31 December, 2007

The Silent Treatment pt.1

I am back early from my Vipassana meditation because I got sick and the fever that made the meditation very difficult. Although, I made it until the eighth day, but sadly missing the intense body vibrations that come those last two days. They said I could stay in bed there, take medication they would get for me, or go home. But the sleep deprivation from being in a noisy room was wearing me out. I was very reluctant to leave after already seeing some benefits. First of all, it was nothing like I expected. I arrived with some 4 boxes of tea as a gift, and told to wait outside for an hour. This man who greeted me, I immediately made note of his equanimous behavior towards me and the others. I met two guys outside while waiting, and all of us were awkwardly talked anticipating the unknown.
The men and women were separated in the hall, dining, grounds and at all times. The first dinner after checking in, I spent time talking to a Chinese/ Tibetan healer and his disciple client. He twisted each of my fingers and found the one that was more freer, he announced, “You have a liver problem.” I did not take this too seriously, because I just had a full blood panel done last month and it looks fine. He did inspire me not to eat the dinner saying that this is like the last supper and will make tomorrow more difficult. But all this helped me to feel like I am one of the gang that first evening. The first night, I had 12 men in my room ranging from 18 – 60, I became acutely aware listening to all in their sleep, either talking, moaning or tossing… that we all suffer. As I laid there that first night unable to sleep I tried wishing them well, falling asleep 3 hours later. Sure we all look fine in daylight, but at night it all comes out. When was the last time you spent a night in room with 12 people... not since camp, right? I was thinking it would dredge up all kinds of past hurts and disappointments, but the fact it was not so specific. In the process of concentrating the mind by watching the breath, and drifting thoughts all I could think about is those that helped me. I felt that several friends of mine are a Buddha, because of their role and compassion they have showed me. It only seemed long to meditate that first few days. Then the pain started and work. I enjoyed the 4 am wakeup gong, and each gong sounding. There were several rung simultaneously all around the camp in almost dead quiet setting before and after every meditation. The beautiful chime of the gong, kept repeating in my head at all different times. It was hauntingly nice. Walking down in the path in the moonlight, bundled up in early morn was beautiful, and I am not a morning person. I was embarking on a new insight into my mind. Arriving at the hall at 4:30, in low light darkness, and meditating until 6:30 was perhaps the best time all day for me. It became spiritual, meditating with 300 people in darkness knowing the world is awakening. This will inspire me to do this in my old age. I abandoned my flashlight that first day, feeling it was too artificial and spoiled the moment.
Upon completing this first meditation of the day we walk outside to watch the sun rise. It was as if we commanded to rise for us. Then enjoy our first meal of the day, hot oatmeal, and fruits and tea. We meditate again starting an ending each time hearing Pali chants of good will and Buddha teachings, all of which are translated by the teacher in dharma talks at night at the end of day. I did not find having no food after 12 noon a problem, and even asked my teacher if I should decline the 5pm fruits offered with the tea. I drank the honey ginger tea adding lemon juice and cayenne to clean my system. I knew this work would be hard on my body. Constantly moving my leg positions, because of my knee injury that became worse and so swollen. I had to meditate in a chair the remaining time there, a first, that helped to remind me that everything changes in life.
On the third day, I wished love on all those around me trying to help me work on this heavy meditation while focusing the mind on a smaller area below the nose. We did break almost every hour, to walk and stretch. One break in the morning I saw some signs of he mind sharpening noticing the beauty of a slight breeze on small weed stalks. It left me mesmerized like on an acid trip. I did not find it hard to not talk, by my hyper-vigilance caused by my loss of sensation on left side made me look around more than they would have liked violating the noble silence. They never talked to me about this but I did mention to my teacher when approached in the evening my brain injury caused me to develop other heightened senses. I thought I should wear blinders, and realized there why monks used to wear hoods.

On the third day of watching my breath, I did have one quick moment of dissolving into white space and back into my body. Meanwhile, I found tears flowing from my eyes during meditation. No sobs or other signs of being upset, just a natural way of cleansing your deep soul. And it was never related to any one specific image of past events. We were working on our root mind from which we base every craving or aversion we encounter. If we approach everything in life that happens to us equally we will be less likely to suffer and be much happier. That is the calm mind, I am working towards. We were to take this concept into our body while meditating applying to pains and bland boring areas on the fourth day. That night 3 guys left the room by the time I had returned that evening. My guess two of the younger ones were not patient enough and the other was getting sick.
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