I woke up at 4 AM this morning – woo! I then fell back asleep. Oops. It’s getting colder and colder outside. So glad I found this weird bleached jacked in the Extra Clothes closet. At breakfast, I ate my ‘popcorn’ and as I stared outside, I thought, has anyone studied Vipassana as a detox or rehab method for addiction? I know I am already feeling the benefits, and know it could surely work miracles on others. I walk my four rounds while admiring the fiery sunrise before morning meditation. Meditation is smooth for the most part, but some drama seems to happen when I hear one of the ladies in the back walking about. After about ten minutes, I hear the teacher telling the manager to check on her, and about another ten minutes later she brings her back in. The teachers are always taking notes as we meditate, and I can hear them whispering things to the managers. This makes me nervous because I keep thinking it’s me that’s the problem. For example, I use peppermint essential oils to help my neck pain as I meditate and to keep me awake. I just assume they are going to call me out for being too strong smelling. Or perhaps, I am rocking again or being too loud. But so far, except for on Sunday (Day 4) they haven’t called me out for doing anything wrong. Then I imagine a Vipassana reality tv show lolz.

After meditation, we are asked to return back for further instruction. Goenka comes on the speaker and speaks on the comparison being a root of misery. When we compare ourselves to our fellow meditators, for example, or even ourselves in the past. I completely get this, and it’s the reason I have a slight aversion to social media. These recordings have all been recorded in 1991, by the way. I wonder what Goenka would think of society if he were alive right now, with all of us glued to our electronics.

While waiting for lunch, I notice the men across the way also waiting for the sound of the bell to enter. We are so far apart in everything we do, that I can’t help also making assumptions about them too. Apparently, the pregnant woman’s husband is also doing this, as well as some of the other women. I wonder if they try to look for each other. It would be hard to have my partner on the other side, without being able to communicate.

Lunch is good. Sweet potatoes with baked tofu (perfect with sriracha) which kind of tastes like chicken nuggets. As I am eating, I notice the writer I met on the first day, playing with something outside. I then see the desert squirrel. He/she is back! She is feeding the little bundle of joy seeds. Soon after, I follow suit and bring seeds and get close and personal with this bubble of fur. Others join in on the fun. One of them is the cute older Indian women who is here with her daughter. We are trying so hard not to crack up from the cuteness overload.

While meeting with the teacher, I asked what Goenka means about measuring our success via equanimity. She says our success is measured by how calm and balanced we remain inside and out of our practice. I ask if meditation gets any easier as time goes on, and she responds it gets different. But yes, an hour seems like no time at all after a while. I explain that I came here with certain intentions, but I am not finding the answers I need. She explained, that with further practice, I will gain more clarity. I then ask if any longitudinal studies have been conducted on Vipassana and substance dependence. She said it’s difficult because those who are dependent generally don’t want to to stay clean long enough to complete this. I then think, maybe if they did this straight after rehab, for example, before or instead of going to a sober living home it could be plausible.

Goenka told us a story yesterday of a woman who lost her two-year-old and was in complete denial of it. She went to Buddha and begged him to bring her child back to life. He asked her to bring him a bag of lentils, but only from a home where no one has died. She soon realizes that death is unavoidable, everyone experiences it, and decides to complete a Vipassana retreat and ultimately finds happiness. I walk my two rounds and take a refreshing shower. Afternoon meditation is fine, but I keep hearing the teacher whispering about someone in the back. Lydia’s cough drops are driving me NUTS.

At the tea break, the cute Indian lady looks at me and then looks at where the squirrel was and shrugs her shoulders to say that the cute animal isn’t here, sadly. I want to communicate that they will probably be back tomorrow for more. Tea time is fine, and I take two extra oxy mag supplements because I still haven’t gone to the restroom. Ugh. Meanwhile, I see one of the older woman looking at the posters in the kitchen, skipping days ahead. A few of us get in on this delinquency. We see that Sunday will start at 4:30 AM for all of us in the hall. Yippee. The course is not over until 7:30 AM, which I assume is when we will start cleaning and leave. I fantasize about what I will eat when I regain my freedom. Mmm. Eggs!

I walk a few rounds around the trail and enjoy the sunset, taking a brief seat on the rock facing the mountain, and think maybe I will miss this… then break into laughter. Evening meditation was tough, it felt like forever. I notice my visual snowoften gets in the way, it’s been more active than ever before. For those who aren’t familiar, visual snow is like constantly looking into a kaleidoscope when your eyes are shut, while everything has fuzz on it. It’s super fun.

At discourse, Goenka discusses we have five friends: confidence, effort, awareness, concentration, and wisdom. He discusses how we all probably want to tell certain people in our lives about this. Uh, yes. He then talks about blind faith. How it is not realistic to assume that because we believe in something, we will automatically enter into paradise. He speaks about how donating money for future Vipassana courses is nice, but serving at future retreats would be just as appreciated, if not more. This course I am taking was paid for by old students. These courses do not cost a dime, and everyone who organizes and works here is a volunteer. I just think it’s tough for the average person to take time off, let alone when they aren’t allowed to communicate during that time. Goenka is really sweet in his delivery, and I get sad knowing that I will only see him for three more nights and that he has already passed away. I wonder if he ever reached nirvana. The last meditation I spend thinking about this retreat. Later while on the toilet, I examine the contents of the trash and feel compassion for anyone having to do this while on their period.

Vipassana Day 8: Feliz Dia de Los Muertos aka Realizations (a 12-day Journal of my Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Experience)

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