Morning wakeup call at 4 A.M., last meal of the day at 5 P.M., complete ‘Noble Silence’ (No talking, No gesturing, No writing, No reading, No NOTHING!), jail-like rooms to stay in, 10 hours of meditation a day in a hall full of 100 complete strangers, make that 100 silent strangers! Not exactly a picture that would scream ‘Gratitude’… Awe? Yes! But Gratitude?
Feeling a bit like Julia Roberts from ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – The Movie (or Elizabeth Gilbert from the book, if you please) I made it to DhammaThali, the Jaipur Vipassana Center, full of excitement for the journey ahead.
It didn’t take long for the excitement to fizzle out as it collided with the harsh reality of my ‘room’. ‘Servant’s Quarter’, as my hubby aptly declared – ‘Are you sure you want to stay here for 10 days?’
‘No!’ screamed every part of my being, but my dogged stubbornness or my stubborn doggedness (ask hubby for more details!) held me in good stead and I heard myself answer a rather subdued ‘Yes!’
Hubby’s eyebrows shot up, but he wisely refrained from wisecracks.
So the deal was sealed! He left. I panicked. Then steeled myself for the inevitable. Broom in hand, I swept the webs and swatted the spiders- no Buddha could convince me to co-exist in harmony with them! Room and bathroom cleaned and ‘dettol- ed’ I settled down with a prayer on my lips- After all, I could go through anything for 10 days… It wasn’t that big a deal, was it?
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Vipassana (pronounced Vee-pash-yana) means to see things as they really are – not as they appear to be. Ever since we open our eyes, after birth, we look outside. In doing so, we forget to how to look inside. Vipassana allows us to look inwards and to eliminate the 3 causes of unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance.
So far so good, but was it really just a day gone by? It seemed like forever!
Einstein had it bang on when he wrote about the relativity of time – it flies when you are having fun and crawls when you are not!
Here, time didn’t just crawl, it simply stopped!
Moments, minutes, hours, days – nothing could be counted as they were in the world outside. This timelessness was unreal, or maybe, too real…
There was so much awareness of each moment that it lasted for an eternity.
The journey had just begun… Every day was a challenge, with my emotions vacillating between euphoria and escape and everything in between! I hung on, but barely so…
It was hands down, by far, the hardest, most intense 10 days of my life! I never realized that it was so tough to live with our own self without the myriad distractions that we amuse ourselves with! But it was only when I stripped down my soul to its very basics that my innermost thoughts, fears, desire, hopes, wants came tumbling out… It was as if I was seeing the world with new eyes, it was as if I saw myself for the first time!
About the Author: Archana Saboo is a businesswoman, a freelance writer, a painter and an avid traveller. She lives in the ‘Pink City’ of India, Jaipur. She can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/archana.saboo