For many it is. I’ve heard countless stories of wondrous effects—life-changing experiences. Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is a ten-day course for which there are no charges—not even to cover the cost of food and accommodations. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit.
That said, here’s my experience:
Day Zero: “Thank God I got a single room! I can do this. Hell, I meditated every day twice a day for two years! There are some nice women here, like that beautiful Indian woman I was talking to, and the lady from Long Island who’d done this several times—yikes! Okay, here we go!
Day 1: Wait, I knew about the no talking thing, but no food after noon everyday? There’s definitively a few weirdo’s here. What the *#* have I gotten myself into? I want to go home NOW! OMG, can you walk any slower? Seriously, do you think you’re the Virgin Mary or something? Peter, please call with some emergency. Are you hearing me Peter? I’m telepathically screaming at you! I knew I should have made a contingency plan. Man, I wish I had my phone! I could have easily smuggled it in. Instead it’s in lockup like the rest of us! Be aware; be very aware. Observe, observe! I observe that I want to go home.”
Day 2: “Great, gelatinous oatmeal and stewed figs for breakfast again. Ok, I joined a zombie convention. Ah, I see Hoodie Weirdo #1 is wearing the same skirt again—man, she gives me the creeps. Why don’t you eat that orange a little slower! Yikes, no meat or intoxicants ever? What’s a girl to do? Observe, observe! I observe that I am not cut out for this!”
Day 3: “Great, gelatinous oatmeal and stewed figs for breakfast again. Pen. I need a pen! I know there must be one at the bottom of my purse—but no paper. Why did I take that damn pad out? Ah, instructions printed on double sided paper—there must be some blanks—SCORE! Three blanks! Hoodie Weirdo #1 is wearing the same skirt—FOR THE THIRD TIME! I’m losing my mind! Need more paper. I’ll scan the supply closet. SCORE! The napkins can do without that wrapper! Ok, I’ll leave after day 6, that’s a good compromise! Observe, observe! I observe that I can concentrate on the air going in and out of my no-strils for only about five seconds before drifting off into la-la land.”
Day 4: “Can you please quit clanging that damn bell! It’s 4am—don’t you know I want to sleep in? Great, gelatinous oatmeal and stewed figs for breakfast again. Oy, I can’t leave on Wednesday—I must stay the course—stay the course! Gotta get my 10 thousand steps in. I’ll just go walk with the zombies again out in the zombie yard—whoops, OBSERVE, OBSERVE. Be aware; be very aware. No judgments, just observe! No labels. Be attentive. Observe! Oh look, there’s my cute power-walking buddy! And Wise-Woman-Who-Walks-With-Stick. At least they walk with purpose! Peter, call me please?? Call me, call me, call me! You MUST need me to tell you what lettuce to buy—or something? Oh for God’s sake, blow your nose woman! And will someone please wake up the snoring lady? 6:00-9:00 every night—three straight hours! My ass can’t take it anymore. Is there a masseuse in the house? Oh right…meditate. Be aware; be very aware. Observe, observe! I observe that I still have monkey mind. I observe that I still want to go home. I observe that I still want to punch Hoodie Weirdo #1.”
Day 5: “Great, gelatinous oatmeal and stewed figs for breakfast again. Ok, I WILL leave on Wednesday morning! But if I’m going to leave in the morning, why not just leave Tuesday evening? I don’t want to drive in the dark though, and I have to leave covertly when all the zombies are in the meditation room. Hell, if I’m going to leave Tuesday, I’m still quitting, so why not just leave today? Yeah, that’s it—leave today! Ok, I’ll tell them at noon. No, but I still have to clean my room and get my luggage to my car. Plan extensive escape route. Run to car that’s parked in the lower lot on the men’s side of the building while they are all in meditation. I already sat through the 4am and the 8am meditation, so I’ll run and get my car at 9am and load it up—yeah, that’s it! Give them my donation and say thank you and goodbye. Observe, observe. I observe that I could not stay the course. I observe that when I can’t express myself freely the inner demons come out to play, and they are judgmental SOB’s. I observe that I am SO happy I broke free!”
Day 6: “Puppy kisses and eggs and spinach for breakfast! Should I ski my Volks or my Rossy’s today? No lift lines at Wachusett—Yay! That man just said good morning and looked right at me! Ah, I’ve crossed over into the land of the living again! Observe, Observe. I observe that I get much more peace of mind walking my dog under the stars or shushing down a snowy mountain on skis than I do in a dark meditation room with no human interaction! I observe that I experience Ultimate Truth by living, not by putting myself into a vacuum.”
But that’s just me! Vipassana. To do it, or not to do it? You be the judge.