22 days of vipassana are over and I am writing to let you know that I’m staying on as long as the weather and mosquitoes will allow. I’m hoping to complete a 90 days (or maybe even a longer) retreat which means staying in Lumbini till the end of May. Yet, it is expected to be extremely hot here during the month of May and Nepal has a 16 hours power cut every day which means that although the center has fans we most of the time won’t be able to use them to cool ourselves. That may be a serious constraint. Nonetheless, having a vipassana momentum right now I may be able to cross that hindrance.
As for the retreat itself, the first week was difficult but since then it is becoming easier and time is passing in a completely new dimension which I cannot explain in words.
As for my daily schedule, we wake up at 4:00 am to the sound of a wooden bell of the monastery and the countless other bells of all the monasteries around the Lumbini sacred garden. At 04:30 we begin our first sitting practice. We have breakfast at 06:00 and then continue to alternate between sitting and walking meditation until 11:00. We usually see our teachers for a ten minutes interview at one point during the morning. During the interview we describe the meditative experiences of the former day and receive further instructions for inquiry and practice. At 11:o0 we have lunch which is the last meal of the day. We continue to meditated between 12:00-17:30. Then at 17:30 we have a life or recorder Dhamma talk which basically address practice related topics. At 19:o0 we chant loving kindness blessings than we have some juice, tea and candies. We continue to meditate until 22:00 or further. Some of us maintain awareness momentum and continue with sleep and dream consciousness.
We train ourselves to be mindful in each and every situation. we are asked to pay attention to every movement, every thought and every intention we have. In order to do so we need to slow down significantly. There are 30 of us here, all of us move in unbelievable slow speed. Mindful of every little movement. We have no gaps in practice. It means that we meditate all day long: sitting, walking, standing, lying down, eating. brushing our teeth, taking a shower and any other conceivable action. We are asked to maintain noble silence, and in the context of retreat is almost complete silence, except during interview with our teachers. We are also asked to restrain our senses in order to raise our concentration and focus more and more on the meditation process itself. It also means we completely avoid eye contact with each other.
I realize it all sound awful and I know you must think I’m crazy for doing it for a long period of time. A long retreat is nothing like a short ten days retreat and for me, despite my previous fears and worries, its apparently much better. I actually have time to experience the different states of mind and remain in them until they go away naturally without “pushing” to get to some mental condition. This slow pace yields new phenomena for me and results in more calmness and softness which allows me to be simultaneously patient and energetic. The mediators among you may understand what I mean.
For the non mediators, I assure you that I am having some profound experiences here and this is probably the most interesting experience/experiment I have ever undergone in my life.
I am keeping a diary and write down some of my physical, mental andemotional experiences as to keep a track on my meditation progress. My teachers are mostly interested in the technical dimensions of th actual movement of the breath whereas I am mostly interested in my mental/emotional developments and changes.
I will not say much more – just that in three weeks of nothing externally happening I have “killed” and for a while was convinced that some of you are seriously ill, I came up with completely imaginary incidents that made me very angry, experienced compassion with a capital C, sincerely apologized to a spider for accidently bumping into it’s net, floated in space in bliss and happiness and for a few days I was one hundred percent positive that I have developed psychic powers.
The good thing is that I understand. I truly understand how I fall for my stories and how much I believe the nonsense I tell myself. Yet, I only begin to master the mind. I’m really curious to see what happens to the mind after three months. The other day I was walking around the compound (in an average speed of 25 meters per hour) thinking I will one day publish my vipassana diary and call it “shameless mind”.
Break Up With Daniel
Finally, it’s been almost a month that nothing much has been happening in my “external life” so to say, except one (significant) update for those of you following my travels and emails: Me and Daniel, my boyfriend and travel companion for the past few months, separated just over one month ago. Although we parted ways on good terms, it was heart breaking and I am still grieving his absence from my life. I grew so used to his presence as for months I literally haven’t spent as much as a single hour without him so him physically disappearing was primarily shocking. When we parted at Bangalore airport I had to tell myself over and over again “he is not coming back” “he is not coming back” because on a deep level I couldn’t believe he is really not coming back.
But, life goes on. Daniel is back in Wales having a new job, a new home and a new car. And me, I have finally pushed the “reset” button on my previous life. I’m sat on the floor for many hours every day, watching my abdomens rising and falling, purifying my mind, detoxifying my body and patiently getting ready for the stage of eternal bliss and the cessation of suffering. And if that doesn’t come at least I hope I’ll be a calmer, more equanemous, more patient and more compassionate human being.