At last, it’s about to happen. We re going to surrender ourselves to Vipassana meditation. To me this, learning to meditate, has been a dream for a very long time and what better place to do it then Nepal? I consider myself very lucky.
To be honest this Vipassana thing is getting a bit exciting now, especially because to us, it’s all quite a mystery what is about to happen exactly. All we know up until now is that we will be making long days, we will be separated form each other for 10 days straight, we get no dinner and we are not allowed to talk to anyone during this period. In addition to this we will be dealing with personal issues from the past so that might become quite intense. Especially since there is nobody there to give you comfort. Looking back on my recent past, which has been quite tragic at times I must confess that I am starting to get a bit nervous indeed.
We report to the office where we enlisted about 2 months ago and there’s a huge line of people there. We did expect that there would be a few people but not this many. Maybe a lot of them are on the waiting list, hoping that people won’t show up? Apparently this meditation center is very popular, hence the waiting for 2 months for an available slot. I guess there’s nothing we can do but join the queue.
Luckily we are at the front of the queue quite fast, because in Nepal there basically is no structure. At least none of which comes close to the Netherlands.People here are just waiting at whatever place seems convenient to them, but preferably as close as possible to where they have to be, or have just been.
Outside there is a small table with like 20 people surrounding it. Being raised properly I decide to just join the end of the line, but almost immediately I get called to the front. Apparently all the other people have already been there then? Milou reports to a different table where the enlistment of women is being arranged. So the separation of men and women is already starting here!
After going through their pile of papers 3 times they come to the conclusion that my form is not there and I’m asked to go to table number 4, which is inside the building. Shoes off and placed in the rack, backpack in the corner and waiting again.
This is where I get my form back and am asked to have a talk with the teacher/mentor. Going through my form I see a few things highlighted in red: ‘girlfriend’, ‘lost best friend recently’ en ‘big dream of travelling for one year’. Is this a good thing or bad?
After a few minutes Milou also enters the waiting room and the lady even asks if we would like to sit together. When she gets her form we go through it to look for highlighted text. On her form ‘boyfriend’ is the only thing highlighted. Yes, some of you might be wondering: “shouldn’t that be fiancée?” But no, at the time of our application this was not yet the case, haha. After about 10 minutes the door opens and we are called inside. We are asked if we would like to do the interview together, so why not?
We sit down on the pillows that are on the floor in front of the teacher and wait anxiously of what is about to come. He goes through the forms and then asks Milou why she would like to do Vipassana and if she will be able to abide to the rules. A few moments later I’m asked the same questions and my answer is that I would like to learn how to meditate and create peace of mind, because at times it can be a real chaos in there. The teacher signs off the document and we are asked to return to table 1, makes sense right?
Arriving at table 1 I’m being sent to table 3 where they fill in the last bits of information on the form. After that it’s waiting time again, because at 1PM we will be given a short instruction about what is to be expected. The instruction class itself is already a challenge because there are no chairs, just a few pillows on the floor. I guess they already want us to practice for the coming 10 days.
After the instruction we are taken to the meditation center by bus and enlist. Meaning we hand over our passport and money for safekeeping. Also our valuables and items that can cause a distraction, like laptops, camera’s, phones, books, musical instruments and even pens and paper are put in storage. After that we are given time to look around at the premises and we are still allowed to talk to our fellow students. But we are being separated from the women at this point though.
At 5PM we have our last dinner and following that there is a class with some more information. In this context, more information means the same information but told by someone else. After this class, at 8PM our so called ‘noble silence’ starts.
Noble silence is a term we will be hearing a lot during Vipassana, meaning we’re not allowed to have any form of contact whatsoever with our fellow students. Like: no talking, no hand gestures, no touching, no sounds or noises and not even eye contact. Now that sounds like a real challenge.
We are also asked to abide the following 5 rules:
- to abstain from killing any creatures (so not even mosquitoes)
- to abstain from stealing
- to abstain from sexual misconduct
- to abstain from lying
- to abstain from using drugs or alcohol
The rules are actually quite obvious and similar to any rules of religion but it’s a good thing to be aware of this for some time. Lucky for us it’s quite cold here now so there won’t be too many mosquito’s bothering us, otherwise it would have been quite annoying to not kill them when buzzing around your head at night.
As for the not lying part, the noble silence is partly to support this rule. Because if you are unable to talk, your not able to leave something out by accident and thus tell a lie. But the noble silence is mainly to help you maintain your focus, and other students maintain theirs during Vipassana.
There are also some other rules but these are less emphasized, although you are requested to abide them but more to help yourself to get the best possible experience out of these 10 days you will be doing Vipassana.
Like, you are asked to stop performing all your (religious) rituals that you would normally do, so no prayers before eating or sleeping, no other types of meditation, no yoga, not saying mantra’s, no burning of incence, no fasting, no singing/dancing, etc.
This is not done to convert you, but for you to experience pure Vipassana (Dhamma) and the effect it has on you. So without the interference of any other ritual you normally do. You are being asked to have faith in Vipassana, because having faith in what you do (whatever it may be) is essential to be able to experience it to the fullest.
Vipassana is not a religion. It is discovered/developed by Buddha, but has nothing to do with Buddhism. It’s a technique that everyone can learn and apply if so desired to help you purify your mind. And to face your tensions and problems in a calm and balanced way and to contribute to society in a positive way.
From 8:30 PM till 9PM is our first group meditation. There’s a good vibe and you can feel that everyone is enthusiastic, that half hour is passed in no time. After this session there’s not much else that can be done than go to bed. It’s getting dark here around 6:30PM and the temperature in the evening is around 10 degrees Celsius.
Since we left our home in February this year, thinking we would only be spending time in warm countries, we didn’t really bring any winter clothes. So sitting outside is not really an option. On top of that, why would you sit outside alone in the cold, it’s not like having a good talk with someone is an option here.
Our first hours of meditation
At 4AM there’s a bell and we are expected to get up so that we are ready to start our first 2 hour meditation session at 4:30. Yup, we have to get up early and start with a long session straight away. After these 2 hours, in which we focus (observe) mainly on our breathing, it’s time for breakfast. A mix and mash of chickpea’s and some sort of porridge made of rice. Luckily it sounds a lot worse that it actually tasted. It’s mostly a nutritious and healthy meal, which is something I can use right now, especially after 2 hours of meditating.
After breakfast we get some more rest, till 8AM before we start meditating again, for one hour. 5 minutes break to stretch our legs and go to the toilet and then another session of 2 hours starts. The rest in between sounds a lot more appealing than it was in reality. Since we were asked to drink enough fluids, and because water suppresses the feeling of hunger, I decided to drink plenty. Downside to that is that it makes you pee more. The 5 minutes of rest are just enough time to get up and go to the toilet, stand in line, pee and make it back just in time for the next session. Luckily sometimes the queue is less giving me a minute to warm up in the sun.
At 11 it’s time for lunch, dal bhat. A combination of rice with various vegetables, curry and a soup of lentils. Very tasteful and also very nutritious. In case you are interested in a recipe or would like to see what it looks like, you can click here. It’s a recipe Milou has written on her vegan food blog The Happy Chickpea. The meals are always more than enough and they even let you have a second (and third) serving if you like. Basically you can eat as much as you like here and you don’t have to starve yourself, but it is better to not eat too much because this will influence your meditation. I think that’s because your body is too busy digesting then and that might make it harder to focus, but I’m not sure.
After lunch we are given some time to take rest, was some clothes (manually) or clean your bed, bathroom and toilet. This is your own responsibility to keep your personal hygiene and it shows wisdom if you do. At least that’s written everywhere.
My room in itself is fairly neat upon arrival and even though it’s a 9 person dorm, I am only sharing it with one other person, a Japanese guy.
From day 1 I decide to organize my belongings on the bed next to me and to place my shoes at the end of the bed. Mainly because the toilet bowl is leaking from the side, causing the floor to be wet all the time. I must admit that none of the rooms I ever slept in (which are a lot by now) was ever this organised. It’s almost scary!
Since I don’t have any clothes to wash yet and I don’t feel like cleaning my room yet, I decide to lay down on the bed (a wooden board with a 3cm thick mattress). I try to meditate but soon I’m vast asleep, being wakened by the bell at 12:50. Time to report to the Dhamma hall.
The afternoon session
The bell sounds again at 1PM, telling us to start our afternoon session. All in all this session takes 4 hours. Compared to the morning session, which took 5, quite a relief. We start with a session of an hour and a half, 5 minutes ‘rushing to the toilet break’ to continue with a session of 1 hour. Another 5 minutes of rest and then another session of 90 minutes to conclude the afternoon.
After this it’s time for our evening snack. No dinner unfortunately, but the new students do get a bowl of muesli with a glass of warm milk, a banana and half and apple cut into parts. This is what’s going to have to do the trick until breakfast again. Old students even only get lemon water! Although they do get their fruit, which we get now, in the morning at breakfast.
We get one hour to finish this evening snack, more than enough time to choke down half an apple and a banana, so usually I end up getting some more tea in my aluminium cup just to kill time. They usually have herbal tea (occasionally black tea), or milk tea. Which is not really my cup of tea but since choices are limited I do end up taking this one on a daily basis. The milk does contain some more nutrients than normal tea, so I figure this is the better option. Usually there is another guy sitting next to me doing the exact same thing. Funny though that we drink tea together without exchanging a single word.
The ending of the day
The bell rigs again at 6PM, evening meditation is starting. The evening session takes up 3 hours, an hour less than the afternoon. In total we will be meditating 12 hours per day!
From 6-7PM is another hour of meditating. These hourly sessions will later get a special meaning assigned to them, which I will explain later on. After this hour a 5 minute break and then we are asked to take place in a different hall to see a video of the so called ‘Dhamma talk’. A video in which S.N.Goenka (the most recent teacher of Dhamma) explains what we have done today, why we do it this way and what is expected tomorrow. The video takes up 90 minutes and is my favourite activity during the day after seeing the first one. Looking back on it all, this was the case for most people. Time to relax and learn about what we are doing.
During the video the teacher tells us that a lot of people go to sleep during rest time. Something he can obviously not forbid but he does advise us to make best use of our time here and therefore try to stay awake. It sounds very logical to me and even though I wasn’t my intention to go to sleep after lunch I do take it a bit personal and decide to not do this any more. Some of the next days where I would lay on my bed I would hold my arms up so it would wake me when I dozed off, must have been a strange sight.
The video’s are full of stories, anecdotes and funny recognizable facts, making them highly enjoyable to watch. And the teacher strikes me as a likeable person. Look him up on Youtube to see what I mean.
After the video we make our way back tot the Dhamma Hall, the biggest hall on the premise where we will be spending most of our time meditating as a group. Men and women are seated separated but nonetheless in the same hall. The session after the video takes 30 minutes in which we can start practising what is explained in the video. After this session it’s 9PM and our day comes to an end. Time to brush my teeth and get some sleep. The 4 o’clock bell will soon be ringing again.
Rise and shine at 4AM to start meditating again at 4:30! It may sound as the middle of the night but I do feel very well rested and fit to start working. The time table will remain the same for the next 9 days so at least I know what to expect.
The change with yesterday is that we will now be focussing more on feeling our breath. We are told that when you focus closely on your breathing you are able to feel through which nostril the air passes and where it touches your skin or inside of your nose. Time to find out.
Breakfast has slightly changed the essence remains the same, a mix and mash of chickpeas but now we also get 2 pieces of toast and some warm milk or tea. Lunch doesn’t change during these 10 days of Vipassana, the type of vegetables at most. On some days some left over breakfast is also served again at lunch.
A tough day
According to yesterdays video, day 2 and day 6 are the most difficult, because most people are not used to sitting in the meditation posture (which is not mandatory by the way). But also because they are trying to calm down their minds but that proves to be a tricky thing. When truly focussing on your mind you will start to notice how busy they really are during the day, basically with doing all kinds of random stuff, there doing nothing actually. Thoughts go here, there and everywhere without any structure. So I can imagine that this scares people and that they have a hard time, which I luckily id not experience myself. I think it’s kind of funny to experience, since I have never paid that close attention to it, it’s kind of soothing.
At the end of the day we watch the next video and get clarification on day 2. It’s almost surreal to hear Goenka talk about it, as if he’s inside your head during meditation. He clearly describes what you experience, where your thoughts go and how you feel. For day 3 we are asked to focus on ‘sensations’ that we experience in the area around your nose and nostrils. These sensations can be anything, tingling, itching, throbbing, heat, pressure or anything else. Everyone experiences sensations in their own way. Goal is to observe the sensations, recognize it and observe it as it is. The day after this one we will be narrowing down the area in which we feel the sensations, making our mind sharper and sharper enabling it to pick up sensations easier and also feel more subtle sensations.
Today we will be learning Vipassana. Vipassana is the name of a meditation technique that consists of 3 parts:
- Sila (moral): the acceptance and following the 5 rules described earlier
- Samadhi (concentration): controlling and focussing the mind
- Panna (wisdom): insight to enable you to clear your mind
We have completed Sila on day 1, even without noticing, but we do continue to abide these rules. Samadhi is what we have learned in the past few days and now it’s time to learn Panna.
In short, we are going to scan our body, top to bottom, for sensations that might manifest. We observe them and accept them without reacting to it. One of the most clear examples of sensations I got was pain, mostly because of way we sit. The idea is to not react to it but to simply accept it as it is, even though that might not be as you want it to be. It’s just a temporary sensation that will disappear eventually, even when you don’t react to it.
I must admit, it sounds very spiritual but I did acknowledge it myself. Normally you would change your posture when you’re in pain but by accepting it as it is and not reacting to it the pain seems to become less and eventually disappear even. That was a really awesome experience! The downside of it, for me, was that because I’ve had multiple surgeries on both knees, sitting in the meditation posture without pain is nearly impossible. But when I scanned these pain sensations, the pain seemed to get much less. Moments later I caught myself starting at my head but after minutes I would rush my focus to my knees and then when the pain was bearable again I would continue where I left. Only to keep it up for a few minutes and then go back to my knees again.
In the video in the evening the teacher explained that a lot of people tend to do this, but that it’s better not to give in, even though it’s hard. Mainly because you might be missing out on less gross sensations that way. So tomorrow I will try my best to try this, but it will be hard since tomorrow we will also be adding ‘adhittãna’.
Aditthãna stands for strong determination. In our case we are asked to maintain our posture during the 1 hour sessions for the whole hour. Without changing our posture or even changing our placement of hands. On the bright side, we are allowed to choose any posture we like, as long as we keep it up. Of course we’re not here to torture ourself, so if needed you are allowed to change your posture. But by having strong determination you will force your mind to be obedient to your willpower, which is an important part of Vipassana.
During the morning session I’m unable to sit in the same posture for one hour. Also my knees are beginning to feel very agitated so I decide it’s time to ask the teacher (you are allowed to speak to the teachers at designated time slots) for a ‘chair’. Although this sounds very luxurious, it’s not a chair as we know it. Basically it’s a simple elevated plateau, about 30cm above the ground. On this plateau you can sit in meditating posture as well, but when necessary, with the use of some small pillows, you can also sit on it like on a normal chair. SO with your legs in a 90 degree angle, but there is no backrest though. During the afternoon session I decide to sit up straight on the chair, to see if I can keep that up for one hour.
I do succeed at doing that, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Sitting up straight and still for a full hour. Especially not for me. Because when I normally sit on a chair, I look more like a banana, all curved and slouched haha.
Meditating in a cell
Op day 8, while I’m busy meditating, all of a sudden there is someone pulling on my pillow. I open my eyes to see one of the volunteers, who are present during this course to answer questions regarding accommodation and also to serve us food. He hands me a small piece of paper and whispers “Go to hall 6.” Confused I look at the note, but there is not much useful information on it, except my name and the date. He then repeats it two more times so I decide to get up and go outside.
Once I’m outside I see about 20 people there waiting and after a few minutes we are guided towards this big temple. Once we enter the temple there’s a long dark hallway with a lot of doors on the left side. All doors have been numbered and once again I take a look at my note. There’s written ‘cell 38’, which now makes sense to me, so I make my way towards door number 38. The volunteer opens the door for me and behind the door there is a small space, not much bigger than a toilet, with a pillow on the ground.
By now I know what the pillows are for so I sit down on it and seconds later the door is closed and the lights go out. Apparently this is going to be my new meditation spot for today. I turn on the light to have another look at the note, which has 3 time slots written on it. My assumption is that I will be in this cell 2 more times today, oh joy!
The door opens and the volunteer tells me to turn off the light. So I turn it off once again and start meditating. There is only 1 small problem…
The note has made me aware of the date.
In my mind, at the start of this Vipassana course, I had made the calculation that day 8 would be on November 23, the birthday of my best friend Marc, for whom we made a trip back the Netherlands to be a part of his wedding on April 3rd earlier this year. I had totally forgotten that today is day 8.
But the note says, November 22. So I miscalculated one day, which isn’t such a big deal but now I’m aware that tomorrow will be November 23. This made it really hard for me to focus, especially in my new, small, dark environment. The first 2 sessions seem like a real waste of time. It feels as if there’s not a single moment on which I’m actually meditating. Very frustrating, to watch time go by in the dark.
The final session, after accepting things as they are, there’s some improvement and I actually experience to so called ‘subtle sensations’ for the first time. I had heard the teacher speak about it multiple times but I had no idea what he was talking about.
During Vipassana there are 2 sorts of sensations that you can experience; gross, solidified sensations (most often pain) or subtle sensations.
The theory behind these sensations is that they way you react to certain events in your life, leave some sort of marking (Sankhara) on your soul (I think this is the best way to describe it). These Sankhara’s can be very shallow, very deep or something in between. The example used by our teacher is that a Sankhara is like a line drawn in:
- water, a Sankhara which is washed away almost instantly
- zand, this Sankhara is more resilient but eventually the water will wash it out
- steen, a deep Sankhara that will take a long time and effort to fade away
The idea behind Vipassana is to observe and accept situations that present itself, as they are, without responding (creating a new Sankhara) to it. When you are capable of doing this, you will no longer create new Sankhara’s and that feels very good. Because you are not generating any negativity or anger towards yourself. You are less easily agitated and annoyed.
As a result of not creating any new Sankhara’s, your old Sankhara’s will rise to the surface and allow you to deal with them without reacting to them, so you are basically resolving and eradicating them.
Sankhara’s that were created as a result to an unpleasant situation will manifest itself as gross, solidified sensations, while pleasant reactions manifest itself as subtle sensations. The remedy to both sensations is basically the same, accept and do not react to them. So don’t create aversion towards gross sensations, so you won’t generate negativity towards yourself when something happens that you don’t like. And don’t create craving towards subtle sensations so you won’t generate negativity towards yourself when something that you would really llike to happen doesn’t work out.
It’s a bit difficult for me put in words, especially since I have to do it all from memory as we weren’t allowed to write anything down during these 10 days. On top of that the Dhamma talks were all in English so in my head I had to translate it to Dutch first and now, weeks later I have to translate it back again to English.
I think you can find all Dhamma talks on YouTube as well so if you are really interested, look them up. Of course it goes without saying that it’s even better to clear out 10 days in your agenda to do a Vipassana course yourself. You will not regret this and it will surely be an eye opener, I can guarantee you that. If you would like more information, you can follow this link.
My first experience with subtle sensations
Like I said before, I had my first experience with subtle sensations in my cell, what a wonderful feeling is that! It’s hard to put in words what it is exactly that I felt, but it gets closest to someone pouring a bucket of warm water over my head and my whole body reacted to that. Very pleasant, but also very temporary, which is exactly what you should keep in mind. Sensations are only temporary, both positive and negative, and it’s not worth it to react to it and generate negativity for yourself. Now I’m not saying that you should become insensitive, but you should stop craving pleasant sensations. In the long run this will generate more negativity for yourself than it will do you any good. Sensations and moments are perishable and it is as it is, not as you would like it to be.
I feel blessed for having the ability to meditate in that cell. At first I felt very sad and as if I was wasting time, but eventually experiencing the subtle sensations really opened up a whole new world for me. At long last I now understand the story our teacher is telling and it no longer feels as if I’m doing something wrong. Which is stupid in the first place because it’s impossible to do it wrong, it’s your personal experience which is always the right thing to do.
At first this whole course seems a bit vague, because it’s different to everyone, so nobody can tell you what to do or what to do different. The theory makes sense and the experiences are accordingly but still it all comes down to having faith in the technique. Which is something you can only do yourself. It really is a matter of experiencing it yourself.
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
During one of the Dhamma talks. we’re asked to be more aware of what is happening in our body and to become aware of all sensations taking place. When we are walking towards the dining hall, when we’re eating, when we are sunbathing, when we take a shower, when we brush our teeth, when we sit down, etc. This creates some memorable moments for me personally, especially during breaks.
Since everyone is focussing on their awareness, I notice myself, but also other people, experiencing everything more intense and giving more attention to situations that would normally just pass by. During one of my walks through the garden after lunchtime I noticed a lot of students looking at flowers, that is to say… they were more gazing at them! This also includes bugs, butterflies, the local cat, water drops, washing pegs, everything. Sometimes it reminded me a lot like a mental facility, like in the movie ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Really funny to see somebody on my left gazing down a flower, on my right someone staring at an ant while in the distance I see someone looking up at the sky for minutes. Everywhere I look there are people staring at ordinary stuff that would normally just pass by, everyone!
The last few hours of synchronized sitting
Day 9, November 23rd, the day I feared most before entering this course, seems to pass by without much discomfort. Apparently I have made peace with it then, or allowed myself to look at it an another perspective? Where I was heavily struggling the day before, I know seem able to put it into perspective. Of course I have not forgotten about my friend, but I do experience that I have let go of a few feelings that only got me down. At least now I’m able to look up as well.
Day 10 is the final day which consists of 2 meditation session in the morning, still observing noble silence silence, so that’s another 3 hours of synchronized sitting! After these 2 sessions there will be a class about how to apply this technique in the future and to what we should pay attention in particular. After this class the noble silence is being relieved so we get the chance to first share our experiences with our fellow students.
I must say that this is a weird feeling. I have spent 10 days with these people, shared a room, eaten together, drank tea together, stared at flowers together and yet I know nothing about them. I don’t even know what their voice sounds like and yet we have a lot of things in common now. To all of us the whole world, or better to say, our view towards the world, has changed without us even having spoken about it.
The separation of men and women is also lifted and there’s a designated area, outside hall 2 and 3, where we are allowed to meet and talk to one another. Shortly after the noble silence is relieved I decide to go there to wait for Milou. Apparently she had the same idea, because when I started to make my way there I see her appear right in front of me, on her way to the same area. I go towards her to give her a hug but she tells me that this is not allowed, I had no idea. So apparently physical contact is still restricted.
We sit down between hall 2 and 3 and talk about everything, but mostly our experiences. That sure feels great, to finally be able to share it with Milou. Especially when you take into consideration that we have been travelling together for over 8 months now. Day in, day out we got out of bed together, were able to speak to each other, share laughs, share food and go to bed together. And now we have been separated for 10 days, not allowed to even look at each other.
Which we failed to do so. On day 9 our eyes crossed once, while leaving the Dhamma talk hall. It felt as if I got an electric shock throughout my whole body, very strange. Like being caught while doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. But I must say that it also felt very nice to see some proof of life. Talking about looks that express more than a thousand words (not sure if this is a saying in English, but then you guys just learned a Dutch saying ;)), this was one of those!
On this 10th day the timetable is slightly different and has become less strict. Although there are a few mandatory meditation sessions still. The hourly addhitaña sessions. After every session we meet again on the same spot and catch up on our experiences. It’s quite amusing to hear Milou’s experiences and to discover how she felt during these 10 days. She is also able to share me some information I didn’t know, the muesli during dinner is endless! I should have known that sooner. Let’s test that out tonight.
In the afternoon there’s a video about Vipassana being taught inside the biggest prison of India. As an experiment to see if this works better than punishing the criminals. Surprisingly the results were astonishing! To us this is proof that people can actually change for the better. We also feel a lot calmer, happier and more peaceful in our mind, therefore we do advise everyone out there to participate in a course. Create that time in your agenda and take time to work on yourself, it will not only help you, but also everyone around you and it only costs you 10 days (and a donation if you feel like it).
The experiences of our fellow students are also very recognizable. Someone felt sensations throughout his whole body, as if electricity was passing through him while another one only felt pain for 10 days. But everyone we talk to feels happy and positive about taking this step, even the ones that only felt pain. Everyone notices a big change in themselves.
There even was one guy who, on day 3, looked as if he was losing it. He was in a mental fight with his banana for about 15 minutes, literally! After witnessing this I decided to report it to the teacher because it was really frightening to see.
I asked him how he was doing and he said he was doing fine. After my story about the banana he laughed and thanked me for telling the teacher. He told me that he had been having anxiety for a few years and is taking severe medication for it, which he forgot to bring enough. So probably that’s why this happened. But he also said that the technique seemed to have helped him with his anxiety a bit. I am not saying that this is course is a treatment for mental diseases but in some cases it has proven to help people deal with it in different ways. You should consult their website or a teacher in a facility close by if you would like to know more about it. They can also tell you, during the interview before the start of the course, if it’s a good idea to join or not.
The anecdote on ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ is spot on. Everyone laughs about it because they all recognize themselves and others in it. Oh my, how silly we all looked at times.
Back in the real world…
Once we’re back in Kathmandu we notice a big difference in ourselves. We are a lot calmer and have stopped getting annoyed by all the cars honking and the people yelling. We now just look at them and smile thinking ‘you should try Vipassana’. In our homestay in Kathmandu, the whole family also notices a big change. We are a lot calmer and more cheerful, they say. So apparently it did have the desired effect.
For now we will try to fit meditation in our daily routine, but we fear it might be difficult while travelling. Since we don’t really know where we will be and what we will be doing. On top of that, travelling through different time zones won’t be very helpful either. But once we’re back home we will make this our first priority.
If you would like to read more about the technique of Vipassana meditation we recommend that you read the following books:
As for ourselves, we bought ‘The art of living’, since it’s written by ‘our’ master, Mr S.N. Goenka.