We do claim to know many things, in fact everything, in our life. Though, we know a lot many things we do not realize them. For example, you can hear an advice on ‘how to invest in stocks’ form the one who never invested a penny in stock market. Our most problems starts when we convince ourselves that we know but in reality we don’t know, we never realize. One such thing is meditation. There comes a time in everybody’s life when we want to move forward from knowing and understanding to experiencing and realizing. ‘Focused-mind can solve your problems of life and you can focus your mind through meditation’, I learned from many masters in their fields. Motivated by some you-tube guided meditation techniques, I decided to learn this art from Vipassana Meditation Center, which is also called ‘Dhamma Khetta’. Best things in this world are free or at very less cost. You can register online and ten days stay is absolutely free including food.
On the way to the center, I asked an old uncle the way to Dhamma Center, he guided by giving directions and said ‘You are going to a great place and All The Best’. Great place I am going, I knew that but why he said ‘All the Best’. Did not bother. Reached the place, after registration, all are supposed to be interviewed by the teacher. He asked me some simple questions like what I do, medical history and all. ‘Do you have the will power to stay here for ten days’ he continued asking. ‘Of course’, I said. ‘I came here after taking ten days leave from my company; I dedicated these days to meditate to live a peaceful life’, I thought. ‘All the best’, said the teacher and I move to my 8 feet by 10 feet room which I had to share with one person.
It was as your life was moving like high-speed train suddenly stopped at rest. There were certain rules we had to follow. You are not allowed to bring you phones, tabs, laptops, reading or writing material with you in the room. You have to stay inside the boundaries where it is written ‘practitioners are not allowed to move out of this boundary’. You cannot speak with anyone, only on a rare occasion you can speak with the supporting staff, called ‘Sevaks’. No hand shakings, no greetings and you cannot look into anybody’s eyes. They do all this to maintain ‘Arya Maun’, which means ‘complete silence’; outside and inside environment.
They serve breakfast at 6:30AM, lunch at 11:30AM and guess what would be the timings for the dinner. There will be no dinner. Only evening tea with pop-corns will be served at 5:00PM.
Sudden restrictions on the way I was living created a feeling of anxiety. The statement ‘All the best’ flashed in my mind. This was the first realization. On the name of freedom we become too dependent on the amenities of life. The way we discuss peace and meditation in cozy environment is very different from the reality.
All Is In The Mind
Doors are closed now, I can’t go outside, can’t share anything with anyone, can’t read or write. It was first day and my mind was clouded with all the negative thoughts. ‘What will happen if I fell ill, will they provide medicine, how can I live without dinner, food is the basic necessity, they should provide dinner, how will my family members contact with me if they have any problem, Oh my god! my interview call is scheduled next week and I did not intimate them…’.
Suddenly we were called for evening tea. I walked fast to be first in the queue to get my share. As it was first day they decided to provide Upma which made me very happy. I ate double the quantity I normally eat as there would not be any dinner. Many times our body compensates for the stupid and anxious thought of our mind, so did my body. I had stomach upset that whole night.
We got the schedule for the following days where we need to meditate for ten hours per day for next nine days without fail. I need to get up 4 o’clock in the morning, meditate in different stretches whole day until 9 o’clock in the night.
With stomach upset and anxious feeling, I thought if I did mistake coming here? I could bear many things but ‘no-dinner’ was highly un-nerving thought which I never practiced earlier. I had no option but to go with this.
On day 2, there was only tea and pop-corn in the evening but I did not eat much taking experience from the previous day. That night was relaxing. On day 3, eating food in small quantity was normal to me. I had no anxiety of not getting anything to eat at night. That was second realization, ‘Everything is in the mind’. The same ‘me’ two days back was feeling all the troubles of the world and the same ‘me’ in same conditions is calm now. Not sure what worked on me but I felt, when all doors of alternatives are closed and you have only one option, your mind will get convinced; you become peaceful.
Adhishtana – The Practice to Increase Will-Power
All are required to meditate for 10-hours per day but my favourite practice session was ‘Adhisthana’ , the practice to increase will power. You need to sit in a position, without any movement, for an-hour. Though you can sit for some-time without movement but when you are told that you have to sit still, your mind starts to struggle against your will. Even 15-minutes of a sitting becomes difficult. Our mind does not want to be controlled; it revolts when you ask him to work as per your will. Enormous back pain, stopped blood circulation, itching everywhere in body, headache etc. are some of the symptoms of inner revolt. That was most difficult exercise throughout the course.
But you have no option, your teacher is observing, you have to sit. All mental revolts come to an end when we persist with single objective of the mind. There I realized the importance of teacher. If you have somebody to teach and observe your activities you can master anything.
Everyone was able to perform this activity by the end of course. It would not have been possible if there was no teacher to observe. Forced-discipline is required for sufficient time before the mind is ready to be ‘self-disciplined’.
My Pajamas was missing
A funny and very insightful incidence happened on the fifth day. If you are not washing your clothes by yourself you can give it to washer man who returns them on the following day. But that morning I could not find my pajamas at the place where we are supposed to get our clothes. There was no one to ask. I searched it everywhere but could not find. I was angry. ‘How can they do this, this is irresponsibility from their part, they should have told to bring one extra pair… blah..blah..blah..’. My mind was constructing thoughts at the highest speed possible. All inner-silence is gone now. The most urgent task for my mind was to get my pajamas and find someone who I can make responsible for this missing.
After an hour of effort, I moved a step back and asked myself ‘has this been so important that took all my peace’. Many times we give all our mental energy to the least important thing in our life. The more you try to forget the more it comes back. That is the favourite play of mind, ‘brooding the disturbing thought’. And the solution is ‘to observe’. The thought ‘my pajamas is missing’ kept coming whole that day but I started observing rather that reacting. I kept asking myself ‘Pajamas or Peace’. The thought became feeble at night. It was a day of great learning and realization. How deeply we are attached with petty thing in our life and we are ready to give all our energy to get them.
The Last Day
We were allowed to speak on the tenth day. There were people from all walks of life; students, bureaucrats, professionals, executives, entrepreneurs etc. Also, I found there were a few people who quit during the course, not sure why. I cannot explain their teachings and philosophy but I can say that I learned some hard lessons which would not have been possible in normal course of life.