Monday, March 29, 2010

Vipassana course experience: Registration & the first Night

I arrived Wednesday afternoon and got settled into my room, G-3.  I had a single bed without a bunk above me.  I was very grateful I did not have to try and haul my big butt up and down from the top bed!  Although, I do suspect the women at the Registration table were extremely intelligent and were able to deduce that climbing up and down a bunk bed was not going to be an easy feat for me.  I'm sure they probably considered liability risks as well.

Since I and some others arrived early, we were able to spend a couple of hours chatting and getting to know one another before the course offically started.  It was nice to talk to others and get to know your room mates.  I never really got to speak to our third room mate.  I'm not even sure what her name was.  There were two beautiful women we met who were returning students, one for the 17th time!  The other woman was an older woman whose husband also attends with her.  A woman from India was also there with her husband, but she was not happy about being there.  "My son talked me into it, but I don't want to do it!" she said with a small smile.  Her son is preparing to attend the one-year course to become an Assistant Teacher and take the 8 Precepts.  She was upset because it would mean no grandchildren or continuation of their family name on her side since he was her only son.

We met in the Dining Hall at 5 PM to meet the course manager and the resident female manager.  They went through a general explanation of the course and guidelines; basically everything you had read on the web site, re-read when they sent you your acceptance email, and read once again upon arrival when they handed you the little blue booklet to read through before the course started.  There was also a recording that was played which welcomed everyone and, once again, went through the course guidelines and your willingness to abide by all rules.  No one left the room.  More than one of us had a very serious look on our faces and appeared to already be deep in thought about the task that lie before us.

When the introduction was over and no one left the room, we were prompted for any questions we may have.  Once the few questions were answered, we were released to return to our rooms until the first discourse of the evening with Goenka on DVD.  Once we stepped outside of the room we were not to speak again (exceptions: physical or facility issues, questions for teacher or managers) or make eye contact with one another.  We silently filed out of the room, heads bowed, as we took the path back to the dormitory.

Once I got silent and began to retreat into myself, I became aware of this physical ache I felt missing Troy.  It felt as if a big piece of my soul was missing.  I was quite surprised by the intensity of it.  When it was time to come to the Dhamma Hall for the evening discourse and meditation, a bell was rung to summon us to the hall.  We were given assigned cushions to sit on and entered the room for the first time, one-by-one.  Assigning cushions was brilliant.  Time was saved when people weren't constantly jostling from one cushion to another and getting themselves comfortable.  We could also leave our personal cushions and didn't have to carry them back and forth.  This was a very nice convenience to have, especially considering how many cushions I was toting around!

We sat for the first discourse (which was wonderful, as they all were) and followed it with an hour meditation after a short break.  After the meditation I realized I would not be able to sit at my assigned cushion because of my knee and would require a chair.  I spoke to the female manager about the chair and she told me I would have to speak to the teacher the following day.

As I climbed into bed that night and everything around me got quiet, I began to softly cry.  I had removed a key chain photo I have of Troy and I and was clenching it tightly in my hand.  All I could think was, "What are you doing here?  What is the matter with you?  Why are you always searching?  Why can't you just be happy with what you have?  Don't you realize everything you need, you already have?" 

It took me a good two hours before I finally fell asleep.  Even then, I woke frequently throughout the night.  The next morning I felt tired and not too sure about what I had gotten myself into this time....

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