What is Vipassana meditation? This little poem may give you a better idea of this powerful technique’s goals.
“Good to have mastery of speech,
good to have physical mastery,
but one who is master of his mind
is a warrior of real courage.”
These were the words revealed to meditators on the day 4 during a ten day Vipassana meditation course that I completed just a few days ago. These words reflect precisely the spirit of anyone who makes it their goal to purify the mind and live happier and more meaningful life. I got to know about it from the online course “Buddhism and Modern Psychology” on Coursera, one place to be for anyone who loves learning pretty much about anything.
Here is the link to the course if you are interested, go to coursera
Vipassana means “insight” in Pali, the language that the enlightened Gotanama Buddha spoke. Through hours of dedicated meditation he found the roots of suffering and the way to end it twenty five centuries ago. Thanks to the mons of Birma, the technique was preserved and brought to India and than the whole world by S.N. Goenka.
Although I had a fair idea what was coming my way and expected a few things out of such as having better self control and finding inner peace, this course has affected me so much more than I could imagine. In a nutshell, meditators learn to observe their breath and sensations objectively, without craving or aversion.This helps not to react impulsively and rewire your mental modules and if all precepts are followed correctly both during the course and after, in “real life”, meditators can achieve Nibbana(the pali for a more popular Nirvana in sanskrit), a state with no more suffering, desire and sense of self. However, this is the ultimate goal only few achieve through many lives according to the theory of reincarnation in Buddhism.
So how did my days look like? Well, we had to wake up at as early as 4 am, way before roosters praised the sun and pious muslims woke up for their first prayer, fajr. We had more than ten hours mediation daily and ate only vegetarian food. We observed Noble Silence, and could not communicate with each other neither verbally nor with gestures. Phones were taken away on day zero, no books and writing diaries were allowed either. The environment was created so that every meditator would shift their attention inward and observe their inner world instead of focusing on what is happening outside. The technique was revealed to us gradually and our teacher patiently explained what was not clear to us.
With all my heart I can say that this experience was very challenging both physically and mentally. I broke down a few times, I cried in despair, I experienced so much pain from sitting still but I did it. And after iI learnt not to run away from pain or fears but rather to observe it remembering of Anicca, or impermanence, I became so much stronger and my mind became sharper. I do realise that this course is not a magic wand and I have a long way to go, yet when I faced the real world with its hectic flow of cars, people and words, I had a tool that helped me to go through it with less suffering. The technique, that reminds me to observe and not identify with sensations and feelings, always remembering that “This too shall pass”.
To learn more about Vipassana meditation check out the official website Dhamma
May you all find inner balance and happiness.