Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave. -Unknown
Sometimes when I am having a hard time coming up with post topics I will sit alone quietly with my eyes closed and just try to clear my mind. After about fifteen minutes something always pops into my head, something I know I can write about.
Meditation. I like the idea of meditation but I have a hard time making it a habit. I tend to do it now and then like when I’m stuck for a post idea, but I have yet to make it an everyday practice. I’m not sure why this is because I actually enjoy it when I do meditate and feel better for it. I guess it’s the idea of sitting still and not “doing” anything that makes me uncomfortable. The first few minutes of trying to still my mind consist of dismissing the “I should be doing __ right now” thoughts.
About seventeen years ago I came across a flyer for Vipassana meditation being offered in Washington state.
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit.
For whatever reason, I never ended up making the trip to the Washington Vipassana center.
Recently I have come across the practice again…and again. First I was watching a podcast on the Oprah’s Soul Series featuring Jenny Phillips a cultural anthropologist, writer and practicing psychotherapist whose documentary film The Dhamma Brothers tells the story of a group of prison inmates participating in Vipassana meditation. I was so intrigued I had to buy the documentary to watch it for myself. The movie is fascinating. I find it spooky interesting that the meditation practice has found its way back into my consciousness.
Last night I was at a backyard party with some neighbours when I had a conversation with one fellow who happens to have been practicing Vipassana for the past four years. There it is again! I’m thinking something is trying to tell me to try it.
The practice is a little daunting for someone who is not much of a meditater to start with. It consists of a ten day course where there are some rules:
1. All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited. Sounds tough but I think I could do it as long as Tracy didn’t come with me.
2. Students are kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals provided. This one definitely scares me a little. I can be dangerous cranky when I don’t get enough food.
3. No outside communications is allowed before the course ends. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors. Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices must be deposited with the management until the course ends. To be honest, I think this would be great.
4. The playing of musical instruments, radios, etc. is not permitted. No reading or writing materials should be brought to the course. Students should not distract themselves by taking notes. Seriously? No reading even? This one will be really tough.
Still, I continue to feel drawn to trying it one day. Notice I say “one day” so as not to commit entirely yet. If When I do, I promise to write a post on the experience.