Sunday, March 23, 2008

Meditation Retreat

I attended the 10 days Vipassana meditation retreat in Igatpuri, India, and these were probably the most difficult and, yet, fruitful days of my life. The morning bell woke us up at 4am and we were meditating until 9pm, with one longer (2h) and two shorter brakes. There was a total restriction of anything unrelated to practical meditation (such as talking, reading, writing, etc.). There were even 5 Buddhist monks studying with us and, to be honest, after the first day’s ten hours sitting meditation I was seriously thinking whether I was up to this, but eventually –thank God- I decided to stay at the end.

There were more than three days preparing for the main meditation; during this period we concentrated to the sensations caused by the breathing in and around the nose area, step by step each day decreasing the focus of the concentration until it became to a small spot. During this time my mind stilled down considerably and became very sensitive. In the afternoon of the fourth day the main meditation started, where we supposed to extend our awareness from that tiny spot to the whole body maintaining the clarity of bodily sensations. In the second hour in meditation something started; until that I felt vibrating sensations separately, but then these separated sensations united and my whole body became mere vibration, fluctuation. Its solidity totally dissolved into this flow; and the pain caused by the long sitting too become mere vibration and ceased to be pain anymore.

Here we started to study the body/matter-mind interaction; how certain sensations draws the attention of the mind which reacts by aversion or attachment, then how the mind hangs on this particular sensation multiplying its strength and resulting irresistible aversion (e.g. pain), or craving – then observing how whole these processes are endlessly flowing ahead. I believe now, that what I see sometimes, that white, foggy, vibrating light is actually this vibration. I saw it this time as well, and the sensation and the sight were vibrating exactly for the same rhythm.

We were told not to react to any sensation, just observe it with as much clarity as possible; not to wish to have the sensation of dissolution/vibration, not to feel aversion if only gross sensation what we observe, because otherwise we just repeat our old patterns, instead of eradicating them.

On the last three days I was meditating in cell and I think this isolated environment helped; until I was continuously sweeping my consciousness over the body to sense the flow. But then I tried to open my concentration and instead of focusing to certain part just observe the vibration all over. And then I ‘sank’ further; I left behind the thoughts (which were still arising sometimes, but ‘above’ me); then that usually unconscious level where the mind reacts to those subtle sensations; then as I opened to the vibrations my I ceased to be a solid entity, too, and even the ever changing vibration become somehow distant and at the bottom of everything, as well as in between the two extremes of a vibration (whether in the body or mind, same) there was something like a totally tranquil ocean, with unmoving presence. What I had experienced before, but in a sense from ‘above’, watching it from a distance now became the only thing. It permeated everywhere, still I could not say that it was something, and maybe the tranquility the only attribute I really could attach to it. On all the last three days it happened and took for several tens of minutes. I felt in a sense blessed, though did not feel crying anymore.

(PS. photos are illustrations from web. I had decided not to take camera with me, as I had intended to go to an inward journey...)

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