A brief summary of my “failed” attempt at a Meditation Retreat.
Firstly – This is not a ridicule of the Retreat or of the philosophy of Vipassana Meditation. I’m sure for those able to persevere it can & is a life changing experience. – Just that it was not for me.
Why did I go? – Sometimes the mind just runs in silly circles & I had hoped to “train it” – or maybe that should be to tame it!
Why did I quit after 4 days & not stay for 10? –
– A day started at 4am being woken by the gong – I love that deep sounding gong! – by 4.30 am one had to be meditating for 2 hours with eyes closed & whole of mind focused on the incoming and outgoing breath as it passed through the nostrils! – this was broken into 1-2hr blocks for 12 hours a day for the 1st 3 days. The rest of the time was for eating/resting. One was not allowed any reading or writing materials at all – There was a 5 minute loop walk – around & around one could take with downcast eyes.
Breakfast was at 6.30 am – much the same as what we eat at home – Rolled oats/fruit/ toast if you wanted/ tea.
Lunch was at 11am – Vegetarian stew/rice/noodles/salad leaves/Chinese style vegetable soup/tea.
The food was really quite nice, well prepared & nutritious.
Dinner was at 5pm – a cold apple & orange & a cup of tea.
It was cold, very cold – and a cold apple & orange for dinner on a very cold evening just was quite depressing for me – nice apples & oranges, yes, very fresh & crisp, even enjoyed a Delicious Apple, my least favorite variety of apple!!
SUPREME SILENCE also undid me – Not allowed to speak to anyone, look at anyone, acknowledge anyone in any way! – The lady that had a room next to mine wore the same type of walking boots as me – had she gone missing & the police wanted a description that is all I would have been able to tell them! Not being allowed to say “Thank you” if someone held a door for you, say to anyone, “by gosh it’s very cold”, “where do you come from” ect. – I think if I stayed the distance this may have been allowed on the last day
I missed my animals so much (and Ken & Catherine) – 2nd morning I had my self a pity party, so homesick it was crazy, you would have thought I was a kid away from home for the first time ever! Sobbed & sobbed!! – Missed just a few moments of focusing on my ingoing & outgoing breath in that 2 hours of meditating! I pulled myself to-gether & tried very hard for the remainder of the day to focus on my breath going in & out!
The philosophy of Vipassana aligns with all basic religions – love & respect of all living beings and the earth that we live on. But, when it came to no killing, that meant I could not be a farmer anymore, as if we sell stock to be slaughtered, then we are in essence killing – and what to do about the occasional animal that is suffering & needs to be “put down”? –
Of course my hearing deficit didn’t help matters! – That was eventually solved by putting me in the bi-lingual room with headphones on listing to the translation in English! – As this was just for a “sermon” of about a hour in the evening, and maybe a 5 minute lecture in the morning on “breathe in & out through the nostrils & feel the breath as it passing by your nostrils” I did save a lot on hearing aid batteries over those few days.!
Nor did my arthritic hips help – I was kindly given a plastic picnic chair with the legs cut off so I didn’t have to sit on the floor, but still very close to it! I have never been good at sitting or standing still! – I probably have learnt to sit still for 10 minutes or so now – maybe even more! A couple of other elderly women were also allowed this luxury –
All this “deprivation” (whoops, wrong word) focus is to heighten ones awareness of ones senses!. I reckon I would have been a “real crazy bird” had I lasted the 10 days – As I was driving home I was listening to the radio & laughed out aloud – WOW, I nearly stopped the car & rang Ken just to tell him how good it sounded!
Would I do another meditation retreat? – yes, I probably would, but only if I could talk sometimes, communicate sometimes, take a book to read, sometimes, and be able to go for a decent walk without being locked in by invisible guard rails. And have something more for dinner that a bit of cold fruit on a very cold evening
I did learn lots – perhaps not what I expected to learn!! It is so awesomely wonderful to be at home, and to be loved by husband, family & animals (well, they act is if they love me!), and full of plans to get the “Wardell Farmhouse at Barcoos” up & running by the September School Holidays. To be home today to welcome back one the very special families to visit, to share the joy of seeing this special little person loving every moment with our animals and how much she has progressed in the last 12 months. – No, I don’t feel as if I failed at all, I sucked & what I tasted didn’t suit me, that’s all.
Having lunch tomorrow with a special very old friend – nooo, she’s not old, just been around me a long time – we are going to laugh lots about my “meditation experience” – Yes, stuff that I would not be game to write here!!