Last night was… Not my finest.
I spent most of the night in the bathroom block after being chased with a flash light by the manager for walking in the dark. I was trying to walk away the intense abdominal pains I was experiencing and instead of setting me free to walk my way to relief, the manager accused me of going to meet someone and sent me back to bed with an Asian oil that was just like Vix vapor rub. I managed to remind her about my food sensitivities and she laughed and said “oh yeah, I forgot” and she said she would label the food for the rest of the course.
I slept this morning and missed morning meditation and breakfast and ate little at lunch. I am starving but I meditate quite well today. Ed isn’t exactly annoying me, but I keep asking him to give me a break. I want to do this and meditation has upped-a-notch today. Today we took away the triangle and are walking the attention slowly down the body, part by part, observing the sensations at each area. I notice how I can sit for much longer now but my hip keeps sliding out of place and if I lie on my back with my legs crossed, it clicks back in.
I have been doing this every day and sometimes I stay there for a bit if I’m finding it hard to meditate, usually because I’m bored and because Ed is still showing off his new album. If an emotion comes up or a thought that I need to work out, I stare at the ceiling and ask myself whats going on until I work it out, when I do I can get straight back into meditation easily.
I lie back and pop my hip back in and look up at the ceiling feeling very peaceful. I realise that the manager is at the back of the room. I look at her and give her an apologetic smile as I sit up. She comes over and whispers “No lying down in meditation hall” and it annoys me that she spoke because I don’t want to break my silence and she has spoken to me every day so far. It then also dawns on me that I shouldn’t have been talking to myself to work things out, and instead should have simply been meditating as instructed.
Got it now…..
I also realise that Charlotte is missing too.
My previous eating disorder has been on my mind. After a day of no food and four days of no dinner, I am starving. So today I eat more than usual and the past feeling of food related self hatred is very much with me. It’s scary but Goenka keeps reminding us that ‘akashas’ will be surfacing and leaving the body in layers so these are positive experiences. He explains in more detail about akashas: imagine a piece of sandstone and I draw a line in the stone with a sharp object like a key. This line is a thought. The more I think, the deeper the line. This is an akasha. Positive and negative attachments will always equal misery, so whether this is a craving or an aversion, both thought types will cause an akasha. The law of nature means that the top layer will erode and continue to erode with time until it completely disappears, but only if we stop the continued thought process other wise the line continues to be drawn and stays. No craving no aversion.. No craving no aversion.. No craving no aversion.
So while these feelings of body shame and discomfort around food were surfacing I very patiently and trustingly tried not to understand more about it or push it away. I just observed and sure enough, it left after two very uncomfortable days. And I am reminded that these are old feelings and not the way I feel now. I don’t feel relieved or happy… I just am. And it is good.
5pm Tea Time
After four hours in the meditation hall we can finally leave for tea. They make a big cooking pot of sugary tea for us to help ourselves to and leave fruit in our bowl, usually a banana or two tiny slices of melon. I don’t drink the tea and make my own black tea instead. The lack of dinner is getting harder. It is true that it is hard to meditate on a full stomach (I have stopped over eating at lunch) but meditating on an empty stomach is more distracting than Ed.
There is a very attractive lady here who gets dinner every day because she is pregnant. I think what a wonderful thing to do to connect to the baby.
I cried all day. I don’t know why.
5:30pm Break Time
I go for a ‘walk’. the grounds are not very big. There is a concrete path behind the dormitory’s that take you down some steps and along a few more huts where some ‘old students’ (students who have completed a Vipassana before) are staying . I was initially excited to see the view and the grounds when I first arrived at the property because I love walking and after a year of being in the desert, walking amongst lush green was exciting me. I was deeply saddened by the reality of the tall trees blocking the view over the valley and the 200 meter concrete path. Fortunately there was a gap in the trees at the bottom of this path and I could see a golf course to the right. It looked a bit like the English countryside and I liked it. In the distance I could see a foggy and grey Jakarta City and I liked that less. No craving no aversion I repeated to myself.
Today the steps of the path were decorated with meditating bodies lying and sitting under the sunset. It was beautiful. I sat near the top of the slope on a step and watched the sunset where mountain tops turned into clouds and the meditating bodies in my view turned to silhouettes. I meditated very well that evening.
Emotions had continued to come and go. Some were deep routed and I had completely forgotten I had experienced them. Others were expected. By now my body was feeling much lighter and long standing aches and pains had faded away.
After some days of easy meditation and some serious emotional releases, I was thinking about the next stage of my life and how excited I was for it to get started. No craving, no aversion. This is very, very distracting. I cried again. I don’t know why.
6:30pm Group sitting
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
By now Ed was only singing love songs to me and so Lucy’s dancing had subsided with the absence of upbeat music. I was just frustrated and bored with the lack of physical movement in my life. I wished for another rainstorm to shelter from and wrap around me to bring me back in to my meditation bubble. It didn’t come. I wanted to lie back and look at the ceiling. I also didn’t want to get told off. No craving no aversion. I let Ed sing to me and tell me that before he loves someone else he has to love himself. Over and over again. It never got boring. And I understood.
Today the frustration of not moving got too much for me. And after tea I went out in the rain to the bottom of the concrete path on my own and I did ballet in the rain behind a building so that no one could see. It made me happy. I promised I would try to find ballet classes when I get to my new home in Bali. Some craving. Some aversion. Must try harder tomorrow.
By now our mediation had deepened so much that I was able to feel the subtle vibrations inside my body at specific points and also sweep through my body in a three-dimensional way feeling the vibrations as I swept up and down. It was really amazing but no craving, no aversion. I felt peaceful.
The thought of leaving in two days was distracting me and by now I could only remember two lines of three of Ed’s songs and I was more alone with myself then I think I have ever been. I like me. I felt lighter but I was not yet free.
During meditation, the shutters in the hall were all closed. Sometimes the back shutters were open and I could see the tree tops. This comforted me. The sound of outside was so enticing. Slowly the sky became quiet as the birds went to bed and from the distance we were graced with the sound of a cat crying, which I came to realise was a distant Muslim prayer as it happened at the same time every evening and was followed by two or three more nearby mosques with much nicer voices. One by one they started competing for the space in the sky and one by one their varying tones eventually fell out of the the sky and gave the space back to the crickets and the few birds that were yet to go to bed.
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
Goenka talked to us through the television about Meta meditation, which is the act of loving kindness and how we will be ending each meditation session from now on with this meta.
8:30pm Meta Meditation
“GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG GONG”
We go back to the hall and practised meta meditation for the first time, guided my Goenka through the Munk’s white ipod. “May aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall beings be happpyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…..” he burped. “May aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeings share my joooooooooooooooooooooooooy” I stared at the ceiling and wished I could connect to his voice. This went on for half an hour and it was the most painful half an hour of the course.
Lights out. Tomorrow we can speak… The day after I am free.
The first half of our day was much the same. At the end of afternoon meditation Mr Monk and Mrs Nun shuffled to the front of their tables to give the usual directions of what will happen next. Expecting to hear “You may now take a break”, I was moved to tears when Mrs Nun translated Mr Monk’s Indonesian words to “Be happy, be happy, be happy”. When we left the hall people started talking and laughing in relief and celebration. I went to my room to control my tears and then I went to find Clara.
For the rest of the day we had a few meditation sessions but a lot of time to talk and rest. I wasn’t ready to meet lots of people but I was happy to talk to the girls in my dorm and very pleased to finally meet Priya. I went to bed that night with a headache.
Morning meditation and then freedom. We were given back all of our belongings and I after some quick cleaning and meeting more people, I couldn’t get out of there faster.
I shared a car with some people from the course and shared really amazing conversations about our experience and what we will do next and I realised that the course has made me more balanced, that I feel lighter and more comfortable. That there are less emotions to control and that I know where I am going with my life and what I will achieve. I feel safe to be me and I am grateful for the opportunity to spend 240 hours with nothing and Ed.
What was the first thing I did when I arrived at my next destination?
Listened to Ed Sheeran’s new album. Of course.
Vipassana’s are free and all over the world, you can sign up here: https://www.dhamma.org/en/index