I decided to dedicate 10 days of my life to find out what is this all hustle about with so well known, and spreading everywhere in recent years, meditation. I didn't know much what I was going to experience there, what should I expect or whether to prepare myself somehow (physically/mentally). I didn't take much care about arming myself with any above mentioned information or preparations whatsoever, just to go with the flow, experience whatever it was going to bring. And endure the entire 10-days period without talking, which seemed to me the most challenging and incredibly unthinkable thing to surrender myself to. Considering my short-tempered and impulsive personality there was something to be worried about, most of all because I didn't want to ruin someone's meditation while couldn't resist to say a word. Or from the other hand, and more likely to happen, I didn't want to burst inside out during this demanding process..;)
What I found after not a long while was that this was actually the most pleasant, tranquilizing and keeping very alert part of the course. First 3 days – a lot of breathing. Observing in-breath - coming in and out-breath - going out. Instructions are given and alterations provided. Everyday is summarized with a discourse – recorded 1-hour speeches of Sri Goenka. Loads of everyday's work, training ones capacity of concentration, upright sitting and rigorous schedule (from 4am to 9pm). Everything carefully prepared and organized for the biggest benefit of the students.
Yet, after 3 days we realized... that we haven't even started with Vipassana practice..;) That was just a preparation, to take us there with a very sharp mind, very attentive and working hard on thoughts coming up again and again relentlessly. So far focusing on the breath was playing the key role in the whole effort. This was taking us to the point of great awareness of this constant, never stopping movement. During this process of observation you realize that it's the most basic and obvious law of nature - it's always there (you are aware of it or not), BUT it arises and passes away, unceasingly. It's never the same for its biochemical structure and even if always there, in different intensity, depth and temperature, yet always comes and passes away, again and again. Being focused on it keeps one with the reality of the current moment. It's essential so one could realise of the habit pattern of the mind – we all keep our attention on the past (imposible to modify) or future, which is unattainable until it reaches the present. Therefore we don't live in the present, everything else is either past or non-existent, we can't control it or change it, which makes us feel miserable and holds agitated, impatient, uncertain (etc.). Outside and within the framework of the body – there're different things going on. The latter one is directly bound to one's mind, though the former – each individual has a different view of it. Both, nevertheless, have the same characteristic of arising and passing away, alternating without one's control against desires or aversion. One finds out that everything is in constant movement, flow and doesn't stop changing even if it seems otherwise.
All steady features are just apparent, implicit, confusing our mind which tends to cling to this illusion of permanence. Vipassana teaches you how to get out of the habit pattern of the mind, take a step back and observe without negative or craving reaction to sensations that our body experiences every moment. The result – balanced and harmonious life, without constant unsteadiness and muddling between strong feeling of aversion (towards things that make us feel angry, sad, unpleasant), or, from the other hand but equally dangerous, feeling of addictive craving, for things that we always need (more and more, better and better, actually never good enough). It's an insatiable, blind circle that's always to be a multiplication of people's unhappiness and suffering.
Therefore, nothing in nature is as it seems from the superficial level, one has to go deeper. That was a fascinating, but very hard, uneven and not such a straightforward journey into the deeper layers of consciousness. We were not allowed to speak, we couldn't read, work out, mix the practice with any other types of mental/physical exercises and contact with the outside world. All for good though, cause it actually helped to practice well, without disturbances and as we were asked to. I didn't miss any types of entertainment, in fact one has not much time to think of it, at the end ;)
After the 10-days course finished, we were introduced to another technique of short meditation that enhances Vipassana and were recommended to practice twice a day with understanding, what is sure to bring possitive results. Nevertheless one should not expect his life changes completely, sometimes changeovers are very small. I've noticed mines, but still lot of work before getting on a harmonious track of the mind :) I'm actually slightly struggling with the reality and facing back my, collected all life, habits and defilements. It happens that the mind is very tricky and realizing how big ppl's ego is, is tremendous and actually fairly surreal. What's important is to be aware of the nature of the mind – in this very moment, remembering that the past is just a memory, it doesn't influence present state directly and the future hasn't happened yet, it must become present to crystallize...
The course reveals a lot of issues. but either way, each one has to experience it oneself and get to one's own conclusions. It's definitely worth it! It takes time to get visible, touchable benefits from practicing this technique of meditation, but they're meant to be certain. The only prerequisite is to do it seriously and with understanding. For me personally it was a very intense course, in terms of discipline and self-breakthrough, but definitely a challenge worth undertaking.
That's been a very brief summary of my experience; not too many details though, deliberately, cause disclosing it simply doesn't make sense and influences one's insight when the time comes.
So...this is it. I'm looking forward to the next course, whenever I'll find myself in a proper place and time.
For any of you interested in taking up this experience, definitely worth it, here are the places where you can do so:
Slow down, 'look' inside and be happy ! :)