Friday, November 14, 2008

Vipassana a lesson in awareness

10 days away from what you thought was life..10 days of silence .Wake up at 4 am and meditate the whole day. The whole affair sounded very intimidating but I had this stronge urge to do it since last year.

Finally when I reached Igatpuri I felt relaxed .The place was so tranquil and idyllic. I fitted into the routine so well, it was amazing. I surprised myself.
The meditation itself was simple but back breaking. I have this chronic neck pain that aggravated with sitting for 10-12 hrs. There was nothing special about the technique of watching the breath too..but the results were out of this world.

Whatever suffering arises
has a reaction as its cause.
If all reactions cease to be
then there is no more suffering.

At first tingling sensations, hot and cold feelings, pain etc. Apparently they are Bio chemical reactions which keep happening in our bodies,but we arent aware of. Just sitting quietly and closing your eyes concentrating on the upper lip could make you aware of this. Then we replicated this observation throughout the body.

At first some emotional issues started surfacing which were either very fresh in my mind or had troubled me in the last one year. We were supposed to observe without judging these as good or bad. Tell ourselves it was all impermanent and "anicca". " This too will pass"...but my emotions would take over and tears just rolled..
Then the strangest thing started happening. My awareness shifted from the outer body to the insides without much effort on my part.. After this every organ started releasing images as if they all had memory...heart , brain, neck , stomach..

All sankharas are impermanent.
When you perceive this with true insight,
then you become detached from suffering;
this is the path of purification.

At first I got a few images i could not understand. Then many images started coming in rapid succession and I could not stop it even if I willed it. It was not like was scary like a nightmare, except that I was awake and fully aware.I saw faces mostly women...their eyes seemed to draw me to take a closer look. Each time i looked closer the faces changed and either started looking old and haggard or their expressions became painful, angry or fearful. I kept on seeing this and saying "this too will pass ", not knowing this was. The women i saw were mostly Indian all classes and types...rural, urban..I was also having this burning sensation in my body which would just consume me..

At last when it would not just stop after an hour or so..I opened my eyes..I was terrified now. I went to the teacher to tell her abt this. She just said those are your "samskaras" or conditionings from past lives. I believe in past lives so she did not need to convince me about it.The burning sensations were like hell fire i was experiencing in the here and now. I asked her how long will this take ? She said it all depends on the stock pile of karma you have accumulated the worst comes out first. Nature is benevolent apparently so its like a sieve where the biggest come out first. So that sounded like a consolation and gave me some courage to restart. Also brought me some peace that I was not the only one to experience this.

In the recorded instructions given by Goenkaji for the following day we were usually told about what to expect with the meditations and my experiences caught me my surprise as they were not talked about at all. Apparently I was experiencing everything a day in advance ..this the teacher told me was because I perhaps had already practised Vipassana in a past life..could not vouch for that..But the next day I saw a life as a Buddhist monk may be that was where I learnt Vipassana.

The next day when i was more comfortable with the images I adopted a new technique of asking questions to various parts of my body..
I got the answers in the form of past life images..a lot of it made sense. reasons for my inhibitions, my rejection of being feminine, my chronic neck fear of suffocation ( I can never cover my face while sleeping or pour water over my head while taking a bath ). I had an Egyptian life where i saw myself being bandaged like a mummy though I was alive (drugged probably). I was hanged in one life hence the neck pain.

All the repressed lives as a woman had made me reject the feminine processes...I was also an aborted foetus. I ve always wanted to fight for women and abuse victims. Now this has made it more my mission.

My inhibited attitude towards sex came from various lives as religious leaders I saw a buddhist monk, a Syrian Christian priest, a Jain sadhvi.
I asked and was getting answers...very was as if my logical left brain was right brain was activated.

With each passing day i was convinced my neck condition was more psycho than somatic. After sitting so long everyday I was relaxed and the pain had dissapeared by the day end. I kept telling myself I cannot jump to conclusions. If i feel the difference after I get back to my normal routine then this is effective.
The pain does come back every now and then but its much better and more controllable. Earlier it took over my life.

If the roots remained untouched and firm in the ground, a felled tree still puts forth new shoots.
If the underlying habit of craving and aversion is not
uprooted, suffering arises anew over and over again.

The entire world is ablaze,
The entire world is going up in smoke.
The entire world is burning
The entire world is vibrating

Towards the end I had a splitting headache which would not go much ever i told myself this would pass...It continued into the night and the next day I found it difficult to meditate. The ache was like a weight in the top of my head..
I kept telling myself to let go and observe..and to my amazement I watched it dissapear like a wave ..v slowly though..First the left part of my head started feeling light and then the right and soon it was all gone..just by observing and not getting carried away by the pain. It was replaced with a wonderful sensation. We were told not to get carried away by pleasant feelings and sensations just like we were to with pain and bad sensations. I could not help feeling so happy with this sensation.. I could feel my crown opening up and something oozing out from the left side of my head was not a liquid more like the vapours over ice.
The top of my head was no more solid and my left forehead was also all ephemeral.
Wow the feeling was just out of this world though it might just sound scary when you read it. I could not sustain this through the body. The cold sensation remained with me for the whole day.

On the 2nd last day I had this weird sensation in my ear the boney part around the hole, like someone were drilling pain but this horrible feeling like when you are at the dentist's and he's given you something to numb you, but you still get the sensations .I also saw glimpses of a screw or nail like thing in my ear. I could not see anything more..but strangely this sensation stayed with me off and on for a week after i returned. I have since lost it but haven't figured out what that was. I also want to mention here that I have had several bouts of recurring boils in my ears ..very painful I am sure you would know if you had it.When this drilling sensation started I kind of thought it was the onset of one of those...because it was as close a sensation to that..but without the when you get a pulsing sensation. Thank God there were no boils..but I am still to make sense of what that was.

On the 10th day breaking the silence felt abnormal..felt like that was my true nature. When I came away on the 11 th day it was reluctantly..I felt I was leaving home. Silence, peace, tranquility and being close to nature are our soul's true attributes. Everytime we get a taste of it we want to go back to where we belong,to our true nature. I was already telling myself I'll return very soon to Igatpuri.

Its almost a month and I am back. I have not been practising the meditation regularly but I am more aware of all my activities. I observe and do all my activities with more awareness. ..I think that's true vipassana..when you can let it sink into you like second nature that every waking moment you are aware..and living in the moment and not procastinating about the past or worrying about the future.


Rijo said...

Initially I felt scared ... means our past lives affect us!!! But later on as I read further I felt happy, because its true that when you get into the state of detachment from everything around you, or a state of peace & tranquility,one does not want to come back to the real world. But now I realize that we can be in both worlds at the same time.
Regarding boils in ears and your Egyptian connection, in Egyptian time they had their own method of curing diseases. They had a tool which they would insert into the ear and do some sort of stuff or to remove the brain itself.Try to check it out, I do not know much about it.

ucklyduckly said...

This is a magical post. I was transported to another world....I think I will go in for it too.

Shubhra said...

This is amazing, my nanaji was a ery spiritual man, he even wrote a book on his experiances and inclded some other people's experiances in meditation and their significance. He was a hathyogi in previous birth but in this birth he only did meditation. He is no more, died in 1998 but he remains in my memories as a great influence. Will find out and send you the link to his book if you are interested, ts available on net, if we meet I will gift you a copy.

old soul said...


This really interests me..I did a lot of yoga myself before I went for Vipassana. Infact for 5-6 years I ve practised Hatha Yoga off and on. But after my 10 day Vipassana I just stopped going for Yoga classes..the desire just dropped off..
Still figuring out why this happened. But I dont force myself into anything. I am going with the flow.

old soul said...

ucklyduckly...Thanks for the comment. Just go with the flow. I was instantly attracted to Vipassana..Many people I met discouraged me..some run away in between. I think it all depends on how deep you can go..people have different experiences..To me it came very easy as if I had done it all before...First few days are tough but it gets better and please go for it.