You are not travel alone until you experience 10 days silence meditation.
Published on July 15th 2014 at CURIOSIFY
It has been almost 3 months since I return from the a 10 day Vipassana meditation course in Kuantan, Malaysia. It was a lonely trip full of companion. A kind of journey you would love to add in your bucket list.
Firstly, let’s have a quick look at the course and Vipassana technique:
1. This is a 10 days course, but you can leave the center at anytime.
2. There’s no communication with the outside world (no phone, laptop, mp3 or writing material)
3. Noble silence is required and that means any form of conversation between students are not allowed (even eye contact!)
4. Everyday routine starts at 4am to 9.30pm with 8 to 10 hours of meditating.
5. Meals are simple vegetarian breakfast and lunch. There’s tea time instead of dinner for new student.
6. Our meals are prepared by the kind hearted old students. I was so surprised to know there are people volunteered to spend their time and come here to serve other strangers.
7. The school runs purely by donation. Only those who could complete the course are allowed to donate after the 10th day.
FIY: I had no paper or pens for 10 days. After I left the center, I bought a pack of tissue and a pen at bus station. And I started to draw and keep drawing on the bus ride from Kuantan to Singapore. Drawing on a moving vehicle is not very pleasant trust me. Anyway, I managed to get all these illustration done!! Yay!!
Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are”. It helps us observe reality, realize and release ourself from craving, the source of our own misery. By seeing this whole uncensored truth, we find our own way to be happy, to live a good life. Vipasanna is believed to be the most original technique discovered by Buddha. There are certain Buddhist theory aspect in Vipassana, but you don’t need to completely accept them to practice. Vipasanna welcomes any religion followers. Well at the end of the days, every religions all teach us the same thing, how to live and how to die, don’t they?
There are many branch and style of meditation. Most of them use a secondary element as your focus point. And by thinking about these elements, your mind get concentrated and released from your current stage. They can be a form, a shape, a sound, a movement or controlling your breath. Vipasanna, on the other hand, wants us observe our sensation and “see the reality”. Observing your breath is just the beginning of the journey. You will be surprised how little we know about our own body and mind.
First thing first! Meditation is real hard work!!! The popular idea that meditation is a kind of inactivity or relaxation is a big lie. My first 5 days was hell! Meditation was a painful physical torture. There were times I wish I could chop my legs off or go straight home. And there were times I questions what the hell I was doing here. It was not easy to leave every worries behind and stop my mind from thinking without falling asleep. I quickly see how weak, how disconnected and wandering my mind has always been.
But once I achieve a certain understanding of Vipasanna technique, the result is hard to describe. Prior to this trip, I was having a sort of “mid-twenty crisis”. There are certain questions that the only person can answer is my own. Between meditation sessions, I let my mind runs while, perhaps I was too tired of constraining. At the 7th day, I started to apply “seeing things as they really are” on my thoughts. It was a surgery process deep in my own mind to find the sense of self again. Every knots are untangled and became crystal clear.
It was the first time I can “hear” my body. My mom has always telling me to listen to my body when comes to decide what to eat, that food has “heat”. But I don’t see any difference between kinds of foods, nor feel the “heat”. On the 7th day, I finally feel curry is “hotter” than cabbage soup, or hot tea is “cooler” than cold milo. And I discovered some muscle I didn’t even know it exist on my body.
Pain, there were lots of pain, both mental and physical. There were times I wish I can chop my legs off. There were drowsiness, agitation and fucking-wandering mind. But if you perseved, you will be successful. By the 7th day, there was sort of vibe run from my head to toe. Finally, I “made it”!
10 days separated from the modern human civilization is definitely a lifetime experience. For 10 days, I was living based on other’s compassion and kindness. We took off our status, our pride, our daily weight and live a monk humble life. I was surrounded by warm hearted former students. They volunteered to take care of me and other new students.
It’s a lonely journey but I’m not alone at all.
The entire school runs by donation, and only those who has completed the 10 days course could donate. I was living completely base on the human kindness. On the last day, we bursted out and talk like we have know each other for months. You will be surprised by the people that you meet and why they are here. When they knew I need to get to bus station, three of them offered me a ride. I did not know any of them, nor talk to them. But at the end of the course, we had became friends. Because the language of friendship is not words but kindness.
The center is located in a palm plantation apart from Kuantan town. Living in the middle of this farm, I’m not surprised when these “fellows” visit me. Please don’t be scared, most of students dont even know about them. Only a curious sponge who paid too much observation to surrounding can notice them (lol)
My teacher advised us to practice one hour in the morning and one hour at night. Practicing meditation helps me sleep well, calms my temper and improves productivity. But I must confess i can only manage to meditate 30 to 60 mins either morning or night everyday. Weekend is the only time i have 2 luxury hours for meditate. We are all packed by our busy life aren’t we? But I will come back to serve the new student soon. I’ve received so much from many anonymous people, it’s my turn to give back.
Pior to the trip, some of my friends was worried I would be brainwashed, kidnapped or engage with dark magic. Well, the course did not get me in touch with any supernatural power or anything of that kind (though I would love to try!). Instead, it showed some possible explanation, time and space to solve my own problems. Vipasanna is an “art of living”, do everyone of us perceive the same way of living? How do we differentiate between seeking for positivity and craving for pleasure? What is harmony? How do we evaluate our definition of “balance”? Is sensation awareness enough?…
Originally published at quinnyvu.com.