A few months ago, when I was still living in Cambodia, I decided to attend a meditation course called Vipassana.
It’s a 10 day course and the participants are not allowed to speak or look at each other for the whole duration. There are no phones or any connection with the outside world, no smoking, no writing, no books, little food, no interactions with anybody and most importantly, silence. Complete silence for 10 days. The routine is pretty hardcore. Wake up at 4am, group meditation for a couple of hours, breakfast, meditation for 3 hours, lunch, meditation for 4 hours with a little break, a very very light dinner and again meditation for a couple of hours before going to sleep.
The meditation is guided, we had to sit in a certain position, concentrating on breathing and sensations, without moving for the whole time. Not for minutes. HOURS.
I had a monkey in my head. A crazy furious monkey. A wild one, just been captured and put in a small cage.
You can’t speak with anyone. You are left alone with your thoughts for so much time, without being able to escape from them. My bottom hurt, everything itched, it was hot and I couldn’t concentrate on my bloody breath. Oh man, it was so hard.
The fourth day I couldn’t cope with anything anymore. I hated everything. I even hated myself for not being able to make it. I left the meditation hall, ran to my room and smoked a cigarette I kept in case of emergency. I was so so so so angry at everything.
That same day 3 people left and never came back. The fourth day is the most difficult the teacher told us.
I knew it was going to be hard. All my friends who went told me it had been one of the most difficult things they ever did.
The day before going I promised myself I wouldn’t give up. I went because I wanted to improve myself and learn discipline.
I took my pack of cigarettes and all the things I hid “just in case” I needed them, and handed everything to the teacher. I apologised to him but most importantly to myself. I was going to finish this course, full stop.
The following days were even harder. On the 8th day I wanted to give up again. But I didn’t. I finished it.
And I am so thankful I did. I learned so much about myself and discipline and it felt incredibly good.
It’s hard to domesticate yourself and get used to things you are not used to do, especially if this means breaking all your habits.
I am at the fourth day of Vipassana at School of Communication Arts.
I feel useless, not able to come up with any ideas and so angry with myself for not being able to be great. The crazy monkey is back, screaming and trying to escape, finding every excuse to put me down.
But I won’t let it win. I won’t give up.