Many come here to seek inner peace and some even go crazy during the process! The days are long, and by long I mean 10 hours of planned meditation long, so you can imagine the strain on both the mind and body for these days. I will refrain from discussing in detail all of what you experience (although it differs from person to person), because YOU reading this entry should experience it for yourself! Check out more at www.Vipassana.org, and there are centers in almost all countries where you can do a course! You can come back as an old student as well, and continue to do the courses over and over again as many times as you would like!
It was the most time-concentrated challenge I had ever undertaken and now can call it an accomplishment! An incredible sense of achievement came along with feelings of happiness and new viewpoints for me as takeaways. I would go as far as to say that it may be the biggest hurdle I have ever overcome in my life! I realized many benefits. Not just coming out more compassionate for other beings as the technique aims, but learning to observe emotions and sensations objectively, by assigning neither positivty nor negativity towards either of the two. Try not reacting negatively towards pain for instance, or happy towards a pleasurable sensation the next time one arises - it is CERTAINLY not easy, as our minds are trained to react in this manner. A few other takeways were to observe the actual emotion itself instead of what caused it and to view an event that caused anger for example, from the inside instead of seeing the outside person or words as the cause...perhaps your own inner physical structure, or your mind being the entity allowing it to bother you instead....interesting, huh? Think on that one for a minute..
By observing my body at the physical level, I became more aware. I became more aware not just of myself however, but of nature as I took this time that I would usually spend on the internet or chatting with friends and spent it in a sea of dragonflies on top of a golden temple overlooking the mountains, or under a swooping flock of birds which were taking off in a whisp and circling the area, their destination unknown to me and maybe to them either...or watching a national-geographic-like experience unfold right in front of my eyes as I observed a group of monkeys playing with one another, running, jumping and doing flips off of the walls of buildings, swinging from tree to tree with the children clinging to their parents from their undersides, or causing mischief by grabbing a friend's tail. The Vipassana Center in Jaipur could not have been situated in a better place, away from all the noise and smack in the middle of nature where you can observe all of these insects and mammals as they behave naturally, not as in the zoo where they are caged up and certainly acting differently. I saw numerous peacocks, tons of types of exotic-looking birds of all colors, someone pointed out a scorpion (which I did not happen to see), along with tons of monkeys, small squirrels and lots more!
Another benefit I received from being more aware of my body was becoming more aware of my eating habits. Until this point, I had always consumed what I considered to be a lot of food, still eating at the point of being stuffed (often). I learned that I could feel satisfied by taking in a significantly smaller portion of food and waiting for my blood sugar to rise. It sounds so simple, yet such a hard task to actually achieve. Hey, when you have free time during the day with none of your normal apparatuses, gizmos or gadgets to distract you, you would be surprised at what you discover about yourself and the world around you!! By no means can I say that I can adhere to this new eating pattern every time that I sit down with a plate of food, but the important aspect to entertain here is that I have become aware of this and will aim to be a more conscious and less "glutonous" eater. I know I will reap benefits both in the short and long term from this positive change in my life!
From Jaipur Chris and I will leave today for Udaipur, and then off to Mumbai after a few days, to be followed by the infamous beaches in Goa...stay posted for more soon!