A friend texted yesterday, said she needs a trigger for her life to change for the better/get her life in order..in all aspects. It was interesting for me that I had left a 10-day Vipassana Meditation course in the last week, and my first thought was to recommend it for her.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of india’s most ancient techniques of meditation. it was rediscovered by gotama buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an art of living. this non-sectarian (your religion doesn’t matter you can still attend) technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation.
It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. it is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.
My experience was extremely eye opening, 10 days of intense meditation, 9 of which I had no access to the outside world (no phone and no distractions), and had to overhaul a lot of my worldly practices. Waking up at 4 a.m, sleeping at 9 p.m, a vegetarian diet, no contact or communication with my fellow attendees were routines I wasn’t used to, and taught me a great deal about my mental strength.
One instance stood out to me starkly. It was 4:02 a.m, (I was allowed to keep my wristwatch), and walking to the meditation hall, there was a beautiful full moon out 😍🌝. It was so large, so beautiful, one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life. I felt like it was within touch, like I could stretch out and feel it. I reached into my pocket, to fish out my phone and freeze this moment in time, to stare at this nature’s wonder for years to come, but I didn’t have my phone! I was a little angry for a moment, questioned why I handed it over, but then I quickly realized that if I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be up at 4 a.m, marveling at a sight that words can’t give justice.
Away from the routine, and friends you’ll make, (you’re allowed to end noble silence a day to the end of the course and can make conversations 😊😄) one of the many good things you’ll take away is ‘Anitya/Anicha’, or Impermanence, that all emotions/feelings/sensations are fleeting. That even good things come to an end, and being addicted to them, or hating unpleasant sensations, is only bad for your existence. The practice goes further than just telling you, it practical steps to handle both good and bad sensations, through mastering your mind through various stages of meditation.
There is a gradual progression 📈, from acknowledging your breathing, to feeling sensations on your body, to sensations inside your body, to those on your spine. You are guided step-by-step, with hours a day allocated for you to ask your teacher on any questions or challenges you might have with the technique.
The course requires hard, serious work. there are three steps to the training. the first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing 🗡🔫, stealing 🤕, sexual activity 🍆🔥🍑, speaking falsely 😏, and intoxicants 🍸🍷🍾💊💉. this simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.
The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one’s attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them.
Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.
the entire practice is actually a mental training. just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.
It is not a quick-fix, neither is it a free rehabilitation centre, (there are no charges, 💰 only donations from students who have benefitted from the technique and wish to enable others to benefit from it as well 😊) for any affliction one might be facing.
It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith, (people from all religious, racial and social backgrounds can practice it ⛪🕋🕌🕍), it is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment, it is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing, it is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life 🏃💃.
It is a technique that will eradicate suffering, it is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way, it is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.
I would 100% recommend it to everyone that has not yet gone through the course and is willing to attend it. It will teach you humility, the importance of giving back, the need to do what is right and to stay away from sin and how one can individually contribute to a better and happier society.
I have gotten the italicised excerpts from https://www.ke.dhamma.org/sw/ the Vipassana Kenya website, from where you can visit and learn more about the practice and the dates for upcoming courses.
May all beings be happy (including my friend who badly needs renewed purpose and will hopefully look into this course) ❤❤