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“It is when you leave everything that is familiar, and venture into the unfamiliar. This is when you find your truth”. -Melissa Jennewein
DISCLAIMER: I don’t expect everyone that reads this to be able to relate to it or even understand it, as it is even new for me. This is just an account of my personal experience with Vipassana Meditation in Horisapur, India…
The night before the journey was in itself a ride. Arriving in Punjab, there is little I can say about this city as I was only there for an evening, but it appeared to have all the usual Indian staples.. plenty of horn blowing, cows blocking streets, chai wallahs, and street stalls boasting the usual jars of sweets and long tentacle like bags of chips hanging from its corners like giant squid floating in the breeze.
This evening, I thought it would be safer and more hygienic to eat at a KFC (which I was shocked to see here in the first place), than to tempt fate and eat at one of the many street corner food stands. Wrong. Waaaaay wrong. The entire night was spent running to the bathroom and having it rebel from both ends leaving my body covered in a blanket of sweat and shaking miserably. It’s now 4am and we start this thing today at 3pm? Read More
So what is a Vipassana Meditation Course you ask? Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind, and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness.
This truth- realization by direct experience is the process of purification.
The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems, and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and it will prove equally beneficial to one and all.
The 10 day retreat daily schedule looks like this:
4:00am Morning wake-up bell
4:30- 6:30am Meditate in the hall or in your room/pagoda
6:30-8:00am Breakfast break
8:00am-9:00am Group meditation in the hall
9:00am-11:00am Meditate in the hall or in your room
(according to the teacher’s instructions)
11:00am 12noon – Lunch break
12:00-1:00pm Rest, and interviews with the teacher
1:00pm-2:30pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30pm-3:30pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30pm- 5:00pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
(according to the teacher’s instructions)
5:00pm – 6:00pm Tea break
6:00pm – 7:00pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00pm – 8:15pm Teacher’s discourse in the hall
8:15pm – 9:00pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00pm – 9:30pm Question time in the hall
9:30pm Retire to your room; lights out
Rinse and Repeat.
You can find more information about Dhamma Vipassana Meditation Centers HERE.
I am always surprised when friends apologize for being in a bad mood, or sharing their life challenges when I bump into them, as though there is something wrong with sharing our difficulties with each other. This is yet another example of the bullshit positivity world we have created in western life, where we are only acceptable to each other if we share good news. I wonder if we have communicated the message that someone else’s bad news is unacceptable because we are trying to bypass our own difficulties. Whatever it is, this has to stop. We aren’t going to co-create a genuinely positive world until we can hold space for each other’s shadow. Better an authentic frown than an inauthentic smile any day. A smile that is built on a pretentious foundation isn’t a smile at all…
-Jeff Brown (Author, Film-maker, Grounded Spiritualist)
Jeff Brown’s statement above really resonates with me right now, as I have been dancing with my shadows quite often lately and as time passes, the dance seems to continue with more friction and intensity. While this masquerade has been taking place, I find myself pulling away from others when the shadows are stirred, as when these (invited) guests arrive, they also bring along their friends sadness, sorrow, anger, frustration, pain, and hurt, which in my mind, nobody likes.
Why is it that I feel to share these emotions, these “down” times as they seem, is unwelcome? Maybe it is from past experiences when I did allow these things to rock into the light while in the presence of others, and noticed that many lacked the ability to hold the space needed and just let things be as they were without downplaying it, or trying to “fix” the situation? That it made them feel so very uncomfortable, incapable, and confused? Maybe it is because after a couple of “releases” I also lost friends who thought that this burst of buried emotion meant that I was emotionally unstable? Am I emotionally unstable? I ask myself this question as sometimes it does feel a bit crazy when some anger that has been repressed for over 15 years can no longer be contained explodes into a pillow punching fest that leaves me exhausted and yet… a bit lighter as if some weight has been lifted from my souls burdens.
As I sit now with a family of seekers, of space holders, of welcomers of shadows, I can feel that my care for holding back these things any longer starting to disappear, and as I allow these shadows to be seen, their control over me also is beginning to disappear. For the first time in my life I feel that I have found a beautiful sacred space with just the right people to hold me while I allow all of my shadows to surface, to look right at them, and say “welcome my friends, it’s nice that you finally have arrived, I have been waiting so long to meet you…”
What are your experiences with this topic? We grow with unconditional support, with love, with understanding… How do we learn to allow ourselves to see all of us? To be able to hold space for others to discover their underlying patterns? Do share your thoughts below…
The universe is held in a sparkling blue
Two sometimes three points outline satisfaction
As ice melts the temperature rises
Dancing until sunrise
I see that I am seen
Watched from a distance
The push is a pull
Dare I surrender?
Walk into the forever?
My heart beats faster
Melting into the blue
I dream of you…
Time passes by
And I wonder why
Our worlds did collide
Here I sit
The rain continues to fall
Feelings sink deeper
And then not at all
I watch as my mind
Of darkness and light
Of bliss and fright
Of fear and delight
Where this road will lead
I cannot know
It has had many twists and turns
Going from fast to slow
I wish that I could hear
That I had nothing to fear…