30 Jul 2013, 12:58pm
Life
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Vipassana is a Must-Do

Recently, I went for a 10-day Vipassana camp at Jodhpur. It was a challenging, yet a very satisfying experience. I am sharing my experience for the benefit of everyone, and to debunk the myths that might be associated with it.

Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique discovered by Gautam Buddha, as a way of controlling your mind to get rid of suffering and achieve complete salvation about 2500 years ago. It become extinct from India after about 500 years, before it was brought back to India from Burma by Mr. S.N.Goenka in 1969. The technique is taught in 10-day programme, which includes about 10-1/2 hours of meditation every day starting from 4:30 am in the morning, and following a strict code of discipline, which includes 5 guidelines: no stealing, lying, indulging in sexual activity, etc. Along with this you have a maintain noble silence for 9 days, which means no talking to anyone apart from instructor and management, no use of phones, laptops, reading/writing materials. Food is served only 3 times a day.

On Day 0, the day before the camp started, I reached jodhpur via train, and went straight to the center. It gave me time to acclimatize with the place, and in the evening, I gave away all my valuables, including mobile, laptops, reading materials, which were kept in safe custody. Through an initial discourse my Mr. S.N. Goenka, I got to know about the origin of vipassana, understood the importance of the code of discipline imposed, and learnt the process of Aana-Pana, which means becoming aware of the breath. Also, it was re-iterated that everybody has to stay for 10 days.

On Day 1, we started practicing the Aana-Pana. We are told to keep our eyes closed throughout the session so that our mind doesnt get distracted. In the first morning session, it was really difficult for me to keep my eyes closed for the 2 hours session. I opened it just to find out that only 3-minutes were remaining. Still a big achievement, as I had never kept my eyes closed for this long consciously. Enjoyed the discourse in the evening by Guruji, which became my look-forward to feature of everyday. These every day discourses sought to clarify the purpose of what we were doing, to clarify on what religion truly means in its un-corrupted form, and the history of Vipassana.

On Day 2 & Day3, we again practiced the breath-awareness, along with becoming aware on which nostril the breath is entering & leaving, and where it was touching the inside of the nose. We also practiced becoming aware of sensations inside and near the nose. This is done to sharpen the brain.  We learnt not to react to any sensations mentally and physically. As per the discourses, these conditioned reactions are what causes our misery. We hate painful sensations, feeling anxious, and we get attached to feel-good sensations – wanting them more and more, finally ending in misery. I somehow stuck it out, even though it brought out a lot of anxiety within me, just to be sitting around. In one-particular session, I found it really extremely difficult to manage my overwhelmingly anxious thoughts. After struggling for an hour, fast breathing for a few minutes ultimately cleared my head.

On Day 4, we learnt the actual technique of vipassana, which included taking the mental awareness to different parts of the body and experiencing sensations in different parts. We had to again practice not reacting, not getting attached to any sensation – good or bad, and practice equanimity. We learnt about the adhishthan – which is taking a vow to not change posture. It came from Gautam Buddha, who has taken vow one night, not to change posture till he achieved Bodhi/Nirvana. From now on three sessions of 1 hrs were designated as adhishthan sessions during which we were encouraged not to change posture at all. I laughed inside and thought to myself – that this would be impossible for me.

Day 5 included a pleasant surprise for me. In the second adhishthan session of the day, I went through without changing posture for one hr with my back erect. This was nothing short of a miracle for me. Going forward I achieved this feet in almost all adhishthan sessions barring one or two, despite any amount of pain I experience. Also, I practiced not reacting and maintaining an equanimous nature to pleasant or unpleasant sensations.

Day 6,7,8,9 – included further refinements to vipassana finally also going inside the body to feel the sensations within. Experiencing sensations has a deeper objective of realizing our body as just a combination of waves which are produced one instant and destroyed the other. This deep realization has the power to dis-associate ourselves from the irrational thinking that we are the BODY, when we realize it for ourselves as nothing but a combination of waves.

On Day 10, finally we learned about Metta meditation which is wishing the very best for all our fellow beings.. This is done at the end of Vipassana meditation. After 10 am, we broke the noble silence, and we interacted among ourselves, took photographs. Still, the 3 adhishthan sessions were conducted as usual.

Vipassana finally ended on Day 11 after the morning session of 4:30 to 6:30. In this closing session, we were encouraged to continue practice of 1 hr in the morning and 1 hr in the evening every day.

Overall, this meditation camp was a really fulfilling experience filled with achievements and learning. I had heard a lot about Vipassana and the fact that it is very hard and very few people are able to get through it. It was definitely challenging, but at no-point the thought of quitting crossed my head. My main objective when joining this camp was to get the ability to sit for 20 minutes for meditation. I achieved it by handsome margin. Also, I realized what real religion is and how it has been corrupted by making it filled with rituals and practices, losing the essence. Also, I learnt about the importance of realizing things ourselves, and why it is so important for our growth and progress. Just by reading and doing debates is not going to give us real progress, unless we experience it and incorporate it in our lives wholeheartedly.

I strongly encourage everyone to attend this camp at-least once. This will give you a tool to manage your mind very effectively, which will serve you throughout life. Don’t be discouraged by the hard discipline and long hours of meditation involved. In extreme cases, you can discuss with the instructor who can accommodate any special needs you may have. More details can be found at http://www.dhamma.org/

30 Jul 2013, 2:52pm
by Shashank Jindal


This really is something..!! A new concept, new experience altogether.. Looking forward to it.. Not many days from now.. :)

Too difficult it seems. Every time I think if I would be able to do it, the answer I get is ‘No’ :(

What an amazing experience. I would like to experience it as well.

20 Nov 2013, 4:11pm
by usha bansal


Vipassana is a type of sadhna 0r upasana which energizes your body & soul. People who do it regularly become more confident &positive thinker. It also enhance the power of thoughts. All good things need courage and to leave the comfort Zone. You start with action, recognizing that your body is meant for achieving righteousness through karma. Consistently performing good karmas, in due course you become fit for understanding upasna or devotional practices. The common goal for followers of all the path is to touch divine base with God. When the time is ripe spiritual hunger for God realization manifests strongly and derives inspiration and direction for God-union.
All the people who attended the camp are the positive thinkers. It seems difficult till we not come in practice. When we know the true procedure &benefits of meditation scientifically we take as a cure for stress. If we feel difficulty in making decision , it helps us.

Start by short sessions then increase the time on your convenience.`

Loved reading this. I would def like to go in for this programme. Manish Thanks for sharing :)

 

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