My first experience into non-commercialized meditation concept
How all things connected
In 2009, I visited Singapore and Thailand for sightseeing and to have a happy ending. In 2012 I traveled to Nepal and in 2015 visited sri Lanka. In all of those trips, I’ve ended up visiting many Buddhist pagodas.
Since 1995 or so, I used to listen and watched many Satsang/ Pravachan/Discourses of different gurus on television. Not because I was into that, but I had no choice as my parents liked to listen to them. I have listened to discourses of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Morari bapu, Asaram Bapu, S.N.Goenka, Niruben Amin, Sudhanshuji Maharaj, Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj, Muni Tarun Sagar, Avdheshanand Giri Ji, Krishna Chandra Shastriji (Shri Thakurji), Ramesh Oza, Avdhoot Baba Shivanand, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya and the list goes on.
Many discourses adds more confusion. Every guru has his own style, the way of teaching or explaining things. But S.N.Goenka was unique because he used to appear with his wife and for me, both looked like a typical householder from Uttar Pradesh. Not like other gurus who appear well groomed, trademarks on the forehead with a musical group around etc.
In 2006, I met Shiva Shankar who’s a software engineer and he’s an amazing photographer too. Later I came to know he’s a good meditator also. On weekends, many people gather in his house and they practice group meditation. We also visited Hariharapura where he meditated around an hour long with some followers and he gave me a book on Sahaj Marg Raja Yoga Meditation. I never tried to read this because that time I was more into cars, bikes, photography. But I wondered how he can meditate for hours long. I even asked him; he said he knows people who meditate for 6 hours or more in one shot!
Later my interest turned more into traveling. While traveling, I met Marius Samartean who’s from Târgu Mureș, Romania. He was also into software coding. He left his job and for 3 years continuously has been traveling like a local, hitchhiking, walking etc. He stayed in the same apartment where I stayed with my wife and kid at Belgaum, Karnataka. Early in the morning around 5 am, I saw him meditating for a long time. I was stunned to see him in that pose because he was 7 feet tall, and looked very peaceful and calm. Later, he shared his unusual travel stories and meditating experience. He introduced me to Vipassana meditation and told me how it changed his life.
After some traveling, I’ve started hosting, meeting people and also started reading books related to spirituality, yoga, meditation etc. Since 10 years or more, I have been practicing yoga to have good health. Later I found that yoga is all about preparing a body for the meditation. Then, as I got more into meditation. But I failed to meditate for more than 5 minutes. I met some yoga teachers from different parts of the world who showed me amazing yoga poses but failed to meditate properly.
Later I’ve started reading books of Osho (Shree Rajneesh) and I found him straightforward and unique. Then, instead of sitting down and trying to meditate, I’ve started observing my thoughts and emotions the whole day and started correcting them. I think that practice changed me a lot on the surface level of the mind.
I have learned some yoga from yoga guru Baba Ramdev using his television shows and also practiced some using some yoga books. Later, Zoe Larigakis from Vancouver, Canada visited us. She did 200 hour yoga teacher training with Trimurti Yoga in Dharamsala, India. On request, Zoe taught me some more yoga steps which I liked and started practicing. Rohini devarajan introduced me to Headspace, which is a guided meditation & mindfulness Android App which I’ve been following for some days.
I had so much interested in learning more about yoga and meditation by attending some courses or retreats. But, my problem was I hate groups, hate commercialization of spirituality, yoga, or meditation. My thinking is like, a truly enlightened person; love all like Jesus, Krishna, Buddha… give away things and knowledge, expecting nothing in return.
Finally, I found it…
The best things in the world are free. Money can’t buy happiness or peace of mind. I found more about a 10-day free guided Vipassana meditation course, but I was not ready for it. Because being a webmaster, internet marketer, freelancer etc, without internet connection for 10 days, was kind of an impossible idea for me.
In January 2017, I met Ranajoy Goho ,Who left his heavy-paying corporate job and started traveling like a local. His life changed after practicing vipassana meditation and now he practices every day. By talking with him I started feeling the effects of his practice. I have met many knowledgeable people; they know the right things but the greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing.
Finally joined the 10 days Vipassana intensive meditation Course
After meeting Marius Samartean, Ranajoy, I started feeling like there must be something in this kind of meditation practice. I found that people who are into meditation are less miserable and more peaceful. So I convinced my wife Shraddha to join me in the course. We did this course (number 391) at Dhamma Paphulla Vipassana Meditation Centre, Alur, Bengaluru (Bangalore). We went together, but we stayed away in a different area, without meeting each other for 10 days. (as per rules)
10 days of silence, without television programs, news, movies, music, internet, mobile, food which we like, away from friends, family, kids is not such an easy thing to do. With loads of rules…like no killing, no stealing, not lying, no sexual misconduct, no consumption of any intoxicants, no speaking, no eye to eye contact, no waving, no hand signals, not touching anyone, cleaning our own plates and room, staying inside the compound for 10 days like in a prison, meditating 10 hours a day, without dinner, sleeping early, waking up at 4 am every day are the things out of our comfort zone!
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
In late March till May 2017, I traveled with my kid Shrida like a local, leaving our comfort zone [ complete Travel story ]. The experience was great, unforgettable. After that, I found this quote is for real.
Most people may think this kind of meditation is to get instant peace of mind. But, here you are kind of fighting with your mind. Vipassana means to see things as they really are! That means you have to be in the present. But, mind like to travel to the past and to future. No one else is doing anything for us. We are practicing, experiencing things and accepting things as they are. By this technique, we are actually purifying the deepest level of our unconscious mind.
Most of the people who come for this course with lots of expectations like quick relief from stress, to be happy, feel peace within, left it within 2 to 6 days because of the tremendous pain on the body and mind due to sitting down, and tired of fighting with the mind. Most people who stay till the end are people who are motivated by the evening discourses of Goenkaji who really seems to understand how this mind dances and what it exactly needs.
After 6 days, the pain goes more intense because of “Addhitthana”: 3 times 1 hour of a group sitting where you are meditating like a Buddha (without moving any part of the body). After 6 days, 60 hours of meditation, it was not a hard thing to do.
Strongest position you can be in is complete surrender
Vipassana is not another commercialized meditation center. There’s no need to take money or anything. Only important thing is, for 10 days we have to surrender…Surrender….surrender to the master/guru who is S. N. Goenka. He lives no more, but he teaches us the technique by audio and video. There are male and female teachers who will answer all doubts and questions, but most of the things are cleared by goenkaji.
What I really benefited from it
It’s too early to say but these are immediate benefits.
- Traveling inside me: I have traveled around India and some countries. But by using Vipassana and Metta meditation practice I have learned how to travel inside me and experience new things, day after day!
- Learned how to sit for meditation: After meditating for 100 plus hours in 10 days, I exactly learned to meditate properly. Now, meditating 1 to 2 hours a day is a cakewalk for me.
- Silence: I practice Ekadashi fasting once in a month. Not to please anyone but to give rest to the machinery of the stomach. One day, I’ve fasted with a full day of silence. The next day I felt very refreshed. I always wanted to practice silence for more than a day and it is almost impossible to practice it with a family and a kid. This was the biggest thing I got from this course and I really felt very refreshed and had the happy ending.
Thank you Howe Rokofsky, Trainer & chai walla at rokofsky.com for proofreading and editing this post.