My experience with Vipassana or “silent meditation” began 16 years ago in a coconut grove in Thailand. I was longing for silence, a place of refuge where I could experience deep peace, and well, maybe even become enlightened.
I realized very quickly that becoming Buddha was a long ways away. In my innocence, I believed all I had to do was retreat from the world, close my eyes and sit. Following my breath from the tip of my nose to my upper lip, over and over again, I would find salvation.
What I discovered however, was that every little thing pulled my awareness from my breath. Whether it was the pain in my knee, the mosquito buzzing around my head, or the negative thoughts and memories. The Present Moment was lost in a sea of constant and never ending distractions.
For several years I returned to that tranquil coconut grove in the south of Thailand. I loved sitting by the pond, gazing upon the lotuses that grew up from the muddy waters to the top of the crystal clear surface. I loved the Buddhist teachings and the serenity that seemed to emanate from the monks.
Laying on the cement bed, with a wooden block for a pillow I would hear the echoes of the teachings, as the geckos chanted… “Dukkha.. Dukkha” ~ translated from Pali, the language of the Buddha, to mean, “Suffering”.
During one of my vipasanna experiences, I was 5 months pregnant. I was a devoted yogini at the time, and I was very stubborn. I did not want special attention or to deviate from the rigorous schedule just because I was carrying child. Ha… that certainly would not be that case today!
I woke every morning at 3am to dump buckets of cold water over myself to wake up. Pregnant as I was, I would sit without moving, without extra pillows or a chair. I was there to purify my mind and open my heart so I could be a good mother, wife, friend and so on.
No matter where I went the distractions followed me. The sadness, the grief, the elation and joy. The past. The future. And sometimes, I melted into the Present Moment. Tears flowed. Healing happened.
The teachings revealed themselves everywhere. Day turned to night and night turned to day. Emotions rose and passed away. “All things are impermanent” the Buddha taught.
One well known quote from Buddha states. “Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.” We are all born, and yes, we all die. It is a part of living.
Once you enter into the rhythm of monastic living, it’s easy to lose track of time. We would walk to the open concept meditation hall when it was dark at 4am and back to our humble rooms late night at 10pm. Was it day or was it night, I would wonder gazing up at the nights sky full of shooting stars and distant galaxies.
Each afternoon at the end of our meditation, we would practice “Metta”. This is a meditation where you focus on “loving kindness”. In this meditation you offer loving kindness to yourself, to those you love, to those that have hurt you. You offer loving kindness to the plants and the animals and so on.
On the last day of our 10 day sit, the monk asked the 40+ participants to send loving kindness to the youngest member of the group. In that moment, I felt this surge of energy come streaming into my crown chakra. The group was offering loving kindness to the baby that was growing in my womb. Instantly the baby kicked from within and a sea of tears rolled down my cheeks.
All this suffering, all this inner torment and turmoil, all to dissolve karma and lighten the load of this sweet soul that chose me to be her mother, her guardian on this journey. I may not have become a Buddha during my meditations but one thing I know for sure ~ I gave birth to an enlightened being and vipassana was a vehicle for the transmission and transformation.
May All Beings Be Free from Suffering.
Peace & LOVE,