Vipassana 2012: Insights and Reflections (Part 1: The Chronicle)

Never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may. — Tyler Durden

This post is only almost 1000 words long. Choose your favorite beverage (a lot of it) and settle down as I take you through my journey to the world of vipassana. Credits and introduction will be given at the end of the post. Actually, the post title is misleading. This is more of a chronicle than insights and reflections. I guess the lessons will come in the next post.

Day 0: December 19 2012

Tony and I got to Hope and we stopped for lunch. The entire time to Hope and while lunching, we debated about going to Merritt. It was snowing hard outside and I’ve never driven through the Coquihalla in the winter. The conversation mostly revolved around me telling Tony “I don’t want to you put into any kind of danger” and Tony replied back sarcastically “Don’t worry, if I die I’ll visit you at the meditation centre.” As we got up to pay for the meals, I looked outside at the pouring snow piling on the road and our van and concluded firmly “nope, I’m calling this off.” I sensed a tiny bit of reluctant relief from Tony.

We got into a car and Tony answered a phone call on his cell. I sat in silence staring at the space in front of me. I thought about Tony and his safety driving back alone from the centre. If anything were to happened to him, I’d feel horrible for the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t know about it until after I’ve finished the 10-day course. He’d be long gone by then. So it’s right not to go. I can reschedule this in the summer when it’s sunny. It’ll be easy driving to Merritt then I can even do it myself.

Then I felt this regret growing in me. If I don’t go this time, I won’t ever do it. This is possibly the only chance I got. And I need this. I need to figure this out. I need to know what to do next with my life. I’ve just quit my job. Not long before that, I broke up the relationship that lasted for almost 3 years and moved out of the apartment I’ve lived for the past 4 years. I’ve given up everything (or so I thought at that point.) So I am free to do whatever now. Vipassana was going to be the place that I define what “whatever” is. It’ll be perfect timing: meditate through the Christmas season (December 19 – 30), I’ll be fresh and enlightened to embark on the new adventures awaiting in the new life I’ll be leading. With this thought, I told Tony as he hang up the phone: “Tony, let’s go. I gotta do this.” He complied without saying a word.

Day 1: December 20, 2012

The noble silence started since 8 pm last night. The hall, the kitchen, the rooms, and the meditation hall all filled with silence. How can silence be filling hey? Yeah, it’s deafening. It’s definitely there. Silence isn’t simply the complete absence of sound, as the dictionary and the scientists have it. Nowhere on earth (or space) is there a place where we can find the complete absence of sound. Well, maybe except this place. Even there, with complete removal from the outside noise, you will be acutely aware of your own body’s noise. That and not to mention your own mental chatter. Silence is an illusion until your ears and your mind are sharp enough to hear the never-ending sounds reside within you. But this is way to early for this understanding. Let me back up a little.

I woke up at 4:30 on day 1. Waking up early has never been a problem for me, especially if it’s an important day to wake up to. Staying up and alert is usually the troublesome part. But day 1 was easy. Sitting in the meditation hall with 50 other people, nothing but breathing sound and the occasional scratching noises, somehow is enjoyable in a weird way.  I found myself enjoying the apparent silence. It’s easy just to let myself drown in thoughts. Exactly what I needed, even though that’s not what I am supposed to do. I am supposed to focus on my in-breaths and out-breaths around my nose and my philtrum*, and nothing else, especially thinking. I’m supposed to just focus on breathing for an hour straight. Not easy, if you’ve ever tried for even 5 minutes. The first day was relatively easy because I had no trouble killing time by thinking. 10 – 12 hours of meditation a day went by pretty quickly when you only spent 1 or 2 hours meditating and the rest thinking. Yet, thinking is exactly what you need to NOT do if you want to meditate…

Also, imagine the first time you have to listen to a chanting and it’s in ancient Indian (pali). And for some unknown reasons, the chanter ends every sentence of the chanting with a disgust-able sound in his throat like he’s burping very lowly but uncontrollably. My very first thought (and I’m sure of a lot of the other people in the room) was “what the hell is this noise he’s making?”

But other than that, the first day was comparably easy.

Day 2: December 21, 2012

Day 2 was supposed to be a lot harder and a lot of people quit on day 2 (and day 6, apparently.) But it was also surprisingly easy for me to get through.

Day 3: December 22, 2012

Day 4: December 23, 2012

Day 5: December 24, 2012

Day 6: December 25, 2012

Day 7: December 26, 2012

Day 8: December 27, 2012

Day 9: December 28, 2012

Day 10: December 29, 2012

Day 11: December 30, 2012

Introductions and Credits

 

Vipassana on Ben’s blog

The anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis: I would do anything to have a 10-day retreat here.

(yep, that’s a word referring to the area below your nose and above the upper lip.)

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