By Gordana Maric
Imagine being in a limited space for ten days with 119 people around you, but forbidden from any human interaction. In this space, there is no access to your phone, the internet, reading material, or your well maintained journal that you count on to log your daily thoughts and experiences.
I knew these were the rules of conduct once I signed up, but as the days got closer to my trip, these once intangible rules were triggering my ego in a successfully conniving way. Vipassana Meditation is a 10-day silent meditation course dedicated to the ancestral principles dated back to Buddha’s original teachings.
“Feeling every part of the body vibrating at an equanimous level with the law of nature was no longer an intellectual concept, but in fact a sensational understanding.”
We seek learning opportunities, wisdom, and experience by traveling to different places and countries and submerging ourselves into the abyss of mind-altering moments. There is such delight in the freedom of exploration and travel because it is there that we find a piece of ourselves serendipitously. But what about exploring an area we know so much about, but yet know so little – the mind. Through travel, one also seeks self-development, understanding of the world and oneself, and to say the least, finding purpose and inspiration. In this situation deprivation was the tool to gain clarity to what is real versus what is a mere replication of one’s social surroundings.
From the unearthly Southern California Joshua Tree location with its exotic cactus selection, to the enchanted West Thailand Kanchanaburi location amidst elephants and coconuts, 166 Vipassana centers are spread across the world. Seventeen locations are in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) because it is believed that is where the original meditation technique prevailed prior to the sectarian twist of Buddhism. I was fortunate enough to travel to the central California Dhamma Mahavana location near Yosemite National Park. In the midst of vibrant red manzanita trees, towering, luscious greens of forest nature, and sights of doe and fawn hurrying away from the untamed humans, the vibrational flow of a tranquil mind and Mama Nature’s offerings gave this location increased hierarchal value.
Ten days of silence, self, and vibrations.
Ten days of discipline and determination that revealed themselves in an unexpected uniform of strength.
In order to travel through one’s mind and understand it most, the key is observation. When there is nothing else left to stimulate the mind besides the natural rhythmic flow of the forest, the ego expresses a sinister dance gasping for attention. The days, hours, minutes, and seconds became opportunities to grow. Meditation sittings from 4:30am to 9:00pm — with respective breaks throughout — were no long defined as meditation sittings, but instead were chances to master the mind.
A stream of ever flowing energy, from the deepest root of the beating heart, to the tallest pine tree swaying in the caressing wind’s touch, there was more to this destination than the eye of the beholder. The vibrational, infinite connection to the earth was a new achievement incomparable to any other. Feeling every part of the body vibrating at an equanimous level with the law of nature was no longer an intellectual concept, but in fact a sensational understanding. The sensational feeling of the molecular, atomic structure of the human body phenomenon was a dream-like destination landing. Though this sounds like it naturally came upon arrival, these experiences revealed themselves on the eighth day after a week of determination and discipline.
In everyday reality, the mind is clouded up with images of the past and future while refusing to settle for the present moment. The ego paces back and forth making decisions at an exponentially unnoticeable rate. Daily responsibilities of work, school, family, goals, etc. guide away from making it on time to board the conscious train.
Don’t let daily responsibilities and habits hinder an opportunity to make it to this station. It’s not only the destination but the journey that accentuates the whole experience to an indescribable level. Take advantage of this luxurious self-developing opportunity that may be located right down the street from you, and endeavor on the voyager’s path of enlightenment.
All images taken in Yosemite National Park by LA based photographer Pete Halvorsen for I AM MARIE
February 16, 2016