Parmendra is back from Vipassana and has submitted a very comprehensive in-depth account. A must read for every one:
What is Vipassana?
The word ‘Vipassana’ means “to see things as they really are.” Vipassana is one of the world’s most ancient techniques of meditation which was rediscovered about 2500 years ago by Gautam Buddha. Here it is very essential to mention that it’s not associated to Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religion.
As I found out, it is a totally scientific technique of self-observation. It focuses on deep interconnection between mind and body. It is an observation based self-explanatory journey in which you feel (not learn) the nature of your mind how it regresses, how it produces sufferings and how after practising Vipassana this super self-consciousness leads to a life characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and more importantly peace.
As I wrote in my last post after suffering from depression (chronic unhappiness) and living in denial for a long time, finally I accepted it. As it is rightly said, “Acceptance is the most important step for your problems.” Perhaps because then we are ready to talk about it openly and the same happened with me. Although, I had been hearing about Vipassana for a long time but I never thought I would go for it. Reasons were countless—
· This sounds too hectic; I won’t be able to make it.
· I can’t afford to have a 10 days break in a row.
· I don’t need that, this isn’t my type.
· I have never done one hour meditation in my life how I am supposed to meditate 10 hours a day.
· What is the sense in being silent for 10 days?
And many more and they all sound absolutely sensible and logical then. But I have acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and there is a saying which has always helped me in taking big steps in my life—
They say, “towards the end of your life, lying on a bed in some hospital, when you’ll look back you’ll regret more on the things you haven’t done in your life rather than the ones you have.”
About the ten days course
There exists many centres of Vipassana throughout the country and most of them offer the 10 days course. You can register for it on their website www.dhamma.org. This whole cycle of teaching Vipassana techniques works on donations given by past students for the future ones. Thus, there is no charge for the course, for accommodation and for your daily meals.
You have to stay at their centres for all ten days. You have to live in complete seclusion from the outer world. You have to maintain complete silence for first 9 days of the course. For the people who are attending for the first time there will be meals three times a day, morning breakfast, lunch and evening tea with snacks but no dinner. About 10 hours of meditation is the part of the daily routine. You are allowed to ask your doubts to your teacher.
What did I learn there?
Meditation, silence and such high level of self-discipline were the different world things for me before attending this session. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t sure whether I would make it or not. But as Sachin sir rightly said “Environment is stronger than will.” The environment there was so conducive that it made all this much easier to follow. Let me divide my experiences in two parts—
SILENCE — ‘A nine days silence’ for sure it was the biggest challenge for anyone like me who loves to talk. Besides it, I was never convinced for the logics behind the concept of silence. I remember, once when Sachin sir took me to an Ashram near Herbertpur, where the Guruji was silent for years. Most of my questions were related to the silence only. But its rightly said, “experience is far more explanatory than debates.” Now after going through it I realized how amazingly silence itself can solve many of our daily life sufferings and how it is the first step in controlling our mind, our endless chain of thoughts and constant worries which spirals us down to sadness, anger, hate and all our sufferings.
VIPASSANA — The course duration is divided into in two parts:
Anapana (first 3 days): It is better known as ‘Mindfulness’ in western countries and nowadays it’s a very famous practice there. In Anapana you try to concentrate on your ‘natural’ breathing. You are advised here not to modify your natural way of breathing while practising it.
I found it very helpful in following three things —
· Sharpen my mind
· Learn to live in this moment
· Keeping your mind thoughtless
Vipassana (rest 7 days): Recently, I read a very good book about mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn (thanks to JP Sir). Since, practising mindfulness is getting very famous in western societies I have heard a lot about it recently. But I must say what I experienced in this 10 days session is beyond just mindfulness. Vipassana deals with very depth of our mind.
While practising it I experienced how my mind and body is so deeply attached to each other and how do they function together. How my mind has become the master of this amazing machine and how it controls and reacts to each little activity in each little part of it. I also experienced the auto pilot mode of my mind and how it ruminates between past and future. How it relates and creates an explosion of thoughts from a minor incident and then how it constantly worries about its own created thoughts or mind events. I also have experienced how our body reacts with a sensation to each and every thing happening around us or in our mind and how our mind develop craving or aversion for such every little sensation which results in sufferings. Above all I also experienced the law of impermanence.
I also experienced how to see things objectively and how to see your thoughts as a mind events and how sometimes just observing your thoughts objectively can solve the problem itself. Here it is very important to mention that many of these things I tried to explain here were known to me intellectually for a long time. But trust me, experiencing them and feeling it all happening inside me was totally a different world thing.
How does it relate to my stammer?
As per the definition of stammering, “Stammering is what you do when you try not to stammer.”
This explains almost everything about my stammer. For me stammering has always been a struggle with myself. A struggle before speaking the word (whether I’ll be able to speak it!). A struggle while I am in a block. A struggle after I stammered where I didn’t want to.
I knew it for so long if I could learn to be just in the moment 100% and stop worrying for future and stop relating it to the past, my struggle with my stammer would have stopped. Intellectually it always sounds so easy but it is very-very difficult to be in the moment completely.
This is what Vipassana teaches you to be in the moment without being judgemental. Stammer too has become an inseparable part of our mind and body. When we try to speak it’s not just our speech but our whole body and mind caught in the act stammering. While practising Vipassana you learn to observe each little sensation in your body without being judgemental to it. Sensations create thoughts, thoughts create worries and worries create struggle and sometimes just watching the sensations without judging them can be the solution. Our body creates many visible and non-visible sensations while we stammer and if we could be aware of these sensations it can be a way out for our struggles with stammer. Stammering also creates very strong aversions with our past experiences. Vipassana also helps us in getting rid of it.
I tried my best to explain my experiences but still I know it very clearly, what I have experienced there is literally impossible for me to convert it into the words. If you want to know what I am talking about, you have to go there and experience it yourself.