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Meditation Retreat: Day 0

Note*
This is part of a multi-part posting about the 10 day Meditation Retreat I participated in. The names of the people I met have been changed, but for the most part, this is all as true as my biased and faulty memory can recall. I will not be describing the actual teachings/technique, not because I'm not allowed, but because I can't do them and you justice. If you would like to learn more about, you can go to Vipassana Meditation website

Introduction
I know I said it was a 10 day meditation retreat, but in reality, it took 12 days out of my life. The first day we were all supposed to arrive at the site by 4 pm. I had volunteered to give rides to two other women in the area as the site was 4 hours away. The first person I picked up, Sunny, was a chinese buddhist. She was living with her mother, a buddhist nun, and this was her second 10 day retreat (she had just done one a few weeks before and was really looking forward to this). I was a little apprehensive but it was good to be with someone who had already done one. My second pick up, Tammy, was a 40 year old divorcee. Tammy had seen an amazing documentary on the technique when they applied it in a prison situation. She had already been practicing some meditation and really wanted to try this technique (Vipassana).

The retreat was being conducted by a branch of the Vipassana Association but was held at a non-center site. What this meant is that instead of getting individual meditation cells at a place specially constructed for this purpose, we were staying at a outdoor recreational facility normally used by special needs children. Woohoo - bunk beds!

We arrived at the camp early and had a couple of hours to 'move in' to our assigned cabins. Each cabin could hold 11 people, but mine only had 7 people in it. I unpacked my sleeping bag and went back to the check-in station/dining hall to see if I could run into Sunny and Tammy again. Sunny was there, but had already started moving into a meditative state = she wasn't talking or interacting with anyone. I found Tammy talking to the woman who had the bunk bed next to her's, a 7th level Reikei master named Lana. We spent the rest of our free time chit chatting with other people and drinking tea. I also surrendered my purse and car keys for safe storage. Finally dinner was served, a light meal of kale soup with cornbread, and salad. The first wrinkle had set in. The meal was vegetarian, and the men were segregated from the women.

After the meal, they explained the rules again.
No lying (easy in our case since we weren't allowed to communicate at all!)
No stealing
No killing (this meant the bugs)
No intoxicants (cigarettes included)
No sexual misconduct (I leave this up to the reader to draw their own conclusions)

And most importantly, we weren't allowed to leave. Once we started, that was it.

eeeeee!

and that was it, we weren't allowed to speak, write notes, nothing. If it was urgent, we could speak to the female manager about it. The camp had been divided up into Male and Female areas; no leaving the camp area and no straying into the Male area. We went to the meditation hall and were assigned seats, no changing seats allowed. I hadn't brought a watch, but it was ok. There would a bell/gong sounding off for every schedule change.

So we began. That evening we sat in the Meditation Hall and started working on our technique. Our day ended with a 9:00 - 9:30pm break to get ready for bed, which we did in silence. The next day would begin with the 4am wake up bell.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 5, 2008 5:49 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Note* Meditation Retreat.

The next post in this blog is Meditation Retreat: Day 1.

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