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Friday, September 30, 2011

Vipassana 2

After the first half of the week, my facial muscles had weakened… for not having smiled for so long. My legs were wobbly, for not having walked or moved much. On the moments when I spoke with the teacher (who was always willing to answer any questions and help us when we needed), I found my voice to sound so different. It was like it wasn’t me who was speaking… It was a voice from somebody or some place else. Actually, it was as if I could hear my voice the way people outside can hear me (like when you hear your own voice being recorded). The strangest sound… Anyhow, the good physical developments were that my back was becoming stronger, my backside was forming callus (making it easier to sit on a hard floor) and my eyes were getting brighter. I became lighter and lighter in my heart, as I was disposing myself of any emotional garbage I’d been carrying around with me. At one stage I felt to be travelling and every time I’d walk into the meditation hall, it was like I was going to work; heading into my own self once again, to discover what needed to be attended to, what I needed to fix or to soothe. The teacher described this type of meditation as one of the deepest forms there is. It’s like open heart surgery, where we, ourselves, are the surgeons… and by setting to work, we would repair anything that had become damaged at some stage in our life, due to our way of dealing with external factors (without ‘advertising’, for more information look it up on dhamma.org …haha)

The days passed by, time became a strange concept, yet, as the end came closer, I felt each meditation session to become a little bit more precious; because it meant the time that was left to practise the technique, before stepping back into society, was running out. I felt I needed to develop the skills as much as I could, so I’d ‘easily’ apply them in my daily life.

The final day suddenly arrived. And when it came to speaking, smiling, making eye contact and mingling… I didn’t really feel any explosion or huge relief. I just felt so lucky to have had the experience. I felt so liberated for having realized that I can do something so intense, without crumbling in self-pity or misery. I took my time before opening myself up to others… half an hour to be exact… then I needed to come to life. But I didn’t know what I wanted my ‘first words’ to be… or who to speak them to. So I kept quiet until I bumped into Anna, and I screeched some quiet noises of joy and said, ‘I’m speechless! It’s so amazing” We hugged and that was that… The silence had been broken.

The final afternoon felt like graduation… There was such a strange feeling in the air. I still had to ease myself back into the ‘normality’ of communication. It was tricky. I really noticed that my brain hadn’t been used for anything else other than observation of breath. Having a conversation that didn’t sound scattered and dazed, was a little hard and thinking of practical life, like travel arrangements, money, work, internet, emails… was almost impossible. It was such a force and everything felt so fake, unnecessary and a massive hassle. But that was something I was, of course, forced to come to terms with very quickly, because we were due to leave the site, the morning after the silence had ended. I knew couldn’t start rejecting the Indian world (or any other part of it, for that matter). I had one brief moment of panic when I realized I had no choice; the ‘game of life’ was waiting to be played and I needed to partake. And when the panic subsided, I was excited.

On the last day, sharing experiences with the girls on the course, and becoming quite close in such a short space of time, was the best way to close the chapter. They were such lovely people. And for the fact that we’d all been through such a huge experience, through such a life-changing transformation almost, there was an instant connection. Apart from Anna, I felt particularly close to Alila from South-Africa and Claire from Australia. There were other great girls too of course who stood out for the peace and ease they practised during their own ‘open heart surgery’. But these 3 girls stood tall and strong in their own personal journey through vipassana and I was strangely proud of their determination.

Wednesday morning we took a rickshaw together, back to the nearest town. We hopped on a train, headed south to Trivandrum and still were very much in our own bubble of ‘positivity and wonderment’. We were talking and learning from each other up until the moment came for our individual paths to head in different directions. Except for me and Anna; we went back to the guest house where we’d been staying before we went on the course. I needed a day or 2 to ease myself into the land of the living and to arrange my next step.

At the moment, I’m still in the guesthouse. And tonight I’m heading to Chennai. Yes, I booked an overnight bus, leaving from Trivandrum at 8pm to arrive in Chennai at 11am tomorrow morning. I’m going to visit Jayanthi! I met her on the English teaching course last year and stayed with her and her family for a month in March during my first Indian chapter. And now it’s time to catch-up again. I can’t wait. Yesterday, when I was buying the ticket and I felt strangely light, independent and free. A great way to temporarily move on from Kerala. The end of October will see me back here again, but for now, it’s time to go and to see how the 10 days of silence effects me, in one of India's biggest cities... Yay (I think...)!


  1. That's cool Niamh thanks for sharing your recollection of your experience. I find it difficult to remember things I guess that comes with being present. Are you maintaining your practice? I am still having amazing realisations sometimes even though it's just an hour sitting each time. Enjoy Chennai, where is the next stop? x

  2. by the way, that from claire :) x