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Meditation Retreat: Day 1

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

An Enthusiastic Beginning
The morning gong sounded off at 4am.

I had ample opportunity to see this thing. It was the size of a dessert plate, and shaped like buddha or yoda (take your pick). You hit it with a stick and it made this fantastically loud resonating ringing noise that could be heard across the entire camp. but, at 4am, just in case you were resisting, the morning bell ringer (an amazing woman) would enter your cabin and sound that sucker off once or twice. Right inside your head.

I had half an hour to get ready for the morning 2 hour meditation block. So I washed my face and brushed my teeth and hauled off for the meditation hall. That first day, I had a really hard time staying awake. I kept nodding off like anything and I was starting to feel pretty bad about the whole thing, until the woman next to me (Carol, a tall swede from New York), almost fell on me.

After the 2 hour block, we got half an hour for breakfast and then an hour to rest. Breakfast was always the same. We got oatmeal, stewed prunes, granola, yogurt, and fruit (always apples, oranges, and bananas). There was also bread (toasters were available), and a variety of spreads. To drink, there was tea, milks (soy, rice, etc), and water. plus breakfast OJ. I've never really had stewed prunes before, but I figured I would give them a try. They were ok, and certainly made the oatmeal more interesting.

Then I went back to sleep for an hour, before the next three hour meditation set.

The three hours were an introduction in "how do I sit without killing my legs". We were supposed to keep our eyes shut while meditating, but I was looking around to see what other people were doing. People were shuffling around a bit, so I figured it would be ok. I kept changing leg positions every 20 or 30 minutes. cross-legs one way, then the other, then to a half lotus, etc..

Then we hit lunch! Yay! There was salad and rice and vegetables. delicious. Then a one hour break before the 4 hour meditation block. Yet another exercise in trying to stay seated and conscious. We did get a short break every hour to stretch and go to the bathroom, but it was still pretty hard.

Then dinner time, which is not an entirely accurate description. Dinner was tea and fruit. And if you were a returning student, all you got was water with lemon. yikes! Now, I am a HUGE tea drinker. Usually about 6 cups a day of plain green tea. but today had a been a little weird, so I really loaded up my tea. I got some great lipton and even put sugar in it.

and then it was time for the evening meditation - another 3 hour block. But what made the evening block great was that in the middle of it was a discourse from the teacher. These were one of the nicest things to have because it would explain the techniques we had been working on.

And then, it was time for bed. What a day! It was the first time I think we all really started to understand what we had gotten ourselves into. I heard someone crying that night, but what could we do? not a whole lot except get some sleep for the next day.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 6, 2008 8:51 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Meditation Retreat: Day 0.

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