It all started that one sleepless night in June when I seemed to have all the time in the world to explore the uncharted territories in my head; ontology, spirituality and ultimately:
But what about the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul that people call spirituality and relate to this ‘god’? What is my path to spirituality? How do I practice it?
A quick Google search for ‘how to practice spirituality‘ intimidated me with a plethora of results. It also led me to believe that I should take refuge in meditation to gain some ‘wisdom’ in this field. A person like me who considers meditation ‘boring’ and ‘uncool’ immediately dismissed the idea.
While this meditation notion was still fresh in my mind, I heard from a reliable source about a course that teaches one of India’s most ancient and effective techniques of meditation called ‘Vipassana‘.(What! Meditation again?) So I researched a little more about this: Vipassana is a method of personal transformation through self-observation. It is a technique of meditation that enables you to observe the reality of mind and matter at an experiential level.
The course however entails an intense 10 days of stay at one of the centers – with absolutely no contact with the outside world, no communication among the meditators either by talking or gesturing and continuous meditation 12 hours everyday to learn as well as master the technique of Vipassana.
It seemed to me like an interesting concept and a challenging task. I thought meditation would probably be one way to explore this spirit and soul business. I read more about the course and realized that it wasn’t associated with any of these religious cults of self-proclaimed great and learned ‘babas’, ‘gurus’ and ‘maas’ of the world. So I signed up for it.
As one of my friends exclaimed- ‘Dude! That sounds like Big Boss but with no talking!’ Indeed! I don’t watch the show but from a few glimpses, I definitely feel like it could take cues from this technique and be less of a madhouse. And if they ever do have a Big Boss for non-celebs, they should maybe consider me 😛
So why would I isolate myself from the world for 10 days and torture myself?
Well, simply – for the unique experience. The silence part is not a big deal for a person like me who’s not too fond of humans. Having debated several times on the topic of spirituality, I thought I should finally explore this subjective grey area myself.
And if you think ‘not talking for 10 days’ was the tough part, LOL. Not even close!
The real challenge was to learn and master the meditation technique of Vipassana.
What have I learnt?
From my humbling 12 hours * 10 days = 120 hours – 2 hours (accumulated time of accidentally falling asleep while meditating) = 118 hours, here is what I learnt from the course:
1. Being open-minded
Being a generally skeptical person, I was a little doubtful about this technique and it’s ways at first. And having even the slightest doubt never helps when you’re trying to learn something new. So I decided to give it a fair chance and form a judgement only at the end of the course. That really helped my mind to follow instructions and meditate sincerely. Which in turn helped me learn this technique.
2. Living in the moment
Vipassana iterates being aware and mentally active while meditating. This is challenging when you have a mind which runs at least 7 different imaginary conversations simultaneously at a given point. This is besides your thoughts convincing your mind that you’d rather be sleeping than meditating day and night.
The art is to control your mind. (Yes, this can be done and is very useful!) This technique teaches you to see things as they are, to be alert, attentive and mindful of matter around you or as Ross would say:
3. Disciplining the mind and body
This technique has instilled a newfound discipline in me which I plan to follow until .. let’s see! Sleeping and waking up early, not skipping meals, meditating regularly and so on..
Unconditional apologies to all my roommates till date who have tolerated my forever snoozing alarm without disowning me. (My alarm usually runs for over an hour every morning)
4. Healing pain
Of course I’m not talking about severe pain in body joints. But the mild pain that is not drastic enough to go to the doctor but does exist, can be cured by this technique.
I constantly have back pain (I’m assuming it’s because of stress or my bad sitting posture) and this meditation technique does heal it. Nay, this is no miracle. Just the power of the mind.
5. Remembering the ‘Law of Impermanence’
This is hardly an insight. We know nothing lasts forever. But we do need to realize this at all times – good and bad. Vipassana makes you realize this at every instant. The trick is to have a balanced and equanimous mind.
So next time I seem to have lost my favorite yellow slippers, I must not question my house-help (they have the ability to be dangerously impermanent) but I must accept the fact and move on in life. And maybe get myself a new pair of yellow slippers.
I decided to give this technique a chance wholeheartedly and I’m glad I did. Needless to say, it was an experience of a lifetime! Spirituality I gathered is a very personal human experience. The Vipassana technique merely provides an apt environment for you to figure it out yourself and that makes it a great learning experience 🙂
I might need some time adjusting to the real world now!
PS: To all my friends who have decided to suffix a ‘mata’, ‘devi’ or ‘ji’ to my name, the Vipassana institution of thought unfortunately has no such hierarchy. As a result, I would have to be addressed by my original name once again *SHRUGS*