12 May, 2019

The 4th 30-day Vipassana – Wisdom Creeps In

Hardly a mature Vipassana student with my brain injury making concentration difficult, I can at least say they are some positive changes that I notice with wisdom more firmly seated. It is important for me to say this wisdom is NOT intellectual knowledge, but experiential and once seated impermanence of everything is apparent.

I am usually out walking a lot after meals or after mind storms, and even using the pagoda stairs as my stair-master, but on day 2, I decided this is all too agitating, if I want to maintain as much concentration as I can. Instead, I would either clean up the men’s dorms, rest or even sit an hour earlier than scheduled full from lunch until I needed rest, 1 ½ hours later. The wisdom signs I noted, were doubts arising and falling way faster, impermanence, Ah ha. I also attributed partly to the fact that if I quit and leave what path will I attempt next? This made it seem like a foolish idea if I reflect how far I have come, since I have already seen personality changes, and a better easier home-life. Other signs were when the mind-storms arise and have some steam, I was able to name them as craving or aversion and thus quietly let the steam out and they would fade out way faster. It did not mean, the mind-storms would necessary not have any kick, but they definitely would end way faster then previous years. I also noted that when I could not resolve them in a sit or a short walk to the bathroom and instead finally lay down, if I did fall asleep I would download one craving or aversion sankara(mental defilement) and then quickly awaken refreshed. That was new for sure and it became more and more obvious what was happening.

The few things that I should do to improve my concentration especially in anapana would be to wear a hoodie, to keep my wandering eyes down(eyes and ears are enhanced since I lost my speech the first few years with my brain injury as a compensation). It may be interesting for you readers that any loss with an injury, the body tries to compensate. Losing my left side and facial sensory nerves, and thus its proprioception lead my eyes to take care of it, instead of it happening in my brain. So this means that in order to walk and not have my left leg or arm hit anything, the eyes determined their location in space. This does not play very well when you are trying keep the mind concentrated watching the breath which in turn allows you to pin-point body sensations while you scan in a sit. I have yet to meet anyone with a simple stroke who I can compare my bi-lateral experience with. Things like focusing on the area below the nose and above the upper lip in anapana when you lost all your facial sensory nerves is very challenging, and yet on day 26 I finally felt “ants crawling” there. This can lead to losing concentration way easier than normal people. I tried writing the AT(teacher) about this, but after awhile even that seemed foolish because what could he do but send metta(loving kindness) my way same as person in the outside world. Impermanence was no longer just a concept, but actual observed reality in many forms. Another thing is being as inconspicuous as one can be, to not disturb others concentration. Awareness takes many forms. Seeing my post sit notes this time over previous 30-day sits, and building on this newly found wisdom. Combined with observed pain and pleasant sensations moving around, with even more concentration than last time. This actually reinforced my devotion and appreciation for the wisdom of Buddha. Thank you again all my dhamma brothers, some of which sat every year with me.

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