By day six, I was well into the routine of our 10hr meditation day, observing excruciating pain and other sensations, rest periods and dining. I made a point of getting up as soon as the 4am deep sounding bell went…feeling very grateful to the old student who got up earlier to go
around ringing that bell (old Student is someone who has already completed a 10 day course)…having a shower, dressing and heading to the meditation hall for the 4:30am two hour meditation. You could meditate in your room, but I knew if I stayed there I would be tempted to sleep longer and not put the work in I had promised myself. I actually loved being in the hall at this time because it was dark and there were only ever a few of us there doing our bit for ourselves.
What’s The Pain: What’s a Sankhara?
It was in one of the morning sessions after breakfast that I was sitting observing what S.N. Geonka called Sankharas (formations). Sankharas are; the mental formation, the mental conditioning, the mental reactions that we create, in most cases unwittingly and in ignorance. Our past reactions become our reference, by which we interpret new situations. We judge and categorise our past Sankharas, then unsuspectingly slot these new sankharas into whatever category we deem fit.
So I was observing what I’d put into my body through old impurities that had lay dormant and were now arising for me, from my non-conscious to the surface and manifesting themselves into a physical sensation. Most people think that consciousness and non-consciousness are only in our heads, only because when talked about most speak of them as part of the head brain. Our consciousness and non-consciousness are everywhere: in our bodies and around our bodies. So I was observing what my non-consciousness had been holding onto.
When we observe these Sankahras (these physical sensations) from a place of equanimity (balance), no aversion for them to go and no craving for them to stay, just being in awareness and observing the changes, we do not create new Sankharas and allow the old ones to eradicate. We are now equanimous (neutral/balanced) unlike when we were producing these Sankharas.
We are meant to work up and down the body looking for sensations and not missing any area. Only stopping for short periods on more intense areas. Some sensations were solid and others were light.
Distracted By The Pain
As I sat there working away on my body sensations, I was being pulled more to the extreme solid pain sensations, which were attracting my attention more than the more subtle sensations.
For everyone in the room, we all had different areas that our aversions and cravings are stored in our body, pains and pressure as well as tingle and itching etc. So for me my back and shoulders were painful and my butt/bottom/bum/arse, whatever you want to call it, was in severe pain. However for all of us, I have no doubt that we were all feeling immense pain in our posterior as we were all seated upright.
No-one was allowed to lay down, there were special floor seats for those with back issues and some could use the back wall as a support but everyone was on their bum.
My theory on why they have you in this seated position, although I have not checked with them, is that we carry most of our pain from past life and childhood up to the age of 7, in our base chakra and as we are sitting on the base then there is plenty aversion and craving sankharas stored there, to come out.
I watched people using three to four cushions to try and alleviate the pain but no matter how many pillows you put under that butt, it feels like you’re sitting for hours on a very hard piece of wood or concrete.
I worked away on observing my butt sankharas, while sweeping my shoulders and back sankharas…you can sweep sankharas that are similar in feel and symmetrical. Sweeping is about sweeping your attention/observation/awareness over an area of your body. When you observe you become so aware of just how much the body is changing. The sankharas come and go, rise and pass, in constant change. This is what is so amazing to perceive.
As I observed my very painful butt sankharas, I noticed, some were very sharp and very deep, some were very quick to come up to the surface, others seem to take forever and of course those were always the most painful.
I wondered what events or moments had created these sankharas, that I had thought or acted very badly towards others or myself in thought or deed. On observing some of these physical manifestations of my impure thoughts and deeds, I realised that some of the really dense, heavy, long and particularly painful sankharas were not just one long pain as I had first observed.
I became aware by studying these sankhara that they were very intense, fairly small sankhara that would intensify in pain then as they are about to pass a new dense really painful sankhara arose right behind it to create what felt like a continuous pain. It was like a train shunting into a new carriage to make one long continuous carriage.
The Lesson Through Laughter
There was a new noise in the meditation hall this day, again from the men’s section…not sure if was the same guy who was heavily breathing that I mentioned in my last blog?
This time as we sat in silence and stillness, all of a sudden there was what sounded like a snoring noise. I thought I had been mistaken when the same noise happened again and this time you knew it was a snore. This happened four times and I broke into an enormous smile. It’s one coping mechanism for the ego to go into protection mode and stop the body pain. Then came the noise that we all knew and made me laugh inside. That noise when you have drifted off and unbeknown to you you’re snoring, followed by the snort that awakens you with a startle…it was loud and clear, he had woken himself and that stopped his snoring for now. 😁
This was my lesson to stay equanimous through awareness and observation and not allow my ego to run away with me.
What Happens to the Pain When You Just Observe?
There was one Sankhara that I was observing; it was about 10cm in diameter and felt like a red hot poker being driven down into my body…the weird thing was how it felt like it was being pushed into my core which is up, but this was a feeling of downward motion. So I’m not sure where it was driving down to!
I was obsessively observing this red hot poker; how long it was, it’s thickness, the heat intensity, the type of pain it was causing, the length of the pain.
At no time did I link my emotion or mind to it. It wasn’t ‘MY pain’ or the ‘pain I was in’ or even the ‘pain that they had put ME in,’ because this is allowing the mind to control the emotions to become involved. You then become a victim when you own it. No, I stayed in equanimity/balance, neither craving the end of the pain nor trying to move away from the pain.
As I was concentrating so fiercely, the pain became so intense and seemed to be lasting forever. At that point I got a thought that maybe I was being too obsessive and that I may even be harming myself, so I pulled myself away from the deep close observation to an umbrella viewing and puff…it came up to meet me and just disintegrated into nothing!!!
Wowwwwww!!!! Now that was an experience. I went back to observing other Sankharas when all of a sudden I could feel various areas in my butt popping. It was like the sankharas were popcorn kernels all hard, but then would pop into soft and fluffy. It was a very weird and wonderful sensation and they were doing it of their own accord. I was trying to view them as they popped.
Then just at that moment it was as if I was sitting on a lovely fluffy cloud, so soft and comfortable.
At this moment I was still observing and as I realised how nice this was to be free from pain I felt a small painful sankhara rise, then another, then another. At this point I reacted and went into battle.
Do you remember those games you used to get at funfairs? They were either moles or gophers (the mole ones were called whack-a-mole) where you would wait for the mole to pop it’s head out of the hole and you would hit it with a mallet. Well that’s what I started to do with the these new painful sankharas. I would follow them all over my arse saying sankhara, sankhara, sankhara as I pretended to hit them on the head. I got carried away and before I knew it they were multiplying at a much faster rate than I could keep up with.
Again I pulled myself away from reacting and stopped to think what was happening. Yes you guessed it! I had moved from equanimity into craving for the new lovely, fluffy sensation and then tried to avoid the pain by trying to ‘kill’ it off. Allowing my mind to take control I had started reacting to my emotions…I was so out of balance.
Worst point was I had multiplied these new painful sankhara so much that my arse was back to burning up and many, many painful sankharas now rising and falling, arising and falling. I had to laugh at myself for following old patterns of aversion and craving ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha!
I am truly grateful for the tools I have; ‘The 4R’s Release Model®,‘ ‘The 3 Keys to Eliminate Your Shite™’ and ‘Decision Making Made Easy™’. Over the years these tools have helped many of my clients, audiences, family and friends to live happier and lighter lives. I also use my own tools and to be honest, I dread to think what my Vipassana experience would have been like without eliminating so much of my own shite before I went into this 10 day experience! 🙏🏼
Mind Control, Pain, & Misery
I was truly stunned at how easy it was for me to fall into old patterns. The patterns of avoidance and clinging. Our mind controls us and holds us in ignorance every day and we don’t even realise it. Our mind keeps us in misery and suffering. We think we are in control but it is just an illusion.
We spend our days reacting, reacting, reacting, based on old experiences. Our days are spent building up new sankharas, new painful sensations that settle in our body.
Now, I have a way, a method to allow these sankharas to surface and eradicate without replacing them or multiplying them…the meditation called Vipassana. I now have a way to liberation…what we all seek!
As I left that meditation session I was in awe of the learning, growth and teaching of my experience, which I pondered over lunch. Wow…what an experience I’ve just been through!
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.