240 Hours of Nothing… But Ed Sheeran (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1

Day 2

I woke up to the sound of a gong. It was loud and it repeated about 10 times. It was 4am.
I showered.. Let’s talk about that.
The bathroom block was one of the small buildings between my dorm and the canteen and they were… Simple. As you enter the block with no door, there appeared to be seven cubicles on the left and seven on the right. The first on the left was actually a storage cupboard and the first on the right was labelled ‘For Nun only’. The four at the end had squat toilets and no showers. All the ones in between seemed to have a normal toilet, a very simple shower and a bricked corner with a bucket in the middle of the bricks. These were wet rooms and I took a breath and stopped my skin from crawling. I chose one, hung my clothes on the hooks so they didn’t get wet and I didn’t sit on the seat. There was no toilet paper.
I decided I would shower later. But I cleaned my teeth outside, there were ten sinks outside in a line and three bars of soap between forty-seven of us. This was going to be interesting.
images
4:20
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
I went back into the meditation hall with Ed and then the Nun and her husband Monk arrived at 4:30. On came the white Ipod. “Start agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain…… Staaaaaaaaaaaart agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain….” Moaned Goenka in a very slow and irritating voice and he continued to give simple instruction about the triangle around my nose for about twenty minutes before silence fell.
Observing my breath was worrying me. My breathing was very shallow and I felt I wasn’t actually getting enough breath… But Goenka told us not to adjust or control the breath, just observe it, and so I did.
Ed continued to interrupt my triangle concentration and I tried not to fall asleep. I did keep falling asleep however and my head would jolt and wake me up.
At the end of mediation Goenka sang to us… I don’t know what he was singing about and I didn’t like his voice. I stared at the ceiling and wished it would stop. I like Ed’s voice better.
6:30am Breakfast
We line up through the entrance to the canteen and help ourselves to rice noodles and vegetables and tofu and fruit. There is now a blue curtain down the center of the room, I can hear the men scraping bowls on the other side.
I find my way to my designated table.
The dining tables were thin and could each sit two people, side by side. They were laid out to face the wall, away from the center of the room and there was just enough space to walk between each table. Each place setting had a small white plastic stall tucked under the table, and on top, a green or pink bowl, with a folk, a desert spoon, a latte spoon, and two small tumbler glasses and in each corner of the table was a white printed label, stuck to place with sellotape. These had names.
Charlette Illing
New Student / Old Student
Cushion/ Dining Hall label
The words ‘New Student’ were highlighted in pink pen and I had a pink bowl. My table was second row from the wall.
I saw toilet paper on a table in the corner of the room. I took some and put my name on a list and wrote next to it ‘x1 toilet paper’ because I saw that other people had, and I guessed that was protocol. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see toilet paper.
7am Break Time
I braved the cold shower in my flip flops so my feet wouldn’t touch the tiles and I loved being that cold. It woke me up and gave me a new sense of life. Ed sang ‘Galway Girl’ to me while I tried to keep my baggy clothes dry balancing on my flip flops as I dressed.
I went back to my room and my roommates were all asleep on their beds.
I laid down.
7:50am
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
I went to the top of the stairs and waited outside the meditation hall. I could see part of the men’s quarters on the other side of the hedge.
Charlotte was walking towards me and her boyfriend was right by her side on the other side of the hedge, walking at the same pace. I wondered if they were thinking about each other.IMG_9359
Back to the triangle around my nose whilst internally dancing to Ed and laughing at Lucy. I realised how happy I am in my life right now and briefly wondered why I was doing this course, I felt pretty good and maybe I didn’t need to imprison myself for ten days. What did I even want from this course? I knew I wasn’t completely focused on meditation but I was happy with my relaxed attempts and welcomed the strings of Ed’s guitar to keep me entertained between moments of triangle attention.

Day 2

I noticed a sign on the partition at the top of the steps to the Dhamma Hall. It had the schedule and each day was to be the same.
People kept creeping out of the hall and I guessed that we were allowed to get up during meditation to get water, go to the bathroom or have a little stretch but I felt like these were to be very short breaks. I had an overwhelming desire to interrupt my meditation to go to the bathroom, so I did. I seemed to be the only one out and about. A lady who I later discovered was the manager saw me and asked me what I was doing. She sternly told me to be quick. I forgot my towel so I went to dry my hands. She saw me again.. “What are you doing?” Confused by the request for verbal communication I whispered back to her and she told me that actually during group sitting we should not leave the Dhamma Hall. I was confused because it looked like everyone was in and out of the hall and I didn’t enjoy being told off. I concluded that ‘group sitting’ was meditation.
11am Lunchtime
Mr Monk and Mrs Nun end most meditation sessions with instruction of what happens next. Mr Monk first explains briefly in Indonesian and then Mrs Nun repeats in English and they float out of the room through their personal blue curtains and then we may leave.
Lunch is similar to breakfast and there are no signs warning of gluten or beans. I eat a little too much to cover the lack of dinner and I fall straight to sleep on bed number 2, room B15. I am not one to nap, I find it hard usually. But here, I sleep without any problems what so ever, including distractions from Ed.

Day 3

12:50pm
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
Back in meditation, Ed gives me a break and I start to realise I can really feel the subtle sensations in my triangle. Today the triangle is much smaller, to include the tip of my nose and nostrils only. Each night before bed, we have been watching video’s of Goenka and he’s has been explaining what we are doing and why we are doing it. The triangle is teaching us how to focus the mind on very local and specific parts of the body to create awareness of the subtle vibrations that happen throughout the body. The aim here is scientific and not in anyway religious. He tells us that when we focus the attention in this way, we calm the mind where as with visualisation techniques, you are still using the mind, just distracting it. Makes sense.
The woman who told me off yesterday is sitting right at the front and side-on to us. I can see her between the back of everyone else head and she keeps opening her eyes to look for her next victim. Today we were told that for the rest of the course there will be three sessions of ‘group sitting’ throughout the day where we cannot move at all during meditation. We can’t even open our eyes. I feel it was slightly unfair that I was so reprimanded for my bathroom break yesterday when group sitting hadn’t even started yet but think she must have forgotten and I forgive her.
I feel a tightness in my chest. I feel as if an emotion is stuck or on it’s way up. It’s hard to breath and I try to keep calm. Tears start to roll down my cheeks and sit on my lap. The tightness goes and I don’t know why I cried. I also don’t feel sad.
(To be continued and concluded next week)
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