At lunch on day six, after the learnings of the morning session on aversion and craving causing misery and suffering and the ignorance of the mind to reaction, impermanence and balance; I took a walk to the pond. Having looked in that pond for a number of days now, I could not see any fish.
I knew there must be fish in there, as it was such a wonderfully healthy pond. I also notice some pond skaters that sat on the surface but never once did I see them moving. So that day I decided to be very still and use my new technique to enable me to see what I’d been unable to see until now.
Utilising The Vipassana Technique
There was no-one else around and as I stood very still. I felt a pressure sensation on my foot. I took my awareness and observation to that area and done a sweep of observation over it. Wow…as if by magic the pressure sensation disappeared; arising and passing
(anicca). It’s at this point we usually move our feet to get relief from the pressure/pain, without thinking. The automatic response of our mind is aversion. This was amazing to observe and practice and I had my eyes opened watching the pond.
Just at that amazing moment a tiny fish followed by others started to come out of their hiding places…wow. Then the pond skaters started skating around the surface and to top it all, a spider came down her web to have a look at her surroundings. It was a magical moment to realise that it was my stillness both on the inside and outside, that was allowing me to see things that were happy in that vibration of safety.
I wondered away from that pond a very happy, balanced and very calm woman, understanding the power of human beings and the power of practicing this amazing Vipassana technique in purity of mind!
Encounter Of The Marsupial Kind
I wondered up the hill through plants and trees, marvelled as I often did, at the magnificence of nature and how good it makes me feel. I practice awareness/mindfulness everyday but today was even more special, as I was truly experiencing it from a different space.
Walking up towards the meditation hall heading back to my room I saw a Kangaroo. They often grazed in this area and I had watched them on a number of occasions with my peers.
A few days before, around 6:30, I had observed at a distance a Joey coming out of mums pouch, all gangly and trying to hop around then falling over. I had laughed inside at how ungainly it was and it had jumped out bobbed around and fell over twice. It was a wonderful sight to see.
This time it was just one mother who was grazing on her own, which was unusual as they are normally together. You could see the Joey was in her pouch by the size and movement and also two feet sticking out. 😆
I walked up to the rail and lent against it as I observed her grazing on the juiciest and newest grass. She avoided all the weeds apart from one leafy one, which was obviously tasty. Clever girl!
Again I could feel the pressure build up on my foot, also where my back was hitting the railing. Again I swept my awareness over those areas, as I keep watching this amazing marsupial. I was able to stay perfectly still and not have any pain build up. I found this fascinating and brilliant fun to play with.
The Roo got closer and closer and closer to me, as I stood still with a great big smile on my face. I could easily touch her if I had wanted but I realised that to try and touch her was again just a reaction to a craving, so instead I just stood still with respect to this wonderful creature and moment. Then…wow…the Joey; who takes its lead from the mother’s vibrations to fear by either staying in the pouch or sneak a peek out, popped it’s head right out the pouch and looked right at me as if to say “who are you?” or “what are you?” I just had to laugh but I didn’t flinch.
At that moment I cried for the first time on this course, tears of deep, deep joy! I was sure that I would cry and expected to be crying from day one from pain but this was with joy and it was day 6….wow!!!
I decided to sit down beside these two and at that point mum righted herself, stopped chewing and looked right at me, while Joey sensing mum, popped straight back into the pouch. I looked away from them and sat in the grass right next to them, keeping my eyes averted, then mum resumed eating and Joey then appeared about a half a metre from my face. What joy! This was such an astounding technique on many, many levels including on a practical level. I stayed there for quite some time with mum and bub. Feeling blissful and blessed.
An Aside with Fran & Anna
As an aside, I had promised to tell you of the funny made up scene in my head, that involve the two women I called Fran & Anna.
It was at a 5pm tea time one day when we only have herbal tea and if you were a new student you were allowed some fruit that was portioned out for you. I was sitting drinking my tea when I noticed Fran with a different sort of plate that had a plate lid too. I was intrigued as we were only allowed fruit?
Fran lifted the lid. I notice there was something flat sitting on the plate. Fran lifted the flat thing up to her mouth and took a bite…snap and crackle was the loud noise, and no it wasn’t Rice Krispies. 😂
As I watched, I realised it was rice. It was a rice crackers, two rice crackers to be exact. There was something in the middle of them, which looked like Vegemite. I sat pondering the whole scene observing everything and I realised unlike me this woman was very slim and probably had a high metabolism, so that’s why she couldn’t go too long without food.
Next day again at 5pm tea time, I was quietly drinking my tea when Fran sat down with here plate and lid, at the bottom table facing my table at the top of the room. Just a few moment later Anna sat right next to Fran, only this time Anna also had a plate and lid, just like Fran. My curiosity was sparked once more. As Anna was of the same stature as Fran, I realised she also could not fast for long periods of time.
Both Fran & Anna sat facing the whole room at the bottom table, I started to from a comedy scene in my head. As I casually looked around the room I noticed that everyone else, apart from Fran & Anna, were all facing down the room towards Fran & Anna. No-one else was facing us.
As I double check this, I started to observe that we were all watching Fran & Anna eat at the forbidden time to eat. It was as if we were all made to sit watching two others eat ‘real’ food as we drank our tea. I had the dialogue running in my head from an imaginary guard behind us all saying, “you WILL watch these two women eating, as your punishment for having too much on your plates at breakfast and lunch.” 😂 😂 😂
I digress…back to that blissful afternoon.
Entering the meditation Hall for one of the afternoon sessions, I was in a blissful state of being. I took my place and started Vipassana practice once more with renewed vigour. I was sweeping my back and observing my butt sankharas, diligently going up and down my bodkin observation.
All of a sudden, the only way I can explain it, is that it was like an actual curtain of serene calmness fell down around me. At first I was like; what the hell is this. As I continued to observe it, I realised that this was a very new sensation
that I was experiencing and was in wonder at it. I realised that my body had dissipated but it was unlike anything I had experienced before. When my body does this in other meditations, there is always an awareness that my body is there but I can barley feel it….a bit like it’s numb. However this was different I couldn’t really feel my body at all, just a lovely nothingness and slight vibration to it.
As I observed it, I realised that the curtain had only dropped to my waist and that my butt was still on fire with painful sankharas. Albeit less painful than the morning session. That was the very moment!!! Yes you guessed it…. I went from observation into craving this beautiful serene, tranquility, especially for my butt area. I also went into aversion of having the painful sankharas in my butt too…oh boy, yet again a double whammy. It is astonishing just how easy the old patterns of the mind take hold. And yes you know what happened then…I went from experiencing this gorgeous tranquility, to it disappearing as quickly as it came!
Another great lesson learned and I checked with the teacher, my first true experience of the first stage of Nibbana/Nirvana…wow what a day!
Next Blog: Snake Encounter Of The Penultimate Kind
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.