10 days later. Silence has ended and I’m back on the planet. During the whole process I literally felt to have left. There are too many words I’d love to share about the time I spent in the Indian bush where I didn’t speak to a soul, yet still was in the company of approximately 30 individuals. This blog isn’t big enough... So just one short word to describe the experience: it was DEEP. And now I find it difficult to determine how deep I should go, when sharing my experience. Maybe it’s best to just go with the flow, and see whatever comes out…
The course started on the 17th and ended on the 28th. The location was nothing to write home about. Or maybe for that simple fact, it actually IS something to write home about: a few old buildings in the middle of nowhere with very little cleanliness and whole lot of bush. The centre wasn’t near a village, it was secluded and the only sounds we heard, was nature. There wasn’t a peep coming from human life form, not from the outside world or from our own personal inside worlds.
On the first day, we were allowed to talk, up until the first meditation sitting at 8pm. Before silence, we were allowed to mingle. I met some great girls; 12 in total, 7 western and 5 Indian. The rest were men. Once the silence started, partitions were put in place. The men had their own dorm building, their own walk way, their own half of camp, half of dining hall and half of meditation hall, and we had ours.
Then the rules were given: we were to hand over all our valuables, laptops, phones, music devices… and anything else that could have been a distraction. We had to take a vow to finish the course, no matter how hard it would get. As well, we were instructed to not only avoid talking, but to avoid eye contact, physical contact and any kind of body language amongst the students. If we had any problems we had a server to help us. For the 12 females, it was Anna (the girl I’d come to the course with). She volunteered throughout the 10 days, and looked after us on site… a ‘mother’ on hand! What a brilliant job she did. The rules didn’t freak me out too much and I didn’t feel imprisoned or isolated. BUT I realized I had to call upon some serious positive thinking to get myself through the week, without cracking.
The first full day of meditation started on the 18th. We were woken up at 4.00am and in the meditation hall by 04.30, sitting like Buddha’s for 2 hours straight. “Ouch”, was all I would’ve said, had I been permitted to speak. But I wasn’t… So instead, after that first meditation sitting, I raised the bar of positive inner coaching a peg or 2 and practised acceptance of the situation I’d willingly placed myself in: sitting cross-legged on the floor in a meditation hall, with 30 other students, who were all willing to learn meditation by ONLY focusing on the breath, from 4.30 in the morning until 9.00pm at night (with necessary breaks of course), for the 10 days straight.
And, what can I say? Well, maintaining silence? I LOVED IT! Sitting on the floor? Agony and effortless all at once. Did I feel to go mental, for being in my own head and not having any form of escapism or distraction from my inside world? I thought the possibility was there, but I never let it happen. Everyday was amazing. I was doing so little, but doing SO MUCH all at once. The meditation technique (the Vipassana technique) was so deep, so complex, so real, so honest, so scientific, so non-religious, and incredibly revealing.
The first 3 days were a warm-up to the real practice of the meditation and after that we were properly developing skills to become more aware of our own physical body and what it tells us about how we live our lives. Everyday was not only amazing, but intense, exhausting, emotional, hard, liberating and grounding. I never once wanted to leave, I never once felt trapped. I never once wanted to talk or communicate. Except for 2 occasions. The first one was when I was greeted by the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life (so closely). It had 2 big bright beady eyes that were staring at me, in the toilet. Man oh man! Facing my biggest fear… so of course I desperately wanted to scream… and I did… INSIDE! The second occasion was when I caught the nun red-handed; she was sneaking out of the dorm at night, to nibble on forbidden biscuits! Then I desperately wanted to laugh and spread some gossip…!!!! But, I smiled INSIDE and kept a stern and serious facial expression…