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visitors since May 12, 2002
May 31, 2004
Ten days, reduced to two words

A good few years ago I sat in a hall in the Blue Mountains for ten days. I was doing the Vipassana meditation course, which involved not speaking for the first nine and a half days, and then chatting up all the women I'd been looking at for the previous, well, nine and a half days.

Every morning we were woken at 4am by a handstruck bell, and silently invited to attend the first meditation session of the day, which went for an exhausting two hours in the pre-dawn darkness. On the first morning, doing my best to take the course seriously, I got up and slowly shuffled into the hall.

A few moments later, the teacher started the session by thanking us for joining him. This seemed slightly puzzling until he revealed that this session was optional. (There were six compulsory hours of meditation every day, but the early morning session wasn't one of them.) I immediately shot a rueful glance at the door, and spent the next two hours meditating on what I'd left behind: a warm bed.

The morning after that, and for all subsequent mornings of my time there, I stayed in bed as long as possible. I only attended the compulsory sessions, and spent as much time as I could lying down. In this way, I managed to survive the course. I didn't become a black belt meditator, but I also didn't do what a couple of people did, which was jump the fence in the middle of the night and bolt back to civilisation.

Every night, after a meagre dinner, we watched a video of Vipassana's founder, a small gentleman who spoke slowly and burped often. He discussed a wide variety of topics, and at one point said that our presence at the course meant that we had "dipped a toe in the Ganges of reality." He also had a couple of catchphrases to do with the technique of meditation, and which were perhaps applicable to other areas of life.

"Start again," he would say, "start again."

     Posted by Sean Hegarty at 06:07 PM in the Reflective category | Comments (1)
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