(“Meditation blue jeans: Part I”, describes my path to the 10-day Vipassana silent meditation course. “Meditation blue jeans: Part II”, is about the experience of taking the course. Part III concludes below.)
The silence was peaceful. The mild hunger was cleansing. The free time under a tree was relaxing. Except when dragonflies would start to hover above me, I was convinced they thought I was a carcass.
Days 7, 8, and 9 flew by as we doubled down to wring the most out of this experience. Goenka exhorted us in the evening discourses to use the “deep mental surgery” to uproot insecurities and sow equanimity. By day 10 I was boiling eager to apply in the real world what I had learned over 112 hours of meditation. My coursemates were of a similar disposition: eye contact was unnecessary to feel the growing groundswell of excitement. After the morning session on day 10, we were invited to start speaking again. The day went quickly, the time inbetween sessions devoted to sharing our experiences with one another.
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye. Hugs abounded, photos taken, email addresses exchanged. For only a few days of words between us, everyone felt the closeness of a week and a half of shared silence. We rode a van to the airport with our teachers, who smiling endured being a captive audience for all lingering questions.
I felt asettingly peaceful at chaotic Jakarta airport. Airline clerks were more smiley, security guards less brusque, restaurant waiters more friendly. As I strolled to my gate, a man with a trailing wheeled carry-on pivoted after running closely by me and his bag rudely rolled over my flip-flopped toes. My first reactions were two-fold: “Oww!” and “What a jerk”. Then my training kicked in: the pain in my toes was gone at second glance, I became compassionate recognizing that I’ve been that airport-sprinting jerk many times, and just hoped that he made his flight.
This trivial realization and the cumulative small incidents that have since mortared my daily life continue to reinforce what I have learned, the lessons planted in my subconscious. My possessions are to be appreciated, but not attached to. My family and friends are to be cherished, but not stressed about. My professional aims are to remain aspiring, but not fearing failure.
I can’t say if I think you should try meditation (Vipassana or otherwise) because I don’t know; it is too personal for each of us. I feel like I have acquired a powerful tool if used and kept sharp regularly. Have recommended it to my family, as I know the specific benefits each of my loved ones could gain, and my Papa just completed his own course. To me there was little downside of exploration: best case is inner peace, worst case is 10 days of detox from one’s preferred poison. Most of us will end up somewhere inbetween. If you do ever give it a shot, let me know. I’d love to hear your story.
Bhavatu sabba mangalam,