Yesterday’s edition of The Eye (Sunday supplement of the Indian Express) had a story by Dipanita Nath on why youngsters in India are turning to the study of Vipassana. This reminded me of my own experience with this ancient meditation technique and how, even though I don’t practice it anymore on a regular basis, it has helped me tremendously.
I recommend a 10-day beginners course for anybody with 10 days to spare. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Don’t be afraid of the timetables or the frugal menu. Don’t be afraid of staying away from family, friends, facebook and yes, your phone.
As the article suggests, the first few days are the most difficult. You long to run away. I prayed that someone would call the Centre’s office saying that a member of my family was ill and I should come home immediately. Of course (thankfully), no one did. I was stuck there. And thank goodness for that.
Those first five days were horrible. I was alone, even with 600 other people around me. I was hungry a lot and the 4am wake up calls didn’t help. I cried a lot, too.
But on the fifth evening, I felt a palpable shift. I knew a corner had been turned and I was delighted to have experienced that huge sense of relief that I can still re-live. It was so amazing – I would even go so far as to call it a divine intervention.
The 10 days at Igatpuri touched me to such an extent that when I returned to work, people immediately noticed a difference. That led to several other people requesting leave to attend a course for themselves (my erstwhile employer, a PSU, allows 10 days paid leave for this course – amazing, isn’t it?)
I don’t know if that change lasted forever – Vipassana takes years of hard work to have a lasting effect – but I use bits of that teaching whenever I feel stressed or need to step back and take stock. I used those meditation techniques in the Mumbai locals, retreating from the cacophony of the Ladies Compartment. I even wrote about my experience for several publications and this has been one of my best selling articles to date.
Ten days of silence. Try it. It’s delicious.