Vipassana. “What the heck is that?”
To be honest until my 4th day at my meditation course I was pretty unsure myself exactly what it was. But, in the grandest sense, it is a meditative technique that helps you alleviate the way that misery has taken over your life and prohibits you from truly being happy. The basic precept is that we hang on to our miserable moments, crochet them into our existence — our mind/body, soul, wtfever — and they take over and become the filter through which we live. This is because only we can make our selves miserable. No person, experience, or object can make us miserable. The way we react to said person, experience, or object is what makes us miserable. But the origin of the misery begins with and belongs to us. And once it owns us, it directs us.
Okay, that is about the most pedestrian way of describing the Vipassana process, as it has quite a bit more too it, and if you are interested the wikipedia page provides a far more detailed description — something I wish I would have read before I went to the course — than I am capable of giving, as I am still struggling with putting it to words.
By day four I was so ready to no longer focus on breathing, or at least add more to it, that when it was time to sit for two hours and learn the basic technique, I was nearly ready to jump for joy. Now please note, that I am a skeptics’ skeptic, but the following is totally what I felt and life has been fairly different, much better, ever since.
Vipassana helps you feel the present and step out of out of looking forwards or backwards. It does this by helping you focus on the sensations, bio-electricity, on/in your body. Things that are always there, but things most of us are too busy to notice: the slightest cool breeze, the dream of a formation of perspiration, static electricity, light and shadow, etc etc… And let me tell you, it takes an incredible amount of work to get to feel these sensations, to notice what is there. But the work is worth it in every way.
As soon as the instructions began and I was able to focus on my breath and tune my mind out I understood the need for such focus of the prior 3 days. All of a sudden i finally felt now, this exact moment – not the hope for it nor the memory of it, for quite possibly the 1st time. Ever. I also found that meditative place I had heard so many talk about for so many years. It was so intense and emotionally charged that I was weeping at the end of the session. While it was not total transcendence, it was pretty damn close. I am sure many will think I was smoking seeds and stems, but I literally felt a space on the top of my head open and what I can only describe as a flame come out which I slowly directed around my body feeling every sensation that life helps us to forget.
This is Vipassana. Becoming one with now and experiencing all it has to offer. No, experiencing is the wrong word. It suggests lingering and that is the furthest thing one does. It is more acknowledging now, the sensations, and move on. The present being so vital to the process. Again, I am just providing you with the briefest and narrow of descriptions, as there is far more too it — actual science too, but again it is just too new and overwhelming for me to craft into those words.
And well I came out of this session no less than transformed. Well that maybe a bit of hyperbole as I am still the same guy I was, I just have a new technique to help me deal with the excavation of misery that has prohibited me from being properly buoyant. I came out married to the technique. I knew here that I would hold tight to this and not let go. I knew I was going to be a long time adopter of Vipassana.
And this means my life is about to start an ice age style shift. For as far back as I can remember I have been pretty much the most miserable person I know. Some people always just assumed I was depressed, and occasionally I was, but It was more of me wearing an amazing technicolor misery coat that I intricately wove out of my daily life from as far back as when I was say three. I realized that I must have acres if not hectares of these miserable moments stitched into my body inhibiting me from experiencing true joy and from being a truly productive member of society. But now I have keys to open new locks and leave all this damn misery behind.
I can not really even talk about how scary this is, being someone who has damn near defined my entire life though misery, I am going to have to find new focal points to highlight. I am sure I will fight this as I change. My misery has become nearly like Linus’s blanket I think. It will be hard to give it up. But damn it, it is killing me as much if not more than my kidneys. And I will have none of that.
So yes, on day four all my worries and wondering about the course went away, as I kept finding myself agreeing with all the other basic precepts of Vipassana, as it has a crisp clean rational element that is extremely hard to refute. I was also constantly surprised that there did not seem to be much religious dogma creeping into the teaching at all. There was the incessant chanting in Poli, the language Buddha used, that I clearly could do without as much today, and thankfully get to…, as I could have on the 1st day of training. And it sort of felt like an indoctrination into something as they did not provide translations of what was being said. But it was easy to just ignore. Well after I spent a few days riling myself up fighting it, which was really just me pushing back at the unknown. I found this an easy area to fight the technique, as it seems I went in looking for faults, as I am wont to do. But after we shifted to pure Vipassana meditation I learned to just ignore the chanting and focus on the benefits I could gain and was gaining from the technique.
And there are many. Tomorrow I will start to go over those.