Vipassana Meditation.

where is my mind, vipassana meditation, vipassana, meditation

Vipassana Meditation … My personal experience

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…

Pre Party- The night before…

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? 

Day One: Introduction 

Vipass-ana: Very Impatient Person Asked to Sit Silently ana whole lot of nausea …

Arriving at the centre an hour early in such a poor state, I am left standing outside the office waiting for someone to welcome me to the centre and admit me into the program. After about half an hour watching others arrive, I finally decide to saunter into the office and admit myself. As I am filling out the required paperwork, I meet people from all kinds of places – the UK, Israel, America, Spain, and of course, India.

There is a young girl named Maya who catches my attention immediately as she has a quiet desperation in her eyes and a nagging cough haunting her chest, and is being asked the same questions as I am, such as “What is your profession?”, and “Who is your emergency contact?” She declines to have either and I make a joke about being a professional time traveler with contacts in the stars as an option for her. In the very least, the Indian sitting on the other side of the table can write something down as he is in desperate need of an answer and a laugh at the same time. Maya stares blankly beyond the office walls and after a beat or two I again focus on my own application. We finish our paper work and are assigned our rooms and are told to return to the office in an hour to have orientation.

I am paired with a young girl from Spain who is simply delightful. We sneak out of the centre to share our last cigarette and stories of how we came to arrive at this place, and our excitement and anticipation for the days to come. Then it’s orientation time. If you are interested in what Vipassana Meditation is all about click here for the full details which were covered in the introduction meeting.

When it concludes, the man leading the meeting mumbles something that I did not quite catch, so I ask another woman leaving the office what we were expected to do next and she replied “Go to your room.” Ahhh great I thought as I was exhausted from the sickness and travel and eager to rest. After a quick brush of my teeth and wardrobe change, I am asleep in the sparsely furnished and dimly lit room before my head falls upon the pillow.

Day Two: Frustration 

Vipass-ana: Violent Intentions Permeate All Sacred Spaces ana I’m confused …

The bell sounds at 4am and I wipe the sleep from my eyes slowly and look around feeling a bit confused as to where I am. As I lay there assessing the situation, my roommate awakes and prepares herself for day two. I follow suit and get dressed and head to the hall for the morning meditation from 4:30am-6:30am. When I arrive I see that the hall is divided; men on one side, and the women are on the other. It appears that I missed something as everyone is taking what seems to be pre-arranged seats (pillows on the floor) so I decide to take the one in the back corner as it has yet to be claimed. The first two hours go by effortlessly, minus the discomfort from the food poisoning, but as the day progresses, it goes from bad to worse. I have a serious case of what they call “monkey mind” and it’s wild and on the loose throwing poop in my face.

monkey mind

Many thoughts arise and they are fueled by anger. First there is the anger at my father, then my ex husband, at myself, the world, this place, humanity, and the list goes on. The relentless onslaught from my past wells up inside of me until I feel like I’m going to explode. Finally the bell rings for lunch and I am grateful for the break from this madness until I arrive in the dining hall. The food is as uninteresting and unappetizing as any I have seen in India and does not persuade me to eat. I stare at the plate and think to myself, “What the hell am I doing here? Is this the right thing for me?” Just then an overwhelming sadness and loneliness takes hold and I take a walk. As I stroll through the grounds trying to find anything beautiful, all I see is dust, dying flowers, and waves of heat rising from the ground. This is not helping I think as I sink deeper into an unavoidable depression. Attaching to these thoughts… no, no, not attaching, but giving some serious importance to them instead of just observing them as if they were happening to someone else and I were just watching from a distance. I later learned that in doing so I was fueling them and giving them power over me which was the opposite of helpful…

After the lunch break and walk, I return to the meditation hall with the group for another two hours of silence. The noise in my head had calmed dramatically until I arrived in that hall and began the meditation. Once there, it was as if I could hear the drama happening in everyone present in the room, and all at the same time deep within the folds of my mind. It was loud, painful, and disturbing to say the least. I stuck with it though, and listened to the noise for what seemed like an eternity.

I finished the day laying on the edge of the lifeless, flowerless, round concrete planter that sits in the middle of the rest of the concrete grounds of the women’s area, staring up at the stars and attempting to make some wishes. As I daydream, out of nowhere comes this overwhelming feeling like I was going to die.. and it’s suffocating me. Moments later there is some kind of dust or smoke storm that begins to cloud the night sky. The stars disappear behind this curtain and I start to choke on the stuff. The suffocation feeling all of a sudden just got a little more real, so much that I was forced to retreat into my room. Once there I cannot ignore this massive overwhelming feeling that death was taking me somewhere else and it was coming soon. I finally fell asleep and just 2 hours later I heard the chiming of the wake up bell.

Day Three: Suicidal & Homicidal Tendencies

Vipass-ana:  Varying Identities Present A Special Session ana I’m dying in here…

This is when shit really starts to get scary for me. As I could not sleep the previous night, I was a bit groggy when I stumbled out of my bed and into the courtyard. Standing in my pjs, I looked into the still dark sky above and took some deep breaths. And then I hear a door slam and the women’s assistant attendee rushes out of the courtyard. Moments later two men appear and enter room F6. One man starts screaming “Maya!! Mayaaaaaa!! No no noooooooo!!” and I can see him shaking a body on the bed inside frantically until he crumbles onto the floor in a heap of sobs. Immediately I remember this feeling from the previous night, the suffocating, death is coming feeling that was so incredibly heavy. One man notices me frozen, standing stiff in the courtyard and waves his hand at me as if to say “Please, go away.” I try to react to this gesture, but I am stuck solid standing there in the courtyard as if my feet were glued to the ground. I can’t seem to move and am just there pondering the feelings and remembering how I felt just a couple hours before and all of the times I spent in the meditation hall with the others…

Some time passes and we are being escorted to the hall for the start to this day.  I can feel my body is present, but my mind has disappeared into the wasteland. Somehow through the day, this death theme haunts me. It even turns on me and suggests I try it out.. you know, then all the things that are troubling you will just cease to exist. Do what? Is this really happening? Did I just offer to off myself? And did it really seem more appealing than looking at my shadows and simultaneously stay in the present moment?  This cannot be… After the morning meditation and yet another unappetizing meal that I could not force myself to eat, I decide to go sit in a meditation cell in the Pagoda instead of joining the others in the hall. I enter the tiny space and sit quietly and start to observe my thoughts. They are about a tenth in intensity, but again come immediately as if they were just on pause, and again, it’s this death theme. I notice that I am starting to feel anger, hatred even, some sadness, plenty of confusion, and a hint of curiosity. Well, these are the ingredients for a crazy cake I think as I then notice that I am making a judgement on myself and have slipped out of observation mode. The onslaught continues for 3 hours and then its time for lunch. Again, I cannot seem to eat, and am approached by the woman’s assistant. She asks why I was not in the hall this morning after breakfast, and I explain to her while pointing at the schedule on the wall in giant English print, that it says we have a choice to join the hall, go to the pagoda, or our room and to please back off. She doesn’t. After lunch it is time again to have a choice, and I chose my room. Feeling exhausted from the lack of nutrients, the upset stomach, the awareness that when I am in the hall with the others I feel as if I can hear everyone (which is overwhelming enough), so I decide to take a nap. This woman enters my room and slaps my bed with her hand threatening me that I should be in the hall with the others, not in here sleeping, and that this is not Vipassana. I look at her – stare into her and can see that she cannot see my state of health, and that keeps me from exploding on her and slamming the door in her face. I ignore her and decide to join the hall at the scheduled time for group meditations half an hour later. This went ok, but again playing in the background was this deep, darkness of hatred and anger that was troubling. I watched but it scared me.. I imagined people hurting people, of hurting myself, doing some intense destruction like breaking a giant piece of glass of burning something down. After it was over, I retreated to the Pagoda meditation cell again to attempt to regain some balance and just a speck of sunshine would be nice in all of this dark. I fall asleep instead, and this suits me just fine. The day finishes with watching a video to such a volume on such a tv that it sounded as if the master was talking with a mouth full of marbles. I did not gain anything from this other than more frustration…

Day Four: The Great Escape

Vipass-ana:  Vipassana Isn’t Providing A Spiritual Sensation ana I’m ready to go …

The day starts again at 4:30am, as I am shuffling off to the meditation hall to join the group. After missing breakfast, lunch and dinner from the day before, my body is feeling a little weak, and my mind has left me also mentally exhausted. I look for my friend that I arrived here with and as his eyes meet mine for the first time since the day we started this thing, I feel this deep sense of connection and tears start to fall. I don’t want to sit here any longer with these crazy feelings and thoughts that I know now are a collective energy that I can somehow tune into; I want to be held and just cry. I want to kick and scream and slam my hands into the earth. I somehow manage a smile at the thought of connecting with him, and close my eyes to meditate. The show starts as soon as my eyelashes touch each other and it’s even bigger and wilder than before. The monkey mind has turned into a jungle party and it is relentless. I sit with this for two hours and again after yet one final unappetizing meal, I decide to retreat to the Pagoda to meditate the next 3 hours alone. An hour later, and after a much calmer meditation session alone, I leave to my room to lay down before the lunch bell sounds when that woman arrives again. She approaches and tells me that if I am not here to practice true Vipassana then well… I finish her statement for her and say “Yes, I am leaving. Your job is done here.” I quickly pack my things and walk to the office where I collapse outside into tears. I sat there for some time crying when my friend appears and takes me into his arms. I feel myself falling into pieces within his grasp, and through the tears I explain to him that I must go. That he can stay, we can meet later, but that I can no longer handle being here. He looks right into my eyes as says “Let’s go then. I am ready too. This is not the best place to do Vipassana. Trust me, I know- I have done this before, and I have something to compare it to. Look around you, everything is dead or dying. The food is terrible, and the organization is practically non existent. It’s not a very good center for this process”. Relieved to hear this, we begin our departure process which takes some time.

We are offered a ride to the bus station from two detectives who were there no doubt to investigate Maya’s death. While in the car, one of the investigators pulls a manilla envelope from his lap and pours out some photos. He sifts through them until he choses a couple to share with my friend and I. They are close up photos of Maya’s lifeless body. Her face, completely blue and speckled with black dots, with her eyes wide open; her hands curled into fists at her waist. Immediately I feel this wave of sadness and a few tears fall as I close my eyes and attempt to shake the images from my memory as I cannot come up with one good reason why I need to keep those in my mind. My friend and I arrive at the bus station and find our way to the bay with the bus to Dharmsala. That is where my sister and a good friend are, and I can’t help but to feel that I need to be close to some people that I love, and that I know love me. We hop on and start our journey north and as the miles increase between us and the other 60 meditators back at the center, I can start to feel myself calming down and feeling that this was the right choice for me…

In summary…

Vipassana is touted as a highly effective meditation program for serious self inquiry seekers, and I was curious to experience it. However, after spending just 4 days in this program, I came to realize that it is not for everyone… or better yet, not in all stages of ones experience. I learned (in hindsight mostly) that I have yet to master the art of not eating the energy of others. I learned that I have what some may call a “gift” where I can literally “feel” what others are feeling.  I felt Maya dying as if I were the one suffocating. I realized after leaving the group to meditate alone in the Pagoda that I could feel the collective energy of the people in that meditation hall and that I did not know how to “turn it off”. The entire process for me was a very strange one. It left me feeling that I needed more guidance and to be in the presence of a healer that I knew I could trust to help me sort out this new found confusion that I stumbled into. The next part of this journey would lead me to embrace the nature of the Himalayas, and two people that are very close to my heart, and onto a plane that would take me back to Hart, Germany to meet again with my first real spiritual guide…

What are your thoughts on meditation in general, “monkey-mind”, feeling the collective energy of others, and Vipassana Meditation? Please do share in the comments section below!

meditation, vipassana meditation



6 Comments on “Vipassana Meditation.

  1. Well Damn Girl, that was intense! There is no coincidence that you had a physical clean out during that incredibly emotional experience. I have never done that type of meditation so can not speak to it but it does seem that you learned some very important things about yourself and your innate abilities. I’m sorry that you had to learn them in such a in your face way! I also am proud of you for putting an honest review of the experience out there. That takes bravery when one is talking about a religious/spiritual practice. Good luck on your journey! May you find what you seek! LOVE

    • Indeed it was intense! It took quite some time to digest… As I am now back with a very wise and talented healer, I am learning some techniques on how to “protect” myself without withdrawing completely from picking up on others feelings and energy. I was emailed a very interesting article on how to stop absorbing the energy of others and am trying a technique that is new to me… we will see how that one goes! Thank you for the kudos, it is not always easy to get so raw, but I feel it’s important to be honest. Hopefully it inspires someone somewhere hahaha 🙂 Much love to you too Esther <3

  2. Bo cet ta,
    Your experience is unique to your abilities, it is good you know when to go.
    Love you cha cha

    • Can you tell me more about this as I have a feeling I got this “gift” somehow from you… Love you too chee chee

  3. I wouldn’t have made it past the food poisoning and the entrance to the building let alone the first day.

    On the topic of Monkey Mind, I learned about it when I was at a Buddhist temple in Lansing, Mi. A friend of mine brought me there and it was my first time ever experiencing meditation in an actual real temple with real practitioners. After 20 minutes of sitting meditation and then 20 minutes of walking meditation we sat around in a large circle and had conversation with the monk. It was such a great experience in a beautiful temple.

    It’s been quite a while since this happened so I can’t quite remember how the conversation went but somewhere during it one of the gentleman meditators said how he cannot stop his mind from wandering away and bouncing around from one thing to the next. I was so happy that he brought this up because I felt exactly the same. I can not seem to quiet my mind enough to focus on the meditation. Then the monk explained monkey mind and everything made much more sense.

    Just knowing what monkey mind is changed my perspective on quieting the mind and helped a lot. But what really helped the most was when I discovered labyrinths, especially one in particular..the one at Moore’s Park in Lansing. It had a sign at the entrance and explained that on your way to the center you let everything go until your mind is empty when you reach the center. (there’s more to it than that but that’s pretty much the jest of it) So I practiced ‘letting go’ of not just thoughts but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I did this many times but it wasn’t until about the 10th time when I took a different approach that I actually achieved the emptiness. As I entered the labyrinth I started in mind with my current situations that caused so much agony in my life and let them drift away from me into outer space and then beyond outer space into the nothingness. Then after those thoughts were gone I imagined all of my possessions drift away into outer space and into the nothingness. Then my clothes and then my self doubts and even my loved ones until everything outside of my body has drifted away into nothingness. All that was left was my body, my mind and my emotions. Slowly I let them drift away into the nothingness starting with my health and hygiene, and then my mind and thoughts and then my emotions had left me and I kid you not because I was so focused on all this I hadn’t even realized that I reached the center of the labyrinth at the moment every single aspect of my entire existence had left me into the nothingness. And for some reason it didn’t startle me and make me think, “Oh wow! I did it!” It’s like it felt natural and right and it was no big deal.
    So I sat in the center of the labyrinth and found the zen in the nothingness for a brief time and then slowly allowed thoughts to come back into my mind but only thoughts of joy and beauty. Then after I felt a tinge of happiness I began to focus on my ‘self’. Everything was so clear and inspiring as I caught myself with that same grin that the Buddha has in all of his statues. I saw the future me and it was a great one. A great future right where it should be and how it should be and how it could be and I accepted it.
    Then after a little more contemplation I stood up and stretched a little and then proceeded to make my way back out of the labyrinth. And as I slowly and joyously took the steps around the curves of the path I thought deeply about this future ‘self’ and it was like the path was laid out for me. Like all the pieces of the puzzle were fitting together and I knew everything I had to do in real life to achieve that future ‘self’. I reached the entrance which is now the exit and stopped just before I stepped out. I took a moment to do just a little breathing and take in this most enlightening experience and then I stepped out of the labyrinth and at that moment I was overwhelmed. I could not believe what I just experienced. Did that really just happen?
    So I got to experience a mind without that pesky monkey and that, to me, was verification that the monkey doesn’t always have to be there and of course the labyrinth will not always be there. But now that I know a process of removing the monkey I could do it anywhere as long as I push myself to actually do it and not wait for the right moment. Which seems to be one of my biggest problems with achievement in life. I don’t push myself enough but that would be a whole other story which I would be happy to share at another time 😀

    Melissa, I love what you do and this would only be a reminder because I’ve told you so many times before but you are on the top of the list of my biggest inspirations! Safe travels, good health, joy and a mind free of monkeys to you my friend 😀


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