Poulomi Basu


Taming the beast

What if someone told you that if you went without talking and communicating with anyone other than yourself for 10 days, while being surrounded by people, and just meditate, you would reach an unexpected level of calm and peace?

Really? Bollocks. Can't do it. 10 days??? Not a word? Can't read/ write talk/ spend hours on social media/ not even touch the cell phone/ watch TV? Like NO external communication with the outside world? What am I going to do with my time? What will I do for 24 hours, for 10 days? Be by myself? You've GOT to be kidding me. I won't find peace, I will get more frustrated by the end of it, looolll. Sure I can meditate, but yeah like 30 mins a day...why do I have to do this?

All normal, human reactions, sure. I had them too. Yet I was fascinated by the concept. For a lot of things going on at that point in my life, I needed a change. To do something drastic. Maybe get away from it all. So I signed up for a 10-day course of Vipasana meditation. Details on www.dhamma.org

Cut off from the outside world, avoiding even eye contact with fellow meditators, just being by myself, and meditating 10 hours a day. Sitting still and trying to have a clear mind even when every fibre of my being just wanted to get up and walk around. Have you ever tried sitting still cross-legged for 3 hours at a stretch? After 30 mins every inch of my body hurt, I was sure my legs had lost all feeling forever, and after 45 i was wondering about the cost of wooden legs.

And I felt I had to do something. Any activity. Anything. As long as I wasn't left alone with my thoughts. Most people have active minds, but I swear, mine is exceptionally crazy. It's got a master degree in obsessing and analyzing and repeating thoughts that go nowhere. Round and round in a viscious cycle. And jumps from one to another at such speed its physically exhausting to keep pace with it. I was supposed to be at the mercy of this wild beast for 10 days, doing nothing else except eat and sleep and wash. Wasn't even allowed to exercise. Pure torture!

And the more I tried to empty it of distraction, the more it pushed back with more thoughts, leading to another BIG thought and question: Hey, I love myself. Being with myself and having my thoughts shouldn't be this crazy and hard! Oh boy....was I surprised!

But I kept at it, believing it will work at some point. I learnt or tried to imbibe the main principle of Vipasana. Equanimty. Observe, don't react. Everything that happens is just that. A thing. An event. A feeling. A sensation. Its not the end of the world...observe the sensation and let it go. Even if it's a good incident, and gives way to good sensations, don't get attached, because that will give rise to cravings...feel, observe it, let it go...a thought in fact, is also a thing...a sensation...observe and let go lovingly...

Sounds simple, huh? It took me 10 hours of meditation for 8 days, living with myself, trying to at least hold the reins of the wild beast inside me, to get to a point where I could keep a quiet mind for 5 mins, without it straying off into the wild field of thoughts.

On the 9th day, finally I found a space I had been searching for. A space of calm. Of peace. Knowing that it's ok. That my heart is well, so is my mind, and all is well. And my legs would survive as well! I actually understood the principles, some fundamental philosophies that help to ease the daily struggles of everyday life. Finally it all came together and made sense, making those 10 days some of the most worthwhile of my life.

And another funny thing happened. Events that I thought I had forgotten came to the surface. From years back. And brought back that sensation, good or bad, that I had experienced during that event. All I had to do was breathe, and let go...I relized I still couldn't let go of everything, but that was ok...I did what I could..

Eventually, what did I learn about myself?

My mind can not just be calmed, it can be trained. I need to be persistent and not give up on it

I am the master and can control my mind and not let it control me. I have the power

I can achieve anything I put my mind to

Being by myself and my thoughts is not so bad, no matter how many days. So if I am stranded on an island (there you go, wild beast thinking weird thoughts), I will survive and not go go crazy

It IS possible to observe a sensation that happens to us in our mind, heart, and body, and still keep calm, and not react

Thoughts lead to feelings, so once I can train my mind to think good thoughts or not think at all, I will feel good. And I can practice that every day, every moment

And the most important. I am me. Who I am, how I am. And I am trying my best to make myself happy. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I learn. Step by step, I am becoming more at peace with my inner self, and that is ok. That is, in fact, perfect.


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