The teachers talk, the videos talk, the taped lessons and guided breathing sessions speak to us students. We are silent. We are clothed modestly. There is segregation between males and females. We have a similar life to monks and nuns, where we live on the charity given to us from others in food and accommodations. There are no eye contact, gestures, or communications, unless one has a question for the teachers and program managers.
There is no money charged for the course, and the servers, cooks, and all staff volunteer their services as a way to give back to the path that has shown them a more peaceful existence. The teachers say anyone can be a Buddha, because it means enlightened. If we are more free from our miseries in everyday life, we can grow in many ways without being so attached to anything and everything. Likewise, if we cannot stand something or someone, we can learn how to not be in hatred or aversion. This takes practice, lots and lots of practice.
The first few days I learned how to sit cross legged for twelve and a half hours in a darkened hall with my eyes closed. We were taught to focus on the inhalation and exhalation in a natural way. We were to breathe through our nostrils and to observe the tiny triangle area from the edge of the nostrils to the edge of the upper lip. By day three my pains and aches all over my body dissipated. I actually looked forward to walking into the meditation hall to adjust my spot on the floor and just breathe.
Just when I thought I was getting the hang of breathing and focusing on my triangular area of nose and upper lip, the voice said on the speakers, "Now we are going to learn Vipassana." What? I thought that was what I was doing for three days! Day four we learned how to observe sensations all over the body from head to toe and back up to the top of the head. My usual sensations were itchiness. Some other sensations were pains, cold, heat, pressure, contraction, dryness, moisture, etc. We were to observe without reacting to them, to remain still. Why? Knowing the nature of all things is impermanence is science. Change is the only thing that is constant. Everything rises and passes away from an atomic level on upwards. What I found is that if I did not react to the sensations they did fade away. The insane itch went away as soon as I moved my awareness to the next area of my body.
The practice for me was a way to assist in reducing worry, anxiety, and instant reactions we all posses. Imagine how peaceful my life will be if I continue the practice when I am not at Quiet Camp. Since my return to San Francisco, I have continued my meditation morning and evening for about 20-30 minutes. Yes, there are distractions and family noises in the home. I am doing the best I can. That is all anyone can do!
I'll probably process and write more about Vipassana as I discover more about myself in the practice.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions or experiences you want to share with me about your art of living.