Gone fishin’…in the deep end of my mind!
Pre-10 Day Vipassana Retreat
In two hours I head off to a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. I signed up a few months ago and didn’t think too much about it. But this past week, as the day of the retreat drew closer, I started freaking out. Maybe I can fly straight home, this second, right now? This thought consumed me a few days ago as I sat in the Funky Salsa restaurant of Pokhara. My stomach was aching from the Nepalese attempt at a mushroom-spinach enchilada and I had just found out about the lice infestation in all my clothes. I was ready to empty my bank account and book the first available flight to America.
My panic passed but I spent a good chunk of the next day trying to find some other sort of retreat, maybe something cheap that involved hiking and yoga and would allow me to write/read? I gave up on that one when I realized that everything cost at least several hundred dollars (the Vipassana retreat is totally free).
So here I am, day of. There are moments when I panic and find myself expecting a miserably boring form of torture. But in other moments it seems like the best way to end this semester abroad.
I have heard some great things (my advisor’s friend with Parkinson’s was able to reduce his tremors and cut his medicine load in half after this retreat and other bloggers boast of incredible moments of peaceful bliss, euphoric connections with the universe, all that jazz). But then I’ve heard some horrible things (several people have ended up loony and in need of psychiatric help). So, either this will be a wonderful experience or one of the worst.
I’m leaning toward it being hugely difficult but worth it in the end. The no talking for ten days I think I can manage. The no dinner part will be tough. No eye contact or physical contact with the other 100 some participants will be a little more difficult. But the no writing, reading, music, or yoga will be VERY HARD for me. The idea is that you have zero distractions available to you so you are pretty much forced to deal with your shit, to put it poetically.
Here’s the daily schedule:
4:00 am: Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am: Meditate in hall or your room
6:30-8:00 am: Breakfast break (porridge, fruit, toast)
8:00-9:00 am: Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am: Meditate in hall or your room
11:00-12:00 noon: Lunch break (dal, rice, veggies)
12:00-1:00 pm: Rest and free time
1:00-2:30 pm: Meditate in the hall or room
2:30-3:30 pm: Group meditation in hall
3:30-5:00 pm: Meditate in hall or own room
5:00-6:00 pm: Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm: Teacher’s discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm: Question time in the hall
9:30 pm: Lights out
Rinse and repeat for ten days!
I keep trying to figure out who I am right now in this BEFORE part of the retreat. I feel relatively calm but that’s probably because I’ve just been bumming around (I spent all of yesterday lounging around a café drinking cold chocolate drinks and biding my time until dinner). I’ve never really meditated for more than a half hour or so at a time, soooo we’ll see how meditating all day goes.
A lot of the bloggers who have done this retreat talk about the depersonalization process. Basically, when you have no one to talk to (or at), you start to wonder what makes you you. When you’re just sitting all day, what makes you an individual? For some people this process is very difficult and they end up crying and letting go of old hurts that have been holding them back. I’m not sure what my ‘old hurts’ are, but I’m interested in seeing how I feel about them after these ten days.
So for now I feel a bit like I’m stuck in the whirlpool of a drain: I’m in too far to get out now. All I can do is swirl around and try to relax. Hopefully, when this drain shoots me out in ten days, I’ll be in a pretty good place (and not a shit-infested sewer).
See you in ten days!