A few years ago I went for Vipassana meditation. The first course of Vipassana meditation camp involves staying at the centre for 10 days in complete silence. You have to give up your phone and all sorts of expression and communication with the outer world. So you cannot read or write as well. It is also recommended to not engage in any sort of worship for these 10 days. The idea is that through meditation you connect with your inner world. In addition, you get only 2 meals a day – breakfast and lunch along with a snack. This helps slow down your metabolism as well as help you sit for 10 hours a day as you aren’t doing anything else. The whole idea of being cut off with the world for 10 days was a bit daunting but also created a nervous excitement about how will I cope with such strict rules.
Surprisingly, I completed the entire course rather effortlessly. Yes, there were instances when I dozed off during early morning meditation or felt a little disoriented at times with too much meditation. Overall, it went rather smoothly. I did not experience major hunger pangs or cravings for communication.
There is one experience that has stayed with me and has benefitted me immensely.
After 3 days of concentrating on our breath, we were asked to sit for 45 minutes of meditation with a strong determination of not moving at all. I thought that this would be easy so I made the determination and sat down for meditation. We were in a big hall with hundreds of people. As soon as I started my meditation, a big ant crept up on my neck and stung me just below my clavicle. I was immediately distracted from my meditation, my entire attention was on the ant and the burning sensations in my neck and upper chest area. My immediate reaction was to remove the ant, but that would have meant moving. I didn’t want to move so I decided to brace the pain and the sensations while continuing with my meditation.
Surprisingly, after a few minutes of discomfort the sensations died down. I felt a numbness in that area. So while my mind was entangled in that, I had at least managed to not move or distract my body.
Somehow this little incident has stayed with me. Every time, I am faced with a crisis in life I am reminded of the ant and its bite. Until now, I haven’t really made much of this incident. But recently, it just dawned on me that the ant appeared in my meditation to teach me a big lesson about how to practice Vipassana in daily life as we go through events. Just like the ant’s bite, life too can sting but if we choose not to react in an automated fashion but with intelligence we can turn that crisis into an opportunity.
The practice of Vipassana tries to teach that no matter the events of life – good or bad – we must deal with them with equanimity. The situations in life will not always favour us but what matters is how we respond to the situations. It is our own reaction to the situations that shape our experience and feeling of it.
Now whenever I am faced with a crisis situation, I try to pause before reaction. I try to shape my reaction in a manner so that I can get a positive outcome of a situation. I am not always successful but I try. It gives me a sense of peace when I try to respond in a positive manner to a situation, rather than let anger or negativity lead my life. A little bit of kindness and love go a long way in shaping our life.