Vipassana – The Sensations
Vipassana – The Sensations
Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Experience here
Mind is the most mischievous of them all. When one is trying to concentrate on a particular thing, it will get distracted and run away to every nook and corner of the world rather than focusing on the task at hand. I wasn’t able to focus on breathing for more than ten seconds in a go. I decided to discuss it with the instructor.
He told, “Its completely normal. People don’t get sensations at all; at least you are getting them for ten seconds. More importantly this technique isn’t about anticipating, just be aware about the present…what you can feel. Everything will come at it’s own pace.”
The focus on third day shifted to sensations on the moustache area – the rectangular area just above the upper lip and below the nostrils.
Sensation was defined as anything you felt like, an itch, perspiration, coolness, dryness, touch of air from breathing, heat and any physical impression you can feel. You were not supposed to create any liking or disliking for any of them. One had to become mindful and aware of them and let it pass.
By third day I realized that there wasn’t any particular need to over stuff oneself with food as the breakfasts and lunches were decent veg food, which was sufficiently nutritious to survive. On the previous two days because of over-eating I was feeling too sleepy and was barely managing through the meditation sessions.
I would slightly open an eye, watch everyone…many of them with an annoyed expression while some of them into deep meditation, keep checking the wall clock and wait for the sessions to get over.
Who would have thought that meditation can also cause sore legs, numb hips, strained back and pain at unmentionable places.
We learnt about the technique of Vipassana. Earlier we were only focusing on breathing and sensations in the upper lip area but in Vipassana one is supposed to traverse the whole body. You are supposed to be mindful of the sensations on your head, face, ear, neck, shoulders, chest, back and so on.
Focus on one part of the body and try to feel the sensation there. Trying concentrating till the time you actually observe something but the trick is not to anticipate. If it happens then great otherwise witness it for a minute and then move on to next part of the body till each and every body part is covered. Come back to the part which was left and you didn’t feel any sensation.
Pain and numbness are also sensations and that was all I could observe. No matter how much Mr. Goenka voice told not to develop any aversions for any sensation; the human instinct would still take over. You would slightly move your cushion, sometimes remove the pillow, change the legs while sitting cross-legged, do everything but the pain would find its way and so would the aversion.
With each passing day more and more cushions were becoming blue and vacant. It was good enough to increase your self-doubt and derail your motivation.
On this day you would scan from the top of your head – the tip of your scalp and traverse through whole body, part by part but in a systematic order till you reach the tip of toe. Try to concentrate and become aware about sensations in this order, wait at the part of body where you aren’t feeling anything and then proceed. Remember not to create any aversion or craving for any sensation.
Then comes the session at 2:30 pm. The session of self-actualization as to what extent you could push yourself. I was just sitting but never knew that sitting alone can cause so much discomfort.
In this session you learn the art of ‘Adhisthana or Additthana’ – ‘Strong Self-Determination’. This means you aren’t supposed to move even slightly or shift your position or open your eyes. You need to continuously sit in a posture for long durations of 60-90 minutes.
It was really excruciating. I was sweating profusely with no sense of any part of my body at the end of it. It took me literally two minutes to unfold my legs and properly stand up.
Now I understood why most people ran away on the sixth day.
By the end of fifth day during the QA session I saw my roommate waiting for his turn to come. I feared the worse. I knew I wasn’t supposed to interact with him in any form but his mere presence was kind of encouraging for both of us to keep going till the end.
My roommate didn’t come for the early morning session. I knew something was amiss. I contacted a dhamma sevak, he told my roommate couldn’t take it anymore especially after yesterday’s Adhitthana session and he too ran away.
For a moment I was heartbroken. He made it till the sixth day and still went away. But then I read on the notice board – no aversion and no craving.
I headed for the next session.
For all those who can concentrate,
For all those who have aversions,
For all those who have cravings,
For all those who can control their mind…
It’s not a Goodbye,
but it’s a GOOD BYE.
Read the next post for day 6-10 – Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation here.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
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I had read extensively about the sensation part but till now could not make out that numbness or pain were also sensations that we could observe.
A fascinating account of the Meditation journey.
Goenka says that any impression that is there on the body whether internal or external is a sensation only.