My Vipassana Experience: Path to Equanimity
We all want a state where we remain calm irrespective of what’s happening in and around our surroundings. And that quest led me to this meditation practice called “Vipassana.”
Lately, It has gained popularity and chances are that you might have heard about it in some form or the other.
I had heard about Vipassana from a podcast that is linked here. Over there the host talked about what happens during the entire course and how it is effective and also the story of the promoter of Vipassana meditation in India.
That kind of sowed the seeds in my subconscious mind that one day I am gonna try that because I have been doing meditation for the last 3 years on and off and wanted to elevate how I do that.
This year I finally had the time and chance to do a 10-day Vipassana meditation course.
The dates and availability took me to a place near Mumbai called “Palgarh.” Since I still have a fear of traveling to unknown places, I was skeptical about whether to do it or not but I went ahead with the plan anyway.
Palgarh meditation center is a ~10-acre campus that is lush green. Below is an attached photograph.
Once I reached there, all I could see are old people and immediately I felt whether I am at the right place or if it was too soon for me to try all of this. I was skeptical but since I had traveled such a long distance, I thought of staying there. But very soon a lot of young folks also started coming in, sigh.
But very soon a lot of young people came in and by seeing whom you can make out that they are students started coming in and all good so far.
The admission process starts:
Now the process started and we were given rulebooks to read and our names were called out respectively followed by a mini interview where a person tells about the difficulty level of the course.
I saw one person going back because he didn’t want to leave the “Beliefs & Rituals” he was following and Vipassana rules are such that you have to keep everything aside for 10 days.
Post that, We were given our rooms and later we were told to gather in the dining area for a code of conduct and instructions.
The 10-day course starts:
Before I proceed with what I experienced there, here is what Vipassana in a nutshell means:
“It is a meditation method which directs you to focus solely on your breath and sensations in the purest form.”
As a rough estimate, we were clocking ~10 hrs of meditation a day alongside ~1.5 hrs of “Dharma Pravachan”.
Now talking about my experience, here is what I felt during the entire course:
a) All my life instances kept flashing in front of me throughout the course. All the traumas that I wanted to forget kept popping into my head to an extent that it became uncomfortable then. But pretty soon, everything became normal.
b) I was able to concentrate on my breath without any external support or guidance which is unlike the meditation I was doing so far.
c) I did not feel what an Ideal Vipassana meditator might feel as strongly. I had very few instances but then I knew that I was not able to do the meditation as appropriately as I could have.
d) However, I now know a rational method, that tells you why you are doing things a certain way and teaches you to look inside in all circumstances.
If the above points confused you, it’s my articulation to blame for. Let me try to explain what I learned and what is drawing me to stick to it.
“All our life we blame people, circumstances for our reactions/responses but wherein it is the inside of us that is to blame for. A part of our inside reacts to an external circumstance or stimuli and that’s the major cause of all our sufferings. What if, we get the ability to see it, acknowledge it, and not react to the external stimuli at all, and what if we practice it long enough so that it becomes our second nature.”
Let’s understand this with an analogy:
“You saw a person whom you don’t like, Since, our senses detected that person, an emotion/reaction got instantly generated which is of anger or hate and we blurted out abuses to that person and those words had their consequences which led to further sufferings.”
What if instead of reacting, we had a method to acknowledge this emotion and not react at all.
In Dhamma, such a state is referred to as “Equanimity”.
And the way to master such a state goes through your breath.
Why Breath if you may ask, Because breath is one such tool that changes the way we feel. For eg, you must have seen that while you are angry, your breath becomes heavy and that’s what the first 3 days are meant for in Vipassana.
The exercise is called “Aana Paana” and is meant for making you sensitive to your breath.
I know you must have a lot of questions but what I’ll suggest is to visit once and give it a try. Post that, it’s your will to continue or not continue it.
One of the greatest things about this whole course is that there you aren’t forced to do any kind of idol worship and there aren’t any such “Rituals”
It’s a very practical art and one other thing that I have realized is that of all the meditation apps that I have tried, they kinda use a subset of what’s taught in Vipassana minus the fees and few moderations.
I’ll suggest in case this kinda interests you to go and see it for yourself and you will thank me later, I promise.
Just in case you want to go or want to learn more, here are a few resources, you can look into:
b) iOS Meditation App, Android Meditation App
c) About the promoter: S.N. Goenka Ji
How can you enroll?
To enroll, Find the nearest center from this link.
Thank you so much for reading this far.
Mindful living, mindful being.