Day 4 (19/04/2015)
Impermanence is one of the most important Buddhist teachings and one that must be fully understood and accepted in order to fully understand life. Nothing is permanent and the sooner you understand its meaning and accept this, you will be able to live a life filled with less expectation from anything and anyone. This is the greatest lesson learnt along with Vipassana on the 4th day. Besides we had learnt the prerequisites to Vipassana in the last three days and will continue to do so till 2.30 pm today.
Today we started the 4.30 am meditation with our focus on a smaller area, the small triangular one just below the nostrils and the upper lip. The smaller the focus, the sharper the mind becomes and thus it becomes ripe enough to absorb Vipassana. Focus was difficult and trying. The mind would ramble and behave like a child in tantrums, and had to be brought under control with utmost perseverance and in between all that one had to observe with equanimity the sensations that arise in the chosen area. Gradually there was some semblance of order. Now I know why we were forced to be completely cut off from the outside world. It did make things easier.
At lunch time I discovered that the foreigner in my room had left, unable to manage the strict code of conduct. Anyone leaving the course midway leaves makes the weak minded long to drop everything like a hot brick and move on. Thankfully I felt otherwise – happy to stay on course for it gave me an opportunity to tell my mind, hey there, I am the boss and not you. 🙂
By the time the 3.00 pm session started everyone were eager to go through the Vipassana session, waiting with bated breath. The instructions were from Acharya Goenka, vide a recorded CD. We were to move our attention from the top of our head and observe sensations. Then we were to focus on each and every part by part and observe objectively and with equanimity the sensations. The top of the head, the scalp, the shoulders and down to the right arm and then the left arm, neck, trunk, pelvic region, right leg up to the foot followed by the left foot was the order. After this the focus was directed to the nape, back, spine, back pelvic region, and the back side of the legs up to the toes. Irrespective of what the sensations are – pleasant or unpleasant – we were to accept the reality moment to moment.
When we started the practice, at first there were sensations in some parts of the body. In some places there were none whatsoever. It also became clear that we experienced easily the intense sensations and not the finer, subtle ones. That came with practice. The most challenging aspect for me was sitting in the same position for two hours continuously – for we were asked to try not to move during the Vipassana time – 3.00 – 5.00 pm. I must say that I was not able to comply with this, thanks to the nagging knee pain as I had been sitting cross-legged all the three days. After the Vipassana experience we had another session from 6 – 7 pm in the evening, a group Vipassana meditation. During such group sessions everyday (four sessions – 8-9 am, 2.30 – 3.30 pm, 6.00 – 7.00 pm and 8.15 – 9.00 pm) we were told to stay motionless. With a nagging knee pain I decided that during the question hour from 9.00 – 9.30 pm I would ask the teacher if I could sit in a chair. The teacher was quick to dissuade me but I told him that I do have a back / knee problem and as he unwillingly relented, there was a sigh of relief in me.
Before hitting the bed I gently applied an analgesic gel on the painful areas hoping and praying it would go away as I wake up in the dawn. But sleep eluded and that worried me. What if I don’t have enough sleep and droop while meditating? After considerable tossing and turning when I drifted into slumber it was way past midnight.
(To be continued)