a personal story of 10 days of silence
I really liked the 'Noble silence' I was taught at Vipanassa meditation recently. What a treat! A real luxury these days considering the world we live in. Especially when you put 30 women together!!
In French we say; "le silence est d'or" translated as "silence is gold". The location was amazing, a beautiful ashram in Kintamani facing Gunung Agung, Bali's most sacred mountain. The nature was incredibly beautiful with all kinds of trees, fruits and plants. And many different shades of green and blue.
I really enjoyed the very simple life of plain food and no distractions. It reminded me of the life at sea, a simple life with a lot of time for contemplation.
Now for the tough part...the first few days I felt like I was being punished for my ignorance. And what a monkey mind I learned I have! I felt like a prisoner of my own mind and for me, that was very challenging. I felt frustrated and stuck there at first, trying to find excuses to leave. But I stayed because I knew it was my resistance and ego playing tricks on me. The Goenka chanting was not my taste at all and I found it difficult to listen to every day.
The back pain I felt the first few days was hard and so was getting up at 4am to meditate. Why do it so early when all you're going to do all day is meditate? Some of the women had obviously spent a lot of time in India and back and hadn't washed since then, my ignorant resistance again. My impatience struck like lightening and I was being reminded every day of how impatient I am. Learning curve. Lifetime sentence.
Developing a spiritual practice is not easy. I was trying to find a way out of it. On day 3, I found a ball pen and it was calling my name out loud (I swear). I borrowed it for the week and wrote a little. But I learned a lot about myself and I really enjoyed the evening discourse by Goenka. The technique makes sense, to observe breathing and bodily sensations and maintain equanimity. Free from cravings and aversions. And to see reality as it is, not as I would like it to be. End the misery.
I got very creative as well, with loads of ideas for new collages and work projects. It was fascinating to observe the mind and how it operates. Eye in the sky looking at me. What I found painful is the un-learning! Everything we've been told in the West about happiness (job, career, success) seems to be painful. We're obsessed with security, pension, retirement and money instead of living in the present, which is 'The art of living' as Goenka says. Missing the present makes us very unhappy. We're raised and trained to perform and being here in this place, all there is to do is just BE, and observe what is with nowhere to go. To Just BE.
As Leonard Cohen puts it, "There is a crack in everything and that's how the light gets in." Well, some light did get in and I will try to maintain a daily practice at home. That's all for now. There is a wave to surf, a friend to cheer up, a collage to finish, a job to do, a red wine to drink, a French cheese to eat, a yoga class to attend, a new person to meet, another wave to surf, a song to dance to, a heart to mend, a sunset to watch, a Balinese teen to teach French to, and an 80's party playlist to prepare. Doing all of the above mindfully of course! Go placidly amidst the haste and noise and remember what peace there may be in silence.