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The Emotional Rollercoaster of a Ten Day Vipassana Course Squished into a Five Minute Blog

Entry Day

“So how did you end up in here?”

The registration room sounds like a scene from Orange is the New Black, more divorces and less violent crime though.

Day 1

No mantras, no metta, no visuals, no guru, no chanting, no yoga. Just the air passing over my nostrils and upper lip, okay.

Day 2

Why is that woman picking all the almonds out of the muesli, and what kind of sociopath washes dishes like that?!

Day 3

We haven’t even started the Vipassana part yet? Fuck.

Day 4

This isn’t meditation. Meditation is bliss and vibrations and warmth and love. This is torture and I hate everyone who encouraged me to do this.

Day 5

The giggles.

Day 6

Why was the gong going off all night and who was cooking bacon outside my window?

Day 7

This is definitely not for me… but I got this far, and you cant go home on day 7. Can you?

Day 8

Alert! There is LSD in the fruit salad, warn the others! I repeat, there is LSD in the fruit salad.

Day 9

Every flower and fruit and seed is just a lesson in impermanence… *stares at tree for 45 minutes*

Day 10

Now that noble silence is lifted and the LSD effect has worn off, get me the fuck out of here.

I am however, comforted to hear I wasn’t the only one having bacon hallucinations.

Departure Day

I wonder if I can find a massage place that will let me drink lattes through a straw in the face-hole of the massage bed…

Pre-Vipassana Terror

In four hours I am entering into my first ten day Vipassana meditation and the panic has begun!

I don’t like being uncomfortable. I hate cardio, I hate itchy sweaters and wherever I am is either too warm or too cold. I know I have plenty of work to do in the self-discipline/willpower/mental stamina department. If I have any opportunity to escape even mild inconvenience or irritance I will do so without hesitation! ‘Toughing it out’ is not my thing.
So what possessed me to sign up for ten days of silent meditation in the middle of winter in the frigid Blue Mountains of Australia? Up at four each morning, nine hours of sitting meditation per day, no reading, no writing, no technology, no eye contact and a conservative vegetarian diet. The website even refers to the quarters as ‘meditation cells’ not sure what kind of PR person approved that phrasing for the website…
Vipassana is also called ‘insight meditation’. I want to be challenged physically, mentally and forced inward to take a good, hard look at all that vile shit I have spent my entire life trying to repress and veneer. Hopefully chip away at that nice thick ego facade a little more. I am not surprised this processing has started even now, I am already questioning myself, criticising myself. Am I doing this just for my gross ‘spiritual resume’? Am I trying to avoid the reality of my new life (I should maybe mention I left my stable well-paid corporate gig last week and put all my possessions in storage yesterday, that is a whole other blog though).
I can be particularly unbearable when I haven’t had coffee or when I am hungry and cannot imagine how I will even get out of bed at 4am without the promise of a latte.
I will be cut off from every person I know for ten full days. I am spoiled to have relationships with the most beautiful people in this incarnation that anyone could ever ask for and not being able to reach out to them may be my biggest battle of all. That or the coffee…

Details for the centre I am attending can be found at http://www.bhumi.dhamma.org/

Spiritual Travel

Is it necessary to ‘eat, pray, love’ yourself around the globe?

The idea of going away to find yourself is romantic and age-old.  For me, this conjures up images of ashrams and jungles and relaxed, sun-damaged divorcee’s.  It used to make me think of gap years, Contiki tours and vomit-stained backpacks so I guess I’m getting older.  Can we really run away and find ourselves? We know that our true self lies within (and all that other bullshit people who spent 3 life-changing years in India tell us).  I cant help but feel like they want to keep us out to keep it pure, hoping the stories of violent dysentery will equate to at least one less white girl with henna waiting in line for darshan next spring.

Is my desire to go to India just my ego demanding some kind of grotesque spiritual brownie points?  Is it my desire to maintain the utmost respect and authenticity telling me to go to Peru to take Ayahuasca, or is it just pathetic hipster snobbery turning my nose up at taking it here in Australia? My theory is that spiritual travel might be like a long, drawn out psychedelic experience.  Things look different, the air smells different and things have a certain magic and that feeling of untapped potential. Travel, in general, can give you all of this and we never want to go home just like we never want to come down. Imprinting this awe into our psyche and taking home the unshakable memory of each day’s true potential might be what we need sometimes.  LSD reminds you how great clouds are and the gurus remind you what love is.  It is what you do with this knowledge that counts though, because we all need to go home and chances are there will be some abandoned baggage patiently awaiting your return.

 

I’ve got 99 problems and Jesus is one of them

I am not a fan of Jesus.
Few things make me more uncomfortable than seeing Jesus on a puja table next to some fantastic deity or guru. Neem Karoli Baba loved Jesus, what is my fucking problem?
I went to church this past Easter. It had been at least 5 years, likely more since I last attended a service. I was spending the long weekend away with friends who worship on the holidays, so I went with it. I was fuelled a little bit by hope, but to be honest the dominant driving force was morbid curiosity.
“Buddha is dead, Muhammed is dead, but Jesus is alive!”
After the disappointment of not bursting into flames when entering the church THIS is what I was dealing with. Alongside some wild statements about Darwin looking for but never finding Jesus’ bones of course.
By the end my blood was boiling.
I desperately wanted to rush up to this pastor and tell him about Buddha, ask how he dare belittle the faith of others and most importantly give him a lecture on the fossil record. Is this how Muslims feel when they see an ISIS video?
Poor Jesus though right?! He is just another enlightened being like Buddha who happened to take that human incarnation. Still, even after sitting with this insight, I see the Bible as an instrument of self-righteous justification waved in the air by biggots and hypocrites. That is my honest, gut reaction despite three childhood summers spent at a super-hip bible camp with canoes and a zip-line.
Is what I see just Jesus the ego, projected from a lost band of followers and not Jesus the soul? I want to see past it, I want to dig into what those kind, loving Christians see, without the god-fearing “strike down upon thee” part.
So much work to be done in this incarnation.

Coming down from the Ram Dass retreat

I didn’t know what to do after the retreat.
Watching little rays of unconditional love get carted away on shuttles that last day was sadness defined. Scanning the airport in a slightly desperate fashion for a familiar face or that blue lanyard.
There are no mala beads on this aeroplane.
How much of this do I get to take home? Where is my post-retreat glow? Did I fail, because I feel like shit?! I have attached myself to the retreat now, attachment is one of my ‘tails’ that Roshi Joan was talking about. I am not off to a good start.
I feel like our satsang is real but is it like leaving a job, proclaiming you will stay in touch but never do? I reactivated my Facebook account trying to reinforce the bonds, clinging…clinging. At least I am being mindful of my clinging, Jack Kornfield would be proud. Facebook gave me two options when I signed back on ‘continue’ or ‘not you?’ great question Zuckerberg. How long will it take to explain to my ex mother-in-law about the Indian man in the blanket? Fuck.
It’s about integration though right? We can’t delete our lives and start again, we need to sculpt and re-work the old one into something worthy of us. Throwing out some comfortable old poison looks inevitable now though.
In Be Here Now, RD describes how those at Harvard taking the Psylocin all began sitting together at lunch, forming a ‘cult’. Who am I going to sit with when I get home? I don’t want to hear about reality TV, or your stupid job you hate or even worse, how much money you make at your stupid job that you hate. Love them unconditionally? I don’t know about everyone else, but my day-to-day interactions are generally not with blossoming retreat lotuses, they more closely resemble Duncan’s “forest of cunts”. What you see in those around you are simply reflections of yourself though aren’t they?
Right now Bali sounds good, or Peru or India if I can muster the courage. Can I go back to Maui or is that cheating? How do I tell if I am legitimately searching or just running away?
Always more questions than answers.

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