My Mind Fights Back
While the days inside the Vipassana center blurred into each other, I remember that day 3, 5 and 7 were especially difficult for me.
There were days of deep concentration and peacefulness, but these were also days when my mind’s old habits fought back to re-assert themselves. Doubts, agitation, aggression, my mind threw everything at me to rebel against this insistence on quietude and focus.
I remember being so worked up on those days that I couldn’t even sit still to meditate. I had to get up and walk around or sweep the grounds to work all the energy off. One day I just laid there and watched the doubts and frustration storm past my mind as they worked themselves out.
But in the end, they helped me learn a lot about myself and life.
The Truth About Your Mind
I learned much more about Buddhism during this journey and I loved how pragmatic the teachings were. There’s this insistence that you do not take their word for anything just because, that you should always experience things for yourself to see if it works for you.
During meditation, I experienced on a gut level for myself that mind and consciousness are not the same thing. We tend to identify so much with our mind; ‘I am feeling this’, ‘I am wanting that’, ‘I am feeling frustrated about his’, when it’s not really us, but our mind that’s leading us on.
If you just slow down and take the time to observe, it’s easy to see what an animal the untamed mind can be. In the span of a minute, it spawns an immense number of thoughts, without even finishing one it can start another unrelated thought. Without being aware, our consciousness just gets strung along.
The truth of it all is that the mind is nothing more than a tool. It’s a tool just like the body is a tool. If you don’t master the urges of your body, you become a tool of your body instead of the other way around, and it goes the same way for the mind.
You’ve probably heard this said before — heck, I heard this said so many times before — but it’s only when I sat down and spent the time to be aware did I experience this on a gut level. Without this gut level experience, all knowledge is useless. If knowledge doesn’t change the way you live your life, it’s useless; nothing more than mental entertainment.
Enlightening Evening Talks
The evening video discourses by S.N. Goenka were a real treat. I’d expected him to be a very serious and severe man, but his discourses were always entertaining and wise. I never reckoned a master of meditation would like to crack so many jokes, but he brought his points across very well.
He explained many facets of Buddhism and showed us how we could experience these principles for ourselves through meditation, in that way the Buddhist principles came alive instead of staying intellectual games.
What Did I Get from 10 Days of Silence?
Lots of people ask me what I got from keeping silent for 10 days sitting down. It’s hard to describe because I learned so many lessons, and also because it’s like explaining what chocolate ice-cream tastes like to someone who’s never had it.
I’d say go and experience it for yourself but it’s not for everyone, and yes, it was very difficult. In my next post, I do my best to share what I learned.