into my deepest sleep and woke me up!

It was challenging to wake up that first morning, that’s for sure!

I had my shower the night before, so only had to dress and brush my teeth and wash my face as my daily morning ritual.

GOOONG GOOONG GOOOOONG!

4.25am

Time for us to be in the meditation hall, ready to meditate and having received instructions from the previous night, knew what we had to do.

Getting comfortable was the most challenging with the concrete floor, not so thick mat and one cushion is all I started with. As well as my own yoga mat I brought along which didn’t prove to be very comfy at all. But at times, served a purpose.

For the first day of meditation, we were to merely observe our breath through the nose and also observe our thoughts. So wherever my mind wandered, I was to bring my attention back to the breath in and out of my nose.

Sounds easy right!?!?!?!?

Oh yeah…

NOT

It was definitely not easy.

This is when you realise just how many thoughts go through your mind. As I mentioned, I have experienced meditations before but with this technique, it was as though I was experiencing new thought on top of the old ones.  This first day was the toughest, in finding that equanimity and bringing attention back to my breath, leaving the thoughts. I was clearly not alone in this. Thinking the meditation room would be quiet, but there were so many distractions, such as coughing, sneezing, breathing, moving, etc…

Morning meditations ran from 4.30am – 6.30am. Half an hour before, S. N. Goenka (the teacher who teaches via audio and video), chants and then we quietly carry ourselves to the dining room for breakfast. I was quite hungry that morning- ate a whole bowl of porridge with some prunes and fresh peaches, along with a herbal tea. Then my eyes were just bigger than my stomach, and decided to have a small bowl of muesli with yoghurt. Was then completely full and needed a walk around the waking area to work it out before going to have my morning shower, prior to the next meditation session – which was @ 8am every morning.

For the next few sessions of meditation- there was a choice of being in the hall or in my room, we continued to practice the same method, over and over. There was a bit of napping in there as I was very tired from waking up so early in the morning. By the evening/afternoon, I was getting quite anxious, anticipating the next step.

A reflection of my life, not always happy to take each step as it comes, always looking to see how I can manifest instant gratification.

Although by the end of the evening, which all evenings ended with, I enjoyed the discourse that we get to watch S N Goenka deliver via video. Although the first day, I didn’t see the video, as I was recommended to listen to the French translation. Which was lovely, but I didn’t relate to as much as when I listened to in English. The summary at the end of the day helped me to bring together what I had endured throughout the day as well as an understanding.

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