A day in my life at the Vipassana Meditation Retreat
Wake up at 4am
I woke up at just after 4 am. It was a struggle this time. My whole body hurt and my night sleep was interrupted by pain, anticipation for the new day and dreams of different kind. I wandered down the hall at 4.30am and meditated for almost an hour between 4.45 – 5.40am. Well done! I continued meditating for 30mins but the last hour was a real squeeze through a tight door.
1st Meditaion Sitting Among the many monkey mind thoughts I had during mediation, one of them was to leave the mediation room at least 30mins earlier so that I could get ready for breakfast and sneak a little nap of 15mins in my blissful morning so far. The universe however had other plans for me. When I was about to pick up my heels and leave the room our course teacher came in and started playing a recording of guru Goenka. I felt it was impolite to leave the room during this time and so I remained. This provoked strong feelings of impatience, irritation and tightness in the chest. I left before the recording finished playing at 5.45am. Personal note* “I love you and well done for sticking it out so long”.
After a delicious breakfast of deep black grapes, 4 slices of toasted bread – “the bread is really good here” – with peanut butter and jam, my energy tank was topped up nicely. Note* I want to change my morning breakfast habits. As from tomorrow, we (baby and I) are narrowing down bread consumption to 1 slice in the morning and 2 slices in the evening. Peanut butter toppings are restricted to evenings from now on.
First Compulsory Group Meditation
After breakfast we had our first group meditation of the day between 8am and 9am. My eyes slumbered in the dark and my spirit half left me. It is safe to say I was exhausted and sleep deprived. After the hour long meditation we were granted 15mins break before another group sitting.
I never showed up for that second sitting. When I arrived in my room my body plummeted on the bed and I was out. At some point while I was enjoying the sweet taste of inactivity the female manager barged in my room to see if I was alright. I reassured her that all was OK and reignited my sleep candle. 2 hours straight until lunch time I slept. Very much needed and my sleep tank was full at 11am when the lunch bell was sounded.
Lunch was a delicious feast of brown rice, lentils, sweet potato mash and some green cooked vegetables with something that looked like tofu but wasn’t. After close scrutiny of the foreign food object on my tongue, it was declared ‘delicious’!
Once lunch was finished I sat in the beautiful nature surroundings and thought about different things. I was entertained by distant mountains, blue lakes, a rich blue blanket of sky and leaves dancing from side to side.
- When we act according to universal law (the law of nature) our lives will become like a beautiful symphony. I contemplated about the present events in my life and I can see evidence of this fact everywhere I look. I feel happy and content each day because I say “thank you” multiple times during the day for any circumstance be it challenging or pleasant. My income is increasing rapidly and I know that tithing and creating a love account have contributed to that fact. My relationships with family and friends are wholesome because I use the love account method to keep the tank full. My aptitude to express myself has also improved immensely because I read habitually. This has also clothed me with so much more confidence. Even here at the center I am breaking a fundamental rule. The rule of avoiding any kind of stimulation. As you can tell from the pages in this book I am jotting down my thoughts of the day. But it’s medicine to my soul.
- Life is simple why do we make it difficult? Trust in the universe/God, follow universal law, live with authenticity and embrace challenging times in your life with open arms. Life wants to teach you another lesson.
- Self-love is key to living a rich and happy life. When the bellowing sounds of blame, shame and doubt sit at their stations remember to always listen to your inner voice of compassion and forgiveness. It is the true voice. It is your voice of love. Always carry it with you wherever you go. The bellowing sounds are nothing but lies we have accumulated throughout our lives.
Exercise at the retreat
When the bell rang for the afternoon meditation at 1pm I participated in the hall for about 20mins and then went to my room to do some body conditioning exercises. It was not a compulsory group sitting so I used the time to meditate while stretching and toning my body. I felt akin to a new person afterwards. I intend to do this every second day during my time here. By the way, no yoga classes were offered at the center. I know of other Vipassana centers that incorporate yoga into the daily routine.
The afternoon group session at 2.30pm was effortless, calm and enjoyable. There is a group discourse every night between 7pm and 8.15pm. Guru Goenka shares his wisdom about the Vipassana practice and living a wholesome life. In last night’s discourse he underscored the importance of observing the breath. He said that visualization and repeating a word continuously, any word you like, can help you observe your breath for longer periods of time. Today, in the afternoon and evening group session I repeatedly voiced the phrase “the breath is the gateway to the soul”.
The final meditation of the evening before the discourse was almost pain free but my mind was not as determined to hold focus as the previous sessions. But that is OK! Self-love always!
Guru Goenka’s teachings in the discourse:
- The mind can be compared to a monkey jumping from branch to branch. Skipping from past to future, so eager to escape the present moment. The mind can also be compared to a wild beast that hasn’t been tame yet. It can do much harm when it is left to its own devices, wild and uncontrolled. When we become master over it, it can become a light and refuge to many, including oneself.
- When one first start Vipassana meditation it is useful to focus on the area of the nostrils and upper lips. Observe everything that happens in that area. Even the subtlest sensations like an itch, a tingle and warm air escaping the nostrils after cooler air enters. Noticing these subtleties will help the mind to become sharper and more self-aware.
- Everyone has to walk their own path to self-liberation. No one can walk the part for you. Illustration: When you want to know the way to another town. Someone can explain the trip to you but not until you have experienced the journey yourself do you really know how to get there. It is similar with the path to salvation. To truly know thyself means to go deep, to walk the path of self-discovery yourself to enlightenment.
- Sin means engaging in any thought or action (direct or indirect) that harms other beings. When we sin we break the natural laws of the universe and we pay the price there and then. When we live a wholesome life we get rewarded a thousand fold.