Below is the recorded journey of my 10 days Vipassana meditation course to my best knowledge. Well because there are no writing materials allowed as we're all transcended to a state of absolute mental isolation it's pretty hard to keep these things together. It's still a 10 day worth of log so it's going to be very long.
Why I attended it?
well, I'm currently writing my life of eat, pray, love and I figured I would probably have to do something epic, to make life more interesting.
Kidding. Life already is and I am sort of into meditation, always like peace, but never know how to do it. I'd heard about Vipassana meditation from the friends and net but I'm pretty much hesitant at first. 9 days of silence, 10 days of vegan, rid of all your communication and recreational device while you do nothing but meditate. 11 hours a day. Pretty intense isn't it? But after my final papers, I guess I'm just ready for a new experience and see where it takes me.
And I actually wrote a whole load of word vomit on my "Why", you can click here if you want to read about it.
I arrived at the pier earlier than I expected. I decided to take the journey alone as... all epic journey begins with one and one alone. Meeting all sorts of people.
I didn't know I could mingle, I really didn't. I'm an INFJ if you have to know and I'm surprised at myself by evening saying things like "hey guys, don't mind if I stand/hang around". There's nothing but awkwardness around the whole bunk and some people are just pacing, most of them sleeping. I exchanged handshakes with my "neighbours" and we exchanged stories.
At around 6 pm we were ushered to the canteen for our first meal, dinner. Or only dinner in my course of the 10 days. After that, we were chilling for the last time before being sent to the hall, where we watched a clip from the late S.N. Goenka before it all begins.
It was really were but "cool" at the same time how everyone could dive into it just like that. Us just going through the whole thing, surrendering our phones, getting packed in. We're getting brief on where we sleep, eat, (and we are advised not to shift around or change our positions), everything is marked out so there is 0 decision fatigue. We are to spend our mental energy thinking and letting things pass us by.
DAY 1: People I'd Love
Day one is pretty much numb to me
With the experience of the field camp and BMT's confinement period under my belt, Day 1 is actually pretty okay.
With the vow of silence that took place last night, everyone is really discipline. Doing their own things, maintaining no form of physical/verbal communication, we're out about our own thing, and of course, meditation.
It's at night where people who mean the most surfaced. Mainly my parents, my families, Pots and also Adel (sorry I was with you back then so... naturally I'll think of you bao). I'd pretty much constructed a mini mind palace of people/place to visit for my distraction.
DAY 2: Anger/Evil
A rather huge change in my thinking and attitude, I was heading in the opposite direction compared to yesterday. I was writing in my head too, about the types of funny people that you'll meet in Vipassana Meditation (Don't know if I'll be able to write it, but it is very funny and judgemental in my head). Like there's this guy who meditates like an "Ah Beng" (hooligan) sitting on a curb. I didn't know you can meditate like that though. Another one was darting around, looking at the time, the one in front of me is constantly sighing at the whole tiredness of it all, even though we are just made to sit. Afew seat at the side is the guy who decides to stack the meditation block up like a mini stool; very creative and funny there.
I thought about a lot of random funny stuff, and I'm pretty perverse as I extract exotic humour from people's misfortune. Fan of dark comedy here so......
I also felt some anger, which was unexplained, followed by a strange vision, which I am still not sure what is that as of today.
DAY 3: GUILT
I realize I have this tendency to overthink as well. And after thinking, I'd decided to think things through instead.
It's weird day however as I'm thinking through about a lot of things. And it's definitely harder to record down because it's snippets of here and there, then and now. And not being able to record certainly makes it so hard to write down things.
I was guilty of so many things, of overthinking, and how my overthinking have caused myself and others to suffer. My overthinking because of my lack of trust hurt me and my girlfriend because I'm unable to love again. My overthinking cause me to have anxiety and give up easy. My overthinking makes my family worries for me because I'll never leave my comfort zone (or so I believe)
DAY 4: HEALTH
It's one hell of a day for me. Probably my lowest point. At midday, I felt like dying.
Dying. Sweat formed whenever I think, then my overthinking went on a constant loop. I tried to breathe, breathe, breathe and I realized I can't and I started panicking. It was my first BAD anxiety attack.
I can't breathe feel like vomiting and I can feel my throat getting constricted like I'm being constricted by a snake. I could felt the airway getting smaller and smaller as I grasp for breath. I put my head against the window stills and tried to breathe.
My ruckus might have caused several students to eyeball me as my teacher looked at me, worried, yet oblivious and letting me have my process. After which one of the guidance officer gestured me to take a walk and told me that the teacher wishes to talk to me after debriefing at night.
I walked about before retreating to the room. I lay on my bed and got up when the guidance officer asked if I'm okay. I started talking a bit, describing my anxiety and everything, and I strangely felt better after talking
I went to see my teacher, who thought me this technique to "disinfect" myself. How I should focus on my palm, from left to right, then the sole of my feet, then do it in circles. I should let my body do its thing while the impurities release. He asked me to only ask him why tomorrow, and not question it.
He said I'm too curious, "when I was struck by an arrow, why was I so concern with where the arrow is from instead of how do I tend to my wound?". He said I worried about the wrong things.
DAY 5: PURGE
Aside from the breathlessness, I felt really good in the morning. My body clock have altered itself to fit the meditation schedule. I also noticed that my body clock is REALLY punctual. My bowel schedule comes exactly at 6.30 AM (The feels come at around 6.28-6.29). It is incredible how my body react and it is like that throughout the rest of the meditation retreat.
So today I finally get to ask my teacher about why it happened yesterday.
"You sure I'm doing it right teacher?"
"Yes I'm sure of it. 100%"
"Then why is it so torturous for me?"
I wasn't expecting rainbows, or floating confetti. But breathlessness is the last thing that would come to my mind. I still can't wrap myself around the fact that it happens because I'm doing it right.
The teacher then explains to me about "Sankara" (sorry I don't know how to spell it), about how our body has them, similar to karma, it can be good or bad. And in Vipassana Meditation, it is believed that when we meditate, the bad Sankara would be purged out of our body.
Meanwhile, I'm purging while going crazy.
I started singing out loud. Yes, LOL it is really funny to actually say it but I did. I have my own shower concert except I'm doing it in the forest and there are not animals dancing with me like a Disney movie. I also started talking to nature, mostly trees, birds and insects.
The day turns out alright for me. But the contrast is really big as I'm feeling golden today. Fine as fuck and, yea. No discomfort.
DAY 6: Sankara and Vision
I thought it's over, but the whole episode happened again. It's like a classic sequel to day 4.
My throat contracts, urge to vomit surface and I find it hard to concentrate or think.
I had a random though, as they say, when Toh suicide or had bad karma in your past life, things resurfsce usualky isnt something good.
my previous life might killed off himself by hanging.
^i had this vision in day 2 though. But im not shre whk it is or
I'm getting attached to myself yesterday.
But shit happens again.
Shit I tell myself;
"my past life must be a very bad person"
"my next life better thank me for clearing up this shit man"
"This shit can take leave one ah, alternate day come"
I'm feeling much better after weekday, and I tried whistling at bird to see if they'll come down.
Nope. They didn't.
DAY 7: Helplessness
I noticed the helplessness of life today. I started saving any form of life that I have found to be struggling. I started saving ants; we would always wash our dishes by the drain, and sometimes the leftovers would accidentally lure some ants over. And since it is a washing area, there are many unavoidable deaths. I decided to save them using some leaves. I also saved a beetle when I saw it on its back, this huge gigantic beetle can't turn itself back up, and it felt like such a poor thing.
It sounds strange, I started planting oranges and apple seeds all over the island (from the ones that was given to me). I was asked by my teacher who saw me walking around, finding a fertile soil, stepping on the group before digging with my bare hands.
"Do you think it can grow?"
"Well, if you ever see a random apple tree in St John Island, you'll know why!", I laughed and said, "Besides it also kills time".
My teacher smiled and laughed again, this time prasing my optimism and cheerfulness.
However, in the evening, the whole breathlessness come again. It felt like I'm shedding the 3rd layer of my Sankara, I could feel paranoia and doubts. And I spoke to my teacher at night after the meditation as he could notice the shift in my dynamic and mood compared to earlier to day. He asked to trust the process of Vipassana, and let it pass. I did... I did...
DAY 8: Compassion
This is the day I felt of compassion. I didn't particularly look for a theme everyday, but perhaps it is my subconscious that made me focus on an aspect of life to work on or about everyday.
And today... Compassion.
I'd been saving drowning ants for quite abit during my stay. I put in more effort to look for more insects who' needs saving this time around, walking around the compound, putting snails back into the grass (I hope they're not pissed), and so forth. I'm alittle more considerate as well as I'd been squeezing the water off my washed clothes over plants growing in the drain.
It takes a lot of positivity and mental strength to stay sane here. Though I'm talking to myself a lot more often. Dreaming about things. Things that I could do... Mainly... And things I want to do... I want to make the world a better place, and be happy (:
DAY 9: Gift
Today I learnt more about cravings and temptation. About how it bought us misery, and also the importance of living in the present. And hence the importance of living in the present. I also learnt that everything is a gift today, and we could always choose to "accept it", or not. And everything is a gift to us, be it good and bad, however we always have a choice to accept it, reject it and choose how we feel about it.
Spreading positivity is a thing as well.
And craving for success is necessary, however, addiction to it is not. So with this thin line in between, one must learn to lean on the right side. And we definitely could do with preference as well.
Applying the theory of the Sankara, illness sickness is a result of Sankara and karma too. And perhaps it is the vision of my suicide that made me felt like I'd got a lot of Sankara to purge in my this current life!
DAY 10: the Vow
The vow was broken in the morning, as we did our meditation. Lunch is served in a more grand gesture as we are bought together, being briefed and so forth. We didn't dare to speak at first when the vow is broken, it felt like a foreign thing to do. Ironically, it felt easier to not speak at all, but when the vow is broken, before we could speak, all of us looked at each other. It was during our meals so we looked at our "table mates". The guy whom I thought who's a typical wealthy and cocky guy who's wearing a huge ruby ring as large as the face of my swatch watch looked and me and perhaps gave me the warmest smile there is.
"COULD YOU BELIEVE I'D DONE IT? NO MEAT!, NO MEAT!"
He's from Dubai, and he came here specifically for this. And his colleagues from work are even having bets that he won't make it through. I'm glad I didn't let my first impression judge me, and even though I'm aware of my thoughts about him, I didn't act upon it and judge him. Is this how not judging a person feels like? Even if you have thoughts about him, you didn't let it affect how you see him.We all felt like best friends, all of us, even though it's for that one day. I'm writing with goosebumps as I recount all these memories. The backpacker from Argentina who came along with his trio of friend (one which looked like Adam Levine who left in day 3 and Thor who left at day 6), the 2 uncles who confess to me that they'd been whispering when no one's watching, the very very smart PhD who believes in past life regression, the "ah being" realtor who's here because his girlfriend kinda wants him him, and the list goes on. And my bunk mate, who travels for a living, selling tours!
It felt like this is the only day that we'll gather together, and this day would never be the same again, and so would us. I spent so much time talking, connecting with people. It was so much, the experience we shared was so unique and special and so is the connection. I enjoyed talking to the smart guy the most, when he joined us a little later at 10pm, before that we're just jostling, having heartful chatters which brings about laughter, but he bought us a lot of insights and knowledge, about how the scrolls and scriptures are halved, how the greeks influenced how we have sculptures today and so forth. He studied the Bible, the Quran and the Buddhism scriptures.
Time passes by and the group that we gathered shrink with time as we crept into midnight. Until it was only 3-5 of us, before we call it a day. I thanked him for sharing all this wonderful knowledge with us, because it certainly isn't easy to share such long stories as if we're all in a religious module.
DAY 11: Farewell
And then it was goodbye. I woke up a little earlier than I thought and I bought some of my bread out while walking by myself. After yesterday, I want to recharge, to gather my thoughts before leaving. I walked around the compound, and I'm the only guy who walked the furthest out there, across the giant chessboard, across the pavement, near the sea. I saw the sunlight filtering in with beautiful warm and cool hues that danced across the canopies beyond my reach. But that day, it reached for my heart and I felt it. The warmth that spread all over my body, as I felt the sensation that stroked my shoulders, down. I felt goodbye.
I felt a tinge of fear, to go back, to see everything again, to face everything again, to dance amongst the toxic goo that restricts my movement and kept me from being free. I fear the judgement, the hatred, the people who condemns what they couldn't understand or accept.
I meditated for abit, for one last time, and we prayed for the wellness for the world, to give good to everything, to be compassion. It was time to go. I was ready to go. It's so weird when I leave, as I felt myself keep looking back.
We boarded the ferry, and with each second, we get closer and closer to the bustling city. Noisy, Colorful. My first impression. Everything was so vivid and animated. The colours became so alive. I'm so glad that my cousin and my brother came to pick me up, they are my everything, I love them. I want to tried explaining to them the beauty of it all, and I opened my mouth and felt no words came out, and I smiled at them and said, "the world is a beautiful place".
I am now forever aware of my breathe, of the lessons that are taught to me. About life's impermanence about how we shouldn't be attached to things, regardless of their nature. I find it hard to write down all of my thoughts and feelings, it's even harder to say it when I'm talking to my friends and relatives.
We were all living in the now, and when it pass, it's really hard to express or experience it. Writing and describing could come close, but it's still nevertheless hard to describe the feelings that is etched at the back of your mind. And every time I recount my stories, my goosebumps and thoughts were the only validation of how beautiful each fleeting moment is.
If you'd time, if you would for once like to get out of your comfort zone, but am not going to do bungey jump, how about trying out Vipassana Meditation? I'm pretty sure it is going to change your life, but in your most beautiful and unique way.
With this, I'll end my writing on Vipassana Meditation, but the journey will never end for as long as we live. I'll like to thank everyone, particularly all the server who's been helping out the event. Vince; the officer who talked to me during my anxiety attacks. Saitama; the chef who's been cooking really delicious food and he made me fall in love with curry Brinjal! Sorry I don't know your name but you look like Saitama hahaha! And everyone one who's been helping up on and off! And of course my wonderful teacher from Taiwan!
Within my Singapore collection, one of my experiences is attending a Vipassana Meditation Retreat. It was quite intense, nothing like a vacation, but it was one of the best things that happened to me that I'll like to share.