So there I was in the sub-tropical hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in Australia at a wee town called Pomona. I had arrived about two hours early for my 10 days Silent Vipassana Meditation Course. Vipassana means insight.
The course lasted 10 whole days but arriving the day before and leaving the day after meant I was away from home for 12 days.
So I wandered around this fascinating wee place full of Aussie character and history written on plaques all over town. I sat in a cafe and ate some food and drank some coffee…the last coffee I was going to have for 10 days. So I savoured it as I thought about what had brought me here and what these next few days would hold.
I felt that my gut brain knew it was the right thing for me to do right now and I was ready for it. My head brain on the other hand was shitting itself with thoughts of extreme pain and discomfort; mentally, emotionally and physically, but I had no idea how that was going to manifest and that is what is so scary for a self confessed control freak.
It was time and I headed along to the Dhamma Rasmi Centre to experience what I knew was going to be a life changing 10 days, after all, I had never shut up for that long before. I also make a living from speaking to audiences and in one on one and group coaching.
2,500 years ago, give or take, the Buddha sat down to experiment with various meditation techniques that were being taught throughout India at the time. Over many years his experiments lead him to experience Vipassana (insight – to see things as they really are).
A way to relieve all suffering and misery within, as well as observe where mind and matter meet. Purity of the mind, which ultimately purifies the body.
I checked in my purse, iPhone and car keys, never to be seen again until the final day after our full 10 days. We were to be free from all distractions; no technology, no music and no writing or reading materials. I had decided if I was taking 10 days out of my business and 10 days away from Paul (partner) and Rory (fur baby), that I was going to take this very seriously and follow all rules and commitments.
I then moved my things to my room. I was lucky enough to have a small room to myself with an en-suite area. Some people were sharing rooms…you take whatever you are given. The luxury item in every room was the electric blanket, which was needed on those chilly hinterland nights.
I met and spoke to a few of the other participants and we all sat down to a hearty meal of wonderful soup and bread. The whole 10 days you eat vegetarian food prepared and served by old students. The food was superb…and I love my food!
Old Students are those who have completed a 10 day course, however if you wish to serve others you must have completed three 10 day courses. All servers; including the manager (who you can speak to and who helps with any practical matters) and the teachers (who you can book time with at lunch and at the last meditation of the day to discuss any part of the technique), are all volunteers: Giving Dana (to share what good you have with others) service.
You pay nothing to do this course and if by the end you feel you have had some benefit then you can give Dana monetary, service and both, whatever is appropriate for you and your circumstances. Each student is paid for by previous students who have donated money and the the Trustees also use this money to build and upkeep the accommodation, grounds, buy the food, etc.
This is paying it froward at it’s best, with no expectations in return but the satisfaction of helping others. It also eradicates the egotism within us all. Receiving with grace and gratitude!
After our light meal we were given our orientation around the centre, what bell means what and a guide to what would be happening over the next day. After that it was rinse and repeat, as every day would be the same, except for day 4 and day 10 as it turned out, but that was a long way off.
- 4am – Bell goes (rung by an old Student) I was so grateful to that bell ringer!
- 4:30 – Group Meditation in the hall or in your own room
- 6:30 – Breakfast & Rest
- 8am – Group Meditation in the hall
- 9am – Group meditation in the hall or in your room according to the teachers instructions
- 11am – Lunch break
- 12pm – Rest and interviews with the teacher if needed
- 1pm – Group Meditation in the hall or in your room
- 2:30pm – Group Meditation in the hall
- 3:30pm – Group meditation in the hall or in your room according to the teachers instructions
- 5pm – Tea Break (tea and fruit bowl for new students, hot lemon water only for the old students)
- 6pm – Group Meditation in the hall
- 7pm – Teacher’s Discourse (explanation of the technique and stories to help understandings)
- 8:15pm – Group Meditation in the hall
- 9pm – Questions to teachers in the hall if you needed
- 9:30pm – Retire and lights out
This was how my next 10 days would run.
It was time for us to take the vow of Noble Silence and this was the beginning of my journey!
Vipassana (insight – seeing things as they really are) is a different experience for every individual, as we are all so unique and interpret the world around us and within us so differently. We have also had our own experiences in life that are unique to us. So this article is all about Mags Bell’s experience and self discovery through Vipassana.