The course had its ups and downs. I was highly motivated by Goenka’s promise of getting rid of all my past karma.
I used this gum stuff as my pens and papers were confiscated when I started and also because I would be able to wipe it off the wall with a bit of soapy water.
I learnt today, during a pre dinner chat, that we had reached 48 degrees during these last 10 days, with an average of 45. ....
"we had reached 48 degrees during these last ten days'-48 celsius is equal to 118.40 fahrenheit
'..average of 45 C" 113.00 fahrenheit
The author of the following did a ten day Goenka paced retreat in Rajasthan, the desert region of India.
Corboy comment. If Goenka actually said that, Ive not heard this in any of the Zen or Insight Meditation retreats or lectures I ever attended here in the states.
We need to hear more about whether having writing and paper confiscated is normative for Goenka courses in India. I never had my paper or pens taken away during any retreat.
Now here is one pesons description of a vipassana course in Rajasthan, India. Quotes above were taken from this description.
Note that the author mentions hot tempretures. A person can easily dehydrate unless he or she already knows how to monitor his or her hydration status and drinks plenty of water with balanced electrolyte.
And...that water has to be clean. Nothing in it to make a person sick.
The meditation hours were no walk in the park; soaring temperatures; an old and tired couple of fans on the ceiling and power cuts in the middle of the day, made the whole experience even more daunting than it should have been. How can you concentrate in breathing in and breathing out of your nostrils if your whole body is dripping sweat? How can you “observe” the subtle sensations of the body if my arms and legs are itchy of the mite, ant and bug bites and a nasty rash produced by the dry, dusty and baking air of the desert in Rajasthan? I learnt today, during a pre dinner chat, that we had reached 48 degrees during these last 10 days, with an average of 45. ....
Every single day I thought about leaving but I would tell myself: If you leave, you will be a failure to yourself.
You have promised to stay here for the whole duration of this course. I would also think that if I leave it would be very unlikely that I will be joining another Vipassana course in any near future. In a month time I would have rather lost 10 days of my trip and my time than regretting not having finished the course. I wouldn’t like to be stuck with the thought: “what if….”
The course had its ups and downs. I was highly motivated by Goenka’s promise of getting rid of all my past karma. I would be able to use this technique to get rid of all my negativity, my bad cravings, alcoholism, selfishness, egocentrism and all the bad adjectives that I have been associating myself in the last few years. It sounded too good to be true, so I should give it a go, I thought.
considering that the centre in Mumbai run fully booked courses (They are booked four months in advance if not more) for 500 students.
Corboy note: 500 students? That is a huge number of people to monitor--if oversight is possible in such circumstances. What if someone goes manic or plunges into a depression? Or assaults another student on whom he or she has developed what has been termed a 'vipassana romance' obsession?
(Corboy when Ive been on Insight Mediation retreats, we have been told about this. A 'vipassana romance' is when, during the retreat you see another student, project all kinds of hopes and dreams, and have an entire love affair with that unknown person in your head. Obsessions that might pass away in normal life have no distractions when one is sealed up in a ten day meditation situation. At least in the Insight Meditation retreats we were on, we were:
Told about these kinds of obsessions and how to put them in perspective
Told how to prepare ourselves for re-entry into ordinary life. This is a tough transition to make when returning from a US retreat center to one's own home in the US. One is very sensitized following a vipassana retreat, even a modest 3 day one. If one were so sensitized and emerged into the sensory bombardment that characterizes India, that could be a set up for stress outbreak. This needs to be discussed in Vipassana retreats, especially those in India. )
There were five meditators altogether; a 24 year old Indian girl and her mum (I thought), a 76 year old Indian guy, the 31 year old Israeli teacher and me. A very small number considering that the centre in Mumbai run fully booked courses (They are booked four months in advance if not more) for 500 students.
The first day you start by observing your respiration; just observing your respiration the whole first day. It was ten entire hours observing air coming in and air getting out of your nostrils. It goes on day by day, observing the triangular area formed by your nose and there are bellow your nose and above your upper lip. On the fourth day you observe an extra 10 hours the area above your upper lip and below the entrance of your nostrils.
Finally, when you have observed like a maniac, your mind is sharp enough to observe further subtle sensations throughout the body. This happens on day five, when Vipassana teaching starts. By starting with the top of your head and moving slowly to the tip of your toes, you have to work “diligently” and “persistently” to observe every single part of your body. Observe the reality of the moment as it is and not as you want it to be. If you follow the instructions and work accordingly, you are “bound to be successful”.
All the rest of the days pass as slow as it sounds. I even started a chart on the wall, drawn by some piece of window fixing gum, where I was counting the blocks of meditation that I have to go through before liberation on day 11. I used this gum stuff as my pens and papers were confiscated when I started and also because I would be able to wipe it off the wall with a bit of soapy water. I felt like one of those incarcerated criminals who count the days in prison by scratching notches on the wall.
The place was ran by the manager of the meditation centre; in charge of the physical environment and the teacher; in charge of pressing play to the pre-recorded tapes, tell us how log to take a break for and to answer our doubts and questions during consultation time, something a bit useless as I think he never really understood what I was asking.
The manager is also the gardener, the teacher assistant, the plumber, the builder (they are building a perimeter wall), the security guard, the electrician, plumber and any other chore that needed doing.
He, his wife and their very cute five year old kid lived in the small room tucked in between the men and female refectory. It felt a bit too intimate when we were having a meal.
The little kid would be locked in the room behind a mosquito screen in order to not disturb the “Noble Silence” that we meditators were going through. His wife was in charge of the kitchen and to fill in water for the dispensers around the place. They are such lovely people, inspiring peace and tranquillity, simple and having a nice soothing effect on us