Over the years, I have had some definite moments of epiphanies that have revealed myself to me. However, the year 2021 has been remarkably significant. Between the Lake Tilicho trek that I undertook in April and the Vipassana Course that I undertook in September, I have truly discovered a small but real part of me.
On certain days, the arduousness of the trek shook me from within and has left lasting realizations of human connect and grit. While the 10-day Vipassana course, with its exhaustion and exhilaration settled everything within and has left the profound realization of absolute equanimity. What I am sharing here are the not abstract concepts of meditation but a true account of my ten-day personal journey.
I have never felt such indescribable bliss and such indebtedness to anyone in my life, as I felt on the seventh day of Vipassana with uncontrollable tears overflowing my eyes. Tears of gratitude for Guruji Shri S.N. Goenkaji. For, he not only taught and showed the path of truth but made me experience that existential truth at the very physical, conscious and unconscious level at the same time.
However, there were six gruelling days before reaching on the seventh. In those first six days, I went through constant distraction – oscillating between past and future, frustration, impatience, doubt, fear and self-loathing. When I would sit for Vipassana, there was a desire to experience the extraordinary too soon. Incidents from the past would come up and stir unpleasant memories. Anxiety, irritation, sadness would all creep in unknowingly. And then suddenly, a deep voice (of Guruji’s recorded audio) would remind you that it is this very anxiety and craving that you are here to get rid of. Those reminders go a long way in realigning one’s focus.
Vipassana is applied meditation that teaches you to see the physical manifestation of the hand in glove working of your sensory organs, conscious mind and unconscious mind – cognition, perception, sensation and reaction. Over persistent and patient efforts, you start becoming aware of every minute sensation on your body – pleasant and unpleasant – pricks, throbs, shivers, itches, pains, tingles, tickles, coolness, warmth, etc. It’s the most unexpected enlightenment that dispels the ignorance we have lived with for all the years. The aim is to become the observer and not the indulger of each rising and falling sensation, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant. Sure enough, as one switches in the observer’s role, all the emotions inevitably begin to lose their strangulating grip over you.
As this entire process unfolds in your own body, the experience is intriguing and more than surreal. Over several hours of determined hard work, there came a moment on the seventh day when there were only subtle vibrations flowing through every inch of my body at tremendous velocity. Like a conveyor belt of menthol running within every atom of my being. In that sublime moment, I felt completely whole and completely dissolved at the same time with tears streaming down at its own course. A state of perfect equanimity and harmony, sat-chit-anand, where there wasn’t the slightest craving to hold on to that ecstasy neither was there any fear of losing it. I could just be.
I am not penning my experience as a trophy of some accomplishment but with a sincere hope that it shall inspire some readers to do it too. Also, as a reminder to myself that such a perfect state of calmness is not an intangible intellectual or spiritual idea. It is my own real experience that I must strive to live every single day. However, I would like to clarify that this was my personal journey and every meditator’s experience is very different and distinct. So, it would be grossly inappropriate and misleading to generalize my impressions or build any expectations of it.
For me, the most beautiful part of Vipassana came on the tenth day as we practiced Mangal Maitri – the sharing and giving of pure compassion and well-being to every person and creature in this world. This fountain of unblemished love and kindness naturally springs in your content state of heart which you want to partake with others.
After Vipassana, I am much more at peace with myself and the world around me. This peace hasn’t made me dispassionate in my endeavours, responsibilities or enjoyments. It hasn’t made me more passionate also. But it has made me more joyous and less fearful. I feel a lightness in my heart and a light in my mind. And to sum it up, I’ll borrow Rumi’s quote as did another meditator, “I am not a drop in the ocean, but an entire ocean in a drop.”
Image Credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXtpRebjinU