Barbara is a beautiful being from Croatia, who carries around with her a bundle of energy & smiles that will melt your heart and warm your soul. She is sharing with us today her relationship with silence & stillness... May her words inspire us all! Thank you B.
I came out of my little, tiny shell and I took a step into the unknown. I opened my eyes and I saw this chaotic, scary, overwhelming at times, yet beautiful, magical place called the world. Although, I have been part of it for so many years I never had the courage to look at it with my opened eyes, to feel it with presence, willing to experience it with all my senses. Different languages, cultures, different perspective, so many colours, so many things happening. Good, evil, happiness, sadness, solitude, peacefulness, loneliness, friendship, attachment, detachment, remoteness, silence, noise, love, love, so much love. That led me to one of the most liberating, easily-understandable, practical meditation technique - Vipassana. Vipassana was discovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and it was taught by him for many many years. The Buddha had many followers who were, or still are, teaching the technique on his behalf. I have recently completed a 10 day Vipassana course in one of S.N. Goenka’s centres as a student, plus I completed two 10-day courses as a server.
S.N. Goenka is one of Buddha’s followers. He is a great teacher and a wonderful man whom I will be grateful for knowing this technique ‘til the rest of my life. He passed away in 2013 but his teachings (i.e., the Buddha's) are still alive, as he left lots of his recordings behind. He has written many Dhamma (Vipassana) books and there are also many books from other authors. If you’re willing to read about it before or even after attending the course, here are some books I recommend: ‘Art of Dying’, ‘Art of Living’ and ‘For the benefit of many’. I recommend to complete one 10-day course before reading those books in order to have a better and deeper understanding of what is written. However, if you are still unsure whether the course is for you or not have a look at them, and I am sure you will find some encouraging words written directly from Mr Goenka or other Vipassana meditators. You will also read some astonishing, life-changing stories.
A DIVE INTO VIPASSANA
So what is Vipassana and what is it not? Vipassana is not a religion, it's not a sect, it is just a way of living, a meditation technique which helps you to observe the entire physical and mental structure of oneself. To see things as they really are, not as you want them to be, but as they really are. There is no turning bad into good and vice versa, you just learn how to be in the present moment, how to cope with whatever you are experiencing.
If you’re a new student doing a 10-day course - which means spending 9 days in noble silence, meditating up to 10 hours daily, then, most likely the unbearable, ‘never-ending’ pain would hit you straight away, your legs will fall asleep, your arms too, back pain, your mind will cry for relief. But here are some good news - after some time, you would be able to just observe it, without reacting to it. It won't be that intense anymore. You will be able to create a different relationship with the sensations you're experiencing as well as emotions. And that is all that matters, a good relationship.
As soon as you start learning Vipassana you will come to an understanding that everything passes away, everything is 'anicha' on the practical level, experiential level. All the things, including self, are impermanent and constantly changing. Also, you might be so lucky that everything would go rather smoothly for you, you would experience nice feelings, pleasant sensations, however, you might find it difficult not to react to it. You are learning how to become and stay equanimous, no more cravings, no more aversion. Simply observing any sensation - any feeling that you come across; maybe hotness, coldness, itching, tickling, ants crawling, pain, movement of the wind, a touch of clothing you're wearing, it could be anything.
By observing you sharpen your awareness. The technique teaches you how to step back and watch, no matter what's happening in your mind, without reacting. The truth is that much of our misery comes from within, from the way we perceive our problems and reach to them. Practising we change the habit pattern at the deepest level of the mind.
I was, and still am, amazed by the technique and its benefits. Often I catch myself being unaware of the moment and I bring my awareness back in the present. How many times was I aware of my unawareness earlier in my life? in my childhood or teens days? probably not many. Most of the time we actually have no idea what our minds are doing, we are pulled by all kinds of forces around us, we are like robots, doing things automatically without even thinking about it. Pay attention! Whatever you're doing just pay attention. Don't try to change anything, don't try to fight anything, just pay attention. It teaches me, every single time, how to come back and be present. Fully. Completely. With presence. It changes your perspective, your views and your entire being, for the better. I've noticed some significant changes within myself, even before the first 10-day course was even finished. I dare to say that there is no person who completes a 10-days course and regrets it!
Although, it helps to be strong minded and determined to complete it...
Doing Vipassana, realising fully, on the practical level, that everything changes, helps us to deal with all negative emotions, stress, tension, depression, sadness, worries... It help us to observe our reactions to these problems which occur in our minds instead of engaging with them, holding onto them, acknowledging that these feelings are only the passing product of our minds and soon they'll become past. On a different note, meditation helps us noticing reality within oneself, around oneself. Wholeness, peacefulness, colours, beauty surrenders you, arises within you. Live an extraordinary life in very ordinary life: sitting, walking, eating, washing dishes, chopping wood, cleaning the floor... Taking things easily and simply, one at a time, enjoy it, delight in it. Go in it with your eyes-closed, both literally and figuratively.
May you live all the days of your life. Love,