Not really... but thats where I was last 10 days!! happily so.. and happier to have learnt something great and be back. As cutlet mentioned, this post is about the choice i had made...
Every second person talks of meditation today and its being practised in different ways ever so long. Many like me, also claim to have meditated by sitting on the ground with folded legs for trying to concentrate or say keep our mind at one place which could not be continued for any longer than 5 or 10 mins.... As a kid I also had various objects for meditation like a candle flame or a white paper sheet with a black dot put on the wall etc.. Here was an opportunity to take a course and understanding it from an established org. And I just got back from there, Vipassana - a 10 day residential meditation camp in a farmhouse near Dubai (in Ajman) away from the hustle bustle of noisy life, which provided an conducive environment for the serious hard work that was involved.
Meditation and hard work? yes while learning, it is.. and I mean that.
Getting up at 4am and sleeping before 9:30pm, no outside food- meals available at fixed timings like 6:30am, 12:30pm and the snacking up at 5:30pm being the last. No communication with the outside world or with the students there, not even a smile or eye contact and no reading or writing either. Getting instructions verbally through the teacher or thru audio/video tapes on how to work. Meditating the whole day with 5 min breaks after every one hour to get up and 2 one hour breaks in the morning and afternoon for anything else you want to do like bathing, cleaing, resting, walking-stretching, thinking and wondering :).
I am sure it sounds tough enough.. What kept us up and going were the video discoruses given by the teacher every evening. It was kind of Shilpa channel of Indian reality tv show big boss. You know what I mean? Just that there were no live cameras but we were watching ourselves even more closely but we were not doing cooking and we had those stringent code of conduct to adhere to.
Having done all of that and still feeling so refreshing and satisfied makes me happy I did this. The entire practise is actually a mental training and the technique is unfolded step by step per day to the students so that there is a complete understanding of the theory and practical at the experiential level and no doubts remain about what, why and how.
Just as we do physical exercise to improve our bodily health, Vipassana helps to develop a healthy mind. There is a lot of self observation in the literal sense. Working within the mind body framework, even though sounds technical is so simple. By focussing on the deep connection between mind(conscious and sub-c) and body, one understands how clearly our miseries arise from simple craving and aversions in life. Then most importantly one learns a solution to that which lies in one self. It indeed is all in the mind...
I think everyone must do some form of exercise for the mind. It might not be easy for most to make up the mind and go for this course as cutting off urself from everything else for 10 days sounds too much but I am certainly feeling the urge to recommend it to everyone. On one of the days, my mind was wandering while I tried to focus it on the task at hand, it was going like - I must tell my parents about trying it too, this friend should do it and that one as well... However much I say or write, it cannot be same as the experience of it by self and once you have experienced it in these 10 days, it sounds completly believable, practically applicable. If someone believes in liberation and life after life, it even talks about it in the simplest of ways.
Gautama Buddha practised and taught this technique and if I were to summarise it using the pali terms:
Sila or sheel (5 precepts of NO "stealing, killing, lying, intoxication and sexual misconduct"), Samadhi( 'Sama' = equanimity and 'dhi' denotes intelligence) and Panya(Wisdom). These are the three pillars of this technique & by this Panya it is possible to eradicate the ingrained habit pattern of mind which generates, multiplies and accumulates the miseries i.e reactions of raga(greed) and dosa(hatred) out of moha(ignorance).
I missed google when i was there and wanted to look for more on what we were doing. I did that once i got back home and found this post where a blogger sums his experience as "Agony Bliss Agony Bliss" Read here for his account of a day and I will also write more on my experienes in the next posts.. These 10 days undoubtedly are among the best days of my life :)
For now I will close it with some more links. here are centres across the world. One can browse through their official site here.
How can I not Thank this blogger who put the link in her blog and thats how I got to know of it. If you know her, let me tell you knowing dhamma-the teaching of this technique is definitely a major reason for the good vibes you get reading her stories on the blog... I also want to link it to her words on the experience here. I always wanted to do a silent retreat kind of thing so it just took me a second to decide on attending this myself once i was reading her archives last month.
I plan to include a lil bit of meditation in my routine now, but yday when I sat at home thinking of not moving for an hour putting my cell on silent, the doorbell rang!! And I realized it sure was easier there.. Maybe i should try at a differnent time..
In the meantime, may all be happy!!
(a regular practise of this course which coincidently has always been a part of my prayers to god as well.. )
Note - Thanks Solilo for noticing n pointing out - i just corrected