Before I started practicing meditation, I would never have thought that I could sit for two hours per day “doing nothing.” I was hyperactive, working from dawn to dusk like mad, connected to the Internet at all time. When could I find two hours of my precious time to stop all activity? Impossible.
But one day, almost burnt out, I decided to do something for myself and I applied to sit in a 10-day Vipassana course. Not an easy decision. But probably the best one I have ever taken.
I had to accept the very strict code of conduct, which includes noble silence, abstain from killing and lying, segregation of men and women, no physical contact, no reading, no writing, no electronic devices and not eating after noon. Only meditation, ten hours per day, for ten days.
It was really hard, but after going through this experience, one realizes how important it is to strictly respect it. Without this, the meditator could never penetrate his unconscious mind the way he penetrates it during the retreat.
The work of a Vipassana meditator is to observe. First his respiration - anapana, then his body sensations - vipassana. With a lot of practice and concentration the meditator discovers that his physical sensations are deeply tied to his emotions and reactions. By observing them, he realizes the impermanence of all things - anicca.
It’s such a simple truth. It’s the dhamma. It’s the law of nature.
So simple, but so difficult for us to see, to feel and to actually apply in our daily lives. This is why every good meditator takes “strong determinations” - adhittana - and works very diligently.
Since my first retreat, I took the strong determination to meditate 2 hours per day, to attend regular group sittings and to do a 10-day retreat once a year. So far, I have been sticking to it. I realized this does not take take away time from my work or social life. On the contrary. The work I used to do in four hours is now done in three, my sleep got much better and my concentration and ability to make decisions has tremendously improved. My life is now more harmonious and balanced. I became so patient and tolerant and I learned how to appreciate the smallest things.
In the “Art of leaving”, Goenkaji says: “The more one practices this technique, the more quickly negativities will dissolve. Gradually the mind becomes free of defilements, becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love - selfless love for all others, full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others, full of joy at their success and happiness, full of equanimity in the face of any situation.” It might sound cheesy, but it is so true. If you too meditate, you will understand.
Every Vipassana sitting closes with Metta-Bavhana. A few minutes, shared with all beings, the peace and harmony we have developed during our meditation practice. So this is my Metta to you: may you too enjoy real peace and harmony. May you too find your dhamma. May you too be happy.