Vipassana- My experience.

The first
thing which struck my senses as I entered the Lucknow Vipassana Center, or
‘Dhamma Lakkhana’, was the serenity of the atmosphere which enveloped the
entire campus. Far from the hustle bustle of the main city and the crowded
suburbs, this was an oasis of peace where I had come to take refuge for the
next ten days. I had come with a thousand questions and a million apprehensions
but the peace and positivity wiped away my anxieties and put me into a relaxed
state. It was still early so I decided to mingle with other participants who
had arrived so far. There were people from Chandigarh, Faizabad, Russia,
Netherland, UK, and of course, Lucknow. Everyone was excited and slightly
doubtful about their capacity to follow the rigorous schedule for the next 10
days. The most common fear was “Bhai, do you know they don’t serve dinner?”

I smiled like
a Buddha on the naiveté of these lesser mortals. The peace had already
tranquilized me and I was not worried about the food. In fact, I was looking
forward for 10 days of disciplined diet and losing a couple of kgs in the
process. Later in the evening, we deposited our valuables and commenced the
noble silence. The journey had begun and there was no looking back.
Day1: I was
excited to get up at 4 o’clock and was one of the first to reach the meditation
hall.  It was a fantastic session and I
could concentrate on my breath because it was a novel experience. By the end of
the day, the novelty wore off and I started focusing more on my legs than on my
breathing. I had never sat cross-legged for more than 10 minutes and my legs
were beginning to scream the moment I plopped down on the cushion. The truth
hit me like sun rays piercing through a cloud of mysticism: the next 9 days are
not going to be easy.
Day 2&3:
The Pain!..My legs!… The Torture! There was a new found respect in my heart
for every person who could sit still in the cross-legged position for more than
20 minutes. The pain felt unbearable in the meditation hall but as soon as I
walked out the pain vanished. This was interesting. Was my mind playing games with
me, trying to distract me with the pain? Also, people frequently walked in and
out of the meditation hall during the meditation sessions, but not a single
person walked out during the evening discourses of Mr. Goenka. So, the pain and
discomfort was clearly psychological and not physical. As long as the mind is
occupied in something, it’s at peace. The moment you start disciplining it, it
gets restless.
Day 4-9: Day
4 was again exciting as a new technique, Vipassana, was taught. By this time, I
had realised how undisciplined my mind was. The seemingly easy task of scanning
the entire body was proving to be quite difficult. My mind was in a constant
hyper-active state, jumping from one thought to the other, teleporting from one
fantasy world to the next. It was easier to sit in the cross-legged position if
I kept my eyes closed and focused on my breathing, ignoring the people
shuffling around me. I was able to sit still for 40 minutes at a stretch, which
was quite an achievement for me.
Oh, and let
me tell you something about my neighbour. I sat next to a guy who was perennially
restless. He shuffled continuously, Moved in and out of the meditation hall
every 10 minutes, and broke almost every rule of the centre. The dude also broke
my noble silence by asking me about breakfast he missed. Man! Was he a test of
patience! Later I found out he was nicknamed ‘Jalpari’ by other students for
his restlessness. It would have been easier to concentrate if I was seated next
to a calmer person but I guess this was another test of my resilience.
observation: When the day begins, it feels like the torture is never going to
end. “Oh crap…another endless day of meditation” But I didn’t realise how
quickly the moments have slipped away and it was already the time for evening
snacks. The discomfort, the pain, the torture, the boredom- everything is
transitory, momentary, impermanent..anichya. Life’s like a necklace made up of
passing moments, sliding on a thread of impermanence. A moment can be boring,
exciting, blissful or torture, Life cannot be labelled like that. It’s an
amalgam of emotions, arising and passing away like respiration.
When you
start living in the moment, you stop labelling your moments. You can only feel
bored when you compare this moment with a moment of the past or some fantasy of
the future. You call yourself anxious because you compare the discomfort of the
present with the relaxed state of the past. Once you truly start living in the
moment, all you feel is nameless sensations. Sensations without labels-without
perceptions of good or bad. Mindfulness is the art of observing these
sensations with an understanding of their impermanent nature. “This too shall
pass” is one of the most permanent laws of the universe.
Day 10: …and
we were finally allowed to talk. Everyone bonded like childhood friends,
despite not knowing each other. I received a special treatment because I am a Muslim,
and apparently, very few Muslims attend the Vipassana course. Everyone was
interested in knowing about my experience and we had a discussion on the
commonalities and differences between various communities. I had an interesting
chat with the student from Norway, who knew only about Rajnikanth among Indian
movie stars.

If you are
reading this post and still on the tenterhooks whether to attend the course,
give it a go. Yes, it feels like torture at times but if you stay determined
you come back with a lot of insight about yourself (By the way, Vipassana is
Pali word for insight). Every person has a different experience so do share
what you learned during the 10 days. We will be waiting.

Post Author: Harish Usgaonker

5 thoughts on “Vipassana- My experience.


    (January 21, 2015 - 8:07 am)

    Thanks Tanveer!
    I think this was the best documentation..and sharing of deep insights..
    I m sure many more people will be encouraged..


    (January 21, 2015 - 10:12 am)

    Beautiful. Thanks.


    (January 21, 2015 - 2:27 pm)

    Very well explained Tanveer…thanks for sharing


    (January 22, 2015 - 5:23 am)

    Rightly said Mr. Khan "This too shall pass".

    Time is like a river, you cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. So Enjoy every moment in life.

    Moreover Buddha was not a Buddhist. Jesus was not a Christian. Mohammed was not a Muslim.

    They were Teachers.
    They taught only Love.
    Love was their religion.


    (February 1, 2015 - 12:08 pm)

    This too shall pass…I apply to it often when get puzzled in work and other situations ..I feel light and hopeful..impermanence is only truth…

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