Did you ever hear of Vipassana? I had heard it a couple of times and it kept coming back. Every couple of months somebody told me he had followed a course. Or I read an article, or I heard it somewhere…
It is a meditation technique that gave enlightenment to a very famous man: Gautema the Bhudda. I love meditation, although I am not very disciplined. I should be because it realises a lot of rest and peace, a calm mind but also .. a razorsharp mind.
So I decided to spend 10 days to follow a course in Vipassana and choose the dhamma pajjota in Belgium, Europe. What I like about this philosophy (as I also like from the yogi) is the concept: first you set your mind on not hurting yourself, nor anyone else. So you don’t steal, you won’t lie, you don’t ..etc. The second step is that you learn to meditate because that gives you piece but also a very strong mind. The concentration is enormous. Imagine I have been sitting in lotus on a pillow for three days thinking about my respiration…! Of course your mind dwells of.. but you keep coming back to the respiration and sometimes it gave me a kind of trance. Amazing after three days.
The third step is the mind and body control: did you see the movie ‘What the bleep do we know’. You should! Then you understand that every impression you have, every sensation and every painful event is not only a memory but also attached on a cellular level. Amazing! That is where strain starts, nerves tighten, a headache appears… I do believe a lot of diseases have a psychological cause. No, not all… I know! But stress and anger and frustration is a real enemy of the body.
So what they teach you is to experience sensations in the body by scanning your body for hours and hours in this meditation (it a wonderful way of keeping your concentration!). Then you have to remain calm and keep your equanimity whenever you feel any sensation in the body, whether it’s nice (I got all kind of electrical streams that really felt nice) or terrible: like your aching body when you sit in lotus the majority of the day…
What does it bring? When do you get agitated? The moment somebody says or does anything that is not according to your standards. ‘Her hair is awful, oh I hate that man that talks all the time, ah look at that girl with the shorts.. her legs are so skinny, why doesn’t she wear trousers? Stop that sound you make in the street, I want silence..’ and so on and so on.. We are judging all the time.
One of the days, the order was to do everything with full consciousness. So, when you have your diner, you do not watch tv (as if there would be any in the Vipassana world..) you don’t talk (Vipassana is given in silence which I found wonderful), you don’t read… you just eat and enjoy your food. So I was watching this tiny girl, about 30 years of age. She sat shrunk, her head a bit down, shoulders hanging looking at ‘her plate. And then she very, very slowly moved her fork to her mouth… but so slowly that I normally would have been agitated. Act normal! I would never hire somebody that looked so insecure and acts so slow! But in the whole setting of Vipassana I was not agitated at all. I realized that her movements were different and I was ready to investigate what was happening. So I started to observe her and found out that she only chewed 5 times and then took the next bite. So I counted my own chewing: 13 – 15 times! Then I started to count her bites and my bites and found out that she ate twice as fast as I did!! Isn’t that amazing??
So what I want to say is that we have our own truth, we see what we want to see and if we think somebody does not act according our standards, we get agitated. Then we don’t look any further: we know the truth and we are (of course) right. But what we do is missing the truth… How wonderful.
But back to the practice… equanimity leads to a peaceful mind. A mind that is sharp and wants to see the truth.. So, what we were taught is to stay calm whatever sensation run through our body. And believe me.. you have pain when you sit in lotus for a while… But this helps to stay calm in the outside world as well, having all kind of sensations and experiences.
Another ‘torture’ was the ‘aditthana’. On the fifth day, the teacher said ‘you will now sit absolutely motionless three times a day during one hour.. If Vipassana wouldn’t be in silence, there would have been a lot of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’, yelling and screaming… You can’t believe you are ever able to sit still for one hour! So what happens is a huge fight between your mind and your body! You body says ‘move!’ but your mind says ‘sit still’. You do you think will win? I fought and fought and… I did it! And I felt euphoric.. your mind is so strong! It is amazing what happens.
I feel strong, calm and open after these ten days. I will try to keep meditation a part of my life. It is so important to have rest and peace in a busy world.. that’s one of my biggest dreams: to be an open and empathetic person, with a sharp mind. No prejudices, no judgments…but an open mind for reality. And wisdom. It will some more courses I’m afraid..:-) But I am on my way..