The seeds were planted five years ago
Five years ago, I was finishing up my aromatherapy studies and give aromatherapy treatments (i.e. massages) to case clients over a course of seven sessions each.
One of the case clients was a friend. She had just returned from a trip, and I didn’t know where from.
I started the massage with the blended essential oils diluted in a base oil. However, when I got to the legs, I was like, “Hold on. What’s going on?” “Did my friend lose her sense of touch in her legs or …”
Her thighs used to ache tremendously – even the slightest pressure would be so sore. However, this time, pressure elicited no response.
I leaned in further and further with my forearm, and she still had no reaction whatsoever.
My friend was unfazed. I confused,
“What did you do? Where did you go? How come the pain is gone?”
She then told me about the Vipassana course.
During the course, through meditation, a memory came through where she realised she was holding onto old memories of a person she used to be close to. She cried and let it out, and the pain disappeared.
That made me decide that I’d like to see for myself what I got out of the course.
Day ZERO at the Vipassana Camp
One of the basic rules of the 10-day meditation camp was to not kill. And, first evening of the afternoon we checked-in, had dinner and was briefed such rules, I …
Lights out was early. To make sure we got a good at least 7 hours of sleep before the waking bell at 4am. Beds lined two widths of a rectangular dorm. We don’t speak to anyone nor make eye contact. Everyone was quietly tidying up, getting ready for bed.
Amidst the ruffling and movement, I spot in the corner of my eye – a small darkish insect. Immediately thinking, gosh, a cockroach! I better eliminate it or else we’ll either have a very eventful evening with screaming dorm mates in the middle of the night over this tiny bug.
So discretely, altruistically, second-naturedly, with no consultation, I grabbed tissue and brought the end of life to the little cockroach, dumping them all into the bin. No one noticed. Thank goodness, and goodnight.
It was probably until the next day that I realised, “Oh shit! I killed something! Does that mean I ruined my 10-day camp even before it began!? Crap!”
After lunch on the first day, I lined up to speak to the literally buddha-looking jolly teacher and shared with him and the women’s group manager in private my concerns (and confession) of having broken an important tenant of the Vipassana camp. I explained my rationale – that had I not killed the bug, I worried it would affect all of our sleep in the dorm, you see?
Luckily, I was not banned from proceeding with the camp. Simply an advice to not do so again.
“Even with mosquitos? I mean we can’t kill mosquitos?” I asked quizzically. As cockroaches, mosquitos were – pests right?
“You leave it alone.”
“What’s the problem/what happens when we kill?”
And the buddha-looking jolly facilitator explains that the act of killing causes some type of chemical reaction within our bodies and thus could negatively impact the meditation. That’s why we are advised not to do so.
Over the course the camp, hanging out under the sun in the open fields, I realised what I unfortuitously killed was actually – a benign field bug. Brownish green, and not at all the shape of a cockroach. So sorry.
Hung up by a mosquito
It got me thinking about how sometimes when we let the smallest thing hang us up, it’s like losing perspective on things. If we don’t get hung up, then we can focus on the thing we want to focus on instead.
Thinking back to what got me into complementary healing modalities was a chance encounter with Kinesiology. The idea is that every emotion/memory is stored in our body and through muscle-testing, ie the Kinesiology, we could find out where there is a weakness showing up and then restore that to balance.
One kinesiologist I saw recommended the book Feeling Buried Alive Never Die and may be of interest.
I didn’t have any drastic emotional release during my sittings. However, I did notice things shift internally for me in a more fascia-physical way.
What Vipassana course attendees need to know
My friend didn’t tell me much about the course other than that the food is vegetarian and one doesn’t eat after the sun sets, and a reminder to bring an extra shawl for the meditations.
I am very glad she didn’t tell me more and that I didn’t look up info online.
Going with an openness to soak in all that transpires, to follow the instructions closely would be my best tips.
Every person’s experience would differ depending on where they are coming from and what they put in. So why not see how it unfolds?
The course has been running for decades all over the world with a
For me, seeing how the pain disappeared from my friend’s thighs – no surgery, no nothing – was when I knew I want to check this out five years ago.
The camp is paid for by previous donors and is free for anyone male or female to attend. After finishing the course, one could donate for future attendees. For more information on Vipassana meditation: www.dhamma.org
I received a lovely message from Sae-san whom I met last October at a ten-day Vipassana meditation course in Japan. Sae-san wrote that she had just returned from another ten days, this time as a volunteer server, where she cooked meals, helped keep the place clean and running smoothly. The biggest gift from her experience as a server was how it showed her she could, incorporate the practice, three hours a day into everyday life and still manage her life.
How we kept each other going
For a few days during the course, I was sitting to the right of Sae-san while we learned Vipassana and practiced the meditation in the hall. Throughout the course, we do not talk and chat with one another, and we don’t make any contact, including eye-contact.
On this last day, I also met a lady from Vietnam. This is her second 10-day course. She attended her first course in Canada. Since learning the Vipassana meditation method, she has kept up with her practice, although shortened to a more manageable 30 minutes, twice a day, and people around her and herself too noticed a difference. As a professor, she has been able to handle frustrating situations with students in a much calmer manner.
I am thankful she shared her experience with me as I was wondering if I would make this meditation a daily practice. She showed me the benefits and how it was possible – thanks to her, I’ve been keeping up with the practice at home.
Original post published 29 April, 2019. The current version is an update.