A Passionate Vipassana Experience

I was at a vipassana meditation the other week, it was really real like i felt every second of it. There were gongs chimed outside, which i heard except for the first ones in the morning at 4am…it was strange cause my system/brain/ears/tongue/whatever must have programmed it in early on in the piece to wake up instantly at 4.30, the second gong call, but sleep right through the first one, cause i did that all week, except for the second day, which was the only day the manager came in to check on us…and i was fast asleep…she had this mini gong which she rang just outside my ear, and i woke up with a jolt and stared at her for a second, placing her in context, then it all flooded back, that’s right, i’ve been silly enough to nominate myself to go on this crazy retreat for 10 days where you don’t talk, look or make eye contact with anyone, get up at ludicrous hours in the cold and just sit there and meditate till 9 at night…or at least look like your meditating, which isn’t that hard to do once you’ve got your legs in the pro-lotus pose… Naah seriously mostly i was pretty good. but when she came in with that mini gong, it really threw me and i thought shit, i must’ve done something really bad this time…what’s going on? i looked at her and totally forgot about the no talking rule, i mean, give me a break i was in the middle of transit from REM to waking modality, and i was doing pretty well to know where i was i thought…and i blurted out ‘Oh sorry did i sleep in or something?’ and she just smiled and left the room.
the next day, at around 5am, i was in the midst of meditating and totally focused on some sensation in my body, i cant recall exactly what it was or where it was, but i’m sure it’s not there now, anyway, suddenly, the smoke alarm went off. I had got into the whole ‘everything passes’ thing and thought, ’i’m not going to react to this, it’s just a test…maybe it’s done deliberately to see how i respond…maybe there’s video cameras and the managers are watching my every move, and as the alarm went off, i was looking at the ceiling for some impeccably placed video camera then the thought came to me that i was supposed to be meditating and had to go back to my breath, so i did and the alarm miraculously went off. ‘wonderful’, i thought. Then i realised i was getting feel-good feelings all over my body of sweet relief and you’re not supposed to engage in any kind of craving or aversion, and this clearly was both of them – aversion from the piercing alarm and craving for the beautiful peaceful silence. so i started freaking out that i’m a fraud and i wasn’t doing it right and what if i can’t do it right and all that sort of negative self-belief talk and again i realised i’ve gone off on my thoughts again and had to go back to my breath and just observe dispassionately. I finally got there and was doing the meditation thingy thing and off goes the alarm for round 2. I sat through it and thought ‘wow, i am amazing…what tolerance…maybe i should be a social worker and hang around screaming kids all day’.the alarm stopped after about a minute, which is no ordinary minute, this is 60 seconds punctuated every half second by a piercing alarm sound. Another 2 times this happened and i thought of the girls in the room just behind me and thought it would be disrupting their meditation, and that if it went off again, i’d have to stop it for the Greater Good. so, i was almost meditating in anticipation, and started concocting ways of tackling it and after 5 minutes, it still hadn’t gone off, there seemed to be no logic or system to it, it was, as all irritating things are, totally random and untame-able. i gave up and forgot about it and fully focused on meditating, and at the least expected moment, when i thought peace would reign, it went off. And so did I. ‘That’s fucking IT!” I looked up at the culprit with a look of disgust and a bit of fear, as if it was some gigantic green headed monster that had crashed through my ceiling in the middle of the night. I had to cut its throat open and rip out its guts to fully exterminate it or it would come back even bigger and louder than ever before. I started gingerly banging the side of the alarm i could reach with my palm, but to no avail. It carried on as if i wasn’t there, which irritated me even more. Alarms are one of the few things that really make me crazy – like i just can’t think at all, let alone straight, they’re like monsters coming to get me and my crew and i just have to attack them like a monkey with big arm-swinging whacks until it falls out of the tree and dies motherfucker dies. So yeah, i was graduating from ginger whacks to no avail to slightly firmer whacks to belts and chunks of plaster were flying off the edges and plaster dust was landing in my eyes and the alarm just kept on going. I didn’t have the patience or focus to look closely and calmly to find where the off switch was…and besides, I inherently don’t believe they exist…well i’ve never come across one anyway, and i couldn’t carefully take it out and analyse how it works, cause it was beeping like crazy and sending the wires between my ears crazy and i was close to eating the thing, so i just ripped it out like i was pulling a heart out of someone i didn’t like very much, or at all, and it just swang there, beeping like crazy, on its 20 cm plastic cord. Now i swear i was fuming and if i had smoke, it would be coming out my nostrils right then and there. i just couldn’t believe how resolute this little shit was. I somehow composed myself and managed about 4 seconds of determined focus and found a clip which i instantly pressed and the whole thing fell to the floor. Still going off, but it had changed like it was breaking down, i had almost killed the beast it was sounding more like an ambulance now and i had gone from enraged to fascinated but still intent on ending it. So i pounced down and ripped the battery out and stepped away from it cause it still beeped for another 10 seconds kind of whining away getting lower and lower sounding and there was a part of me that was ready for another outburst as if by some miraculous feat it would piece by peice, fly up to the ceiling and resurrect itself and start all over again…but, it stopped. I felt as if i had just escaped out of the twin towers and was amongst all the rubble, and then i left it all there with the plaster bits strewn around the room and got back to meditating and told myself 5 times or so ‘it’s ok, it’s never, ever going to return, you’re safe now’, and meditated peacefully for another hour or so till breakfast.
The gong for breakfast rang and I was in a very pleasant state, feeling no rush to do anything, just sitting there, having long forgotten about the earlier event, when my manager came in for the second time. Again, I totally forgot about the no speaking rule and blurted out ‘sorry about that i was just thinking of the other girls trying to meditate and thought it would distract them’ ‘what?’ ‘oh, the alarm’ i said, pointing to the floor. She looked and her face, i wish i had a camera, just metamorphosed from non-descript to disbelief in one second and she looked at me and gave me this kind of laugh like animals do when they’re actually scared of each other and are trying to avoid confrontation, and walked out.
I thought ‘Oh shit, she thinks i’m some kind of pyscopathic murderer…hmm…i’m hungry’ and went to have breakfast. After breakfast she came up to me and requested i see the teacher, but she wouldn’t tell me what it was about. So I did. I walked into the meditation hall and the lovely peaceful teacher was sitting there and said ‘ hello Lara’. ‘hi’ i said. ‘I just have one question for you, and i want you to answer it honestly’. ‘okay…’ ‘when you broke the alarm, did you do it out of anger?’
I was so surprised i had to try extra hard to hold back my amusement, and with a deadly serious face replied “well you see, it had gone off not once but at least 4 times, and i was only thinking of the other people meditating and thought it was too disruptive, and it’s”… I paused for a second as i looked into her eyes and saw how peaceful she was and injected my line of argument with ‘most people’ instead of the original ‘everyone’ finds the sound extremely irritating, and it’s best switched off. So no, i wasn’t angry, just determined.’ Suddenly the thought crossed my mind ‘am i going to get expelled from vipassana under the accusation of being a very dangerous person prone to psychopathic murderer-like tendencies?’ and i looked at her with my sweetest smile and apologised and made some comment about how yum the porridge was this morning. She looked through me, you know what i mean, and i really was tuning up on my acting skills as i sat there feigning comfort as a shiver went down my spine. ‘well, try next time to notify the manager first if there’s any other problem’. ‘Sure, no worries. And with that, i jumped up and left before i got made to leave.
The rest of the trip was full of other adventures which i will expand on as the weeks go, but i think i’m feeling a bit typed out for now, and that episode is wrapped up and done. So i hoped you enjoyed it and it may inspire some of you to check out what Vipassana is all about. Tolerance and peace are a few aspects, but it really was well worth the time, and possibly the hardest thing i’ve encountered in my 28 year life span. But very cool. Very rewarding and kind of transformative.
Stay tuned for episode 2….Whatever form that takes. : ) PEACE OUT! Just can’t help myself…it’s fun being a hippie…sometimes too much fun…

A Passionate Vipassana Experience


Balaclava, Australia

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