Saturday 26th January 2008
Meditation Goal: To feel the tiny sensations and vibrations all over the body simultaneously and fill them with love and compassion, and send those vibrations out into the room. (Metta method)
Today after the morning sessions we were allowed to speak again. I was actually quite nervous about it, because I had a suspicion that everyone would be saying “Oh wasn’t it wonderful! Don’t you feel amazing?” etc. I did not feel wonderful or amazing, and mostly hated the experience overall, but didn’t want to be the only one saying it.
However, once we went outside all the Nepali women were chatting away excitedly, and I went to find D, my Sri Lankan friend. We were both all shy, and said “Hi”, and neither of us could quite believe we were really allowed to speak. My tongue felt too big for my mouth and I mumbled a lot at first.
However, after an hour we were both chatting away as normal, and I felt so relieved!
It turns out that D had had similar problems with the Evil Jailers, and she really wanted to say something about it to someone, but of course, now that we’re allowed to talk again, the jailers were all smiles and niceness, and how can you possibly walk up to someone who’s smiley and happy and say “Oi! What’s your problem?!”
I felt so much better knowing they weren’t just picking on me, and it turned out that D had also had a bit of a meltdown on day six, and had to go and cry in her room.
D and I had loads in common, and it turned out she’d also been playing guess the vegetable at lunchtime too!
I felt such total and utter relief that I wasn’t the only one who’d struggled so much and the rest of the day was surprisingly fun and enjoyable.
We watched a documentary about the introduction of Vipassana to Indian Jails, and it was quite interesting. Even the inmates said the Vipassana regime was really strict, compared to their prison routine! Other amusing points were that it was all in English, but whenever the Australian bloke was speaking they gave him subtitles, in case people couldn’t understand him!
Also a very dodgy English bloke, in there for “allegedly” smuggling drugs through the airport, said he hasn’t actually told his family that he’s in jail – he didn’t want his mum to worry, so he just told them he’s staying on in India to do Vipassana!
Highlight of the day: Everything!
Friday morning we got up at 4 again, meditated for the last time and by 7.30am were on the bus heading back into Kathmandu.
As it had been so cold and cloudy for almost two weeks there was no chance of hot water at any of the hotels (they’re all solar heated) but D lived in Thamel and had an actual electric water heater on her shower!
She took me to her house and let me wash there (utter bliss – almost two weeks of solid filth!). After I showered and washed my hair, she even gave my hair a trim for me, and I felt amazing.
I went into town and dropped off almost everything I own at the laundry. Then I went and got a wax, manicure and pedicure. I spoiled myself and felt really great.
I walked around busy, dirty, bustling Thamel feeling oddly calm and relaxed.
It’s honestly very weird, because almost all the time I was there, I really hated it and was very sceptical of the entire process. I didn’t really believe it would work and didn’t really get it.
However, I must say that I do feel an odd sense of calm and peace, although I’m not 100% convinced that it’s because of the meditation (it could be elation at feeling clean and having a shower!).
Also, the entire time I was there, I never once craved a cigarette, which was odd, and when I came out I had no desire to smoke at all.
We went out drinking on Friday night to celebrate, and while I drank far too much, I never once wanted to smoke.
I don’t want anyone to get excited, as that feeling may wear off, but I think for the moment, I might have actually given up smoking.
Also, I weighed myself and lost 3-4 kilos while I was on the course (I was eating less and less – mostly only 1 small meal a day plus a piece of fruit in the evening, because sitting around all day doing nothing really killed my appetite).
So, I have now lost something like 2 stone since I came to Nepal, about 11 kilos or so, which I’m quite chuffed about.
It was weird being back in the real world again after being so cut off – and so much seems to have happened! Alan filled me in on all the crazy things happening in Kenya and Gaza, and I was really sad to hear about Heath Ledger, and apparently Kathmandu was crazy!
The government had raised the price of petrol and gas again, because of the shortage, but it’s the third price-hike in a month, and it sparked of huge protests and riots – burning tyres and bricks through windows.
The government had to announce a banda – like a shutdown or curfew, across the whole city on Wednesday, and no one was allowed to go out at all – all the shops and things were closed and people had to stay off the streets and inside their homes. After that they agreed to hold the price steady for at least a month (Bring on the February riots!)
I can’t believe I missed all that excitement.
So, what are my overall feelings and conclusions about Vipassana meditation?
Well, meditation isn’t really for me. Having spoken to my friend Dom, who also did the course, I think I may have had quite a unique experience, as when he did it the staff were lovely, and he was allowed to lean against the wall, and there was no construction etc.
So maybe my bad experience was an unfortunate one-off thing, but somehow I think I would have struggled anyway.
Have I changed? I don’t think so, although I do feel calm at the moment (it’s odd because I didn’t really feel at all relaxed at the centre – only after I left – maybe it’s only relief that it’s ended?). The real test will be in a week or so, the next time I get angry or upset or frustrated – can I control my emotions better?
I have learnt that I never want to spend 10 days trapped inside my own head again – it’s a scary place, and I really need interaction with others in order to stay happy and sane! Anyone who complains that I talk too much – remember it’s for my own sanity!
Despite all the negativity though, I do feel that a lot of positive things have come out of this experience. For one thing, I have just achieved my fundraising goal, and have raised 905 quid, which pending a discussion with the school next week, might be enough to send all my orphans to school next year! A really great achievement!
Also, I made a new friend, D, who is lovely, and through her I met loads of other new people last night, so I’m no longer sad about all my friends leaving.
Also I lost some weight and may have possibly given up smoking, so it was healthy if nothing else!
I’ll try and finish there, although I could go on much longer debating all the pros and cons, but I’ll leave you with one last amusing little story.
At the end of every meditation session, the Guru on the tape chanted “Bhavati Sabbe Mangalam” which means “May all be happy”. We have to chant in response “Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu”, which means “that is wise” – sort of like saying Amen.
However, D said she was really surprised by it, because in Sri Lanka that chant is only ever used at the end of the marriage ceremony, and it’s the equivalent of the priest saying “I now pronounce you man and wife”.
So, given that there were about 40 men and 40 women all in the hall together, according to Sri Lankan rituals, we actually held a mass wedding 6 or 7 times a day!
So, I may accidentally be married to 40 or so men.
I am now going to fill my body with loving vibrations and send them out into the room, so that they can infiltrate this computer and infuse this email with love and compassion.
tons of love and good vibrations,
Meditating (and also possibly married) Maya