Vipassana Meditation at Dhamma Dipa: What I did do

So that’s what I didn’t do during my 10-day study of Vipassana Meditation at Dhamma Dipa. Here’s a list of what I did do.

  1. Lived in silence.
  2. Lived in an all-male community where the loudest sound were the birds (until the Harrier Jets passed over).
  3. Saw rabbits before dawn.
  4. Saw not just every sunset and sunrise, but every moonset and moonrise.
  5. Watched a nest of spiders entrap their prey around a light. With our vow of no killing, there was no sweeping away of cobwebs.
  6. Lots of walking, slow and fast. I used the field as a clock sometimes, 6 minutes to make a circuit.
  7. Lots of sleeping (when I shouldn’t have been).
  8. Lots of sitting crosslegged, something I hadn’t done since primary school.
  9. Lots of pain.
  10. Lots of thinking. I spent a lot of time going over my memories and felt a deep appreciation for all the people I’ve met and ridden with.
  11. Lost any reasonable idea of social graces and personal appearance. Scoffed food, nails long and grubby, beard shabby and dandruff all over the place.
  12. Watched a bee pick pollen from a blue flowered plant.
  13. Ate gorgeous vegetarian food and spectacular breakfasts.
  14. Meditated (a bit).
  15. I learnt a bit about myself, about how frustrated I get with petty annoyances, how bored I get without mental stimulation.
  16. Sat in a hall with 120 other people and listened to the sounds of coughing, sneezing, sniffing, shifting, scratching, swallowing, farting, breathing, crying.
  17. Laughed hard at the teacher’s hilarious discourses in the evenings (the only intellectual stimulation allowed).
  18. Heard an owl hooting in the night.
  19. Heard foxes screeching.
  20. Woke up and got up at 4am everyday – or before.
  21. Had crazy cool dreams.
  22. Created an aversion to the sound of a gong.
  23. Got paranoid that my co-meditators hated me. The slightest body-language snub was a cause for boiling paranoia.
  24. Listened to the most appalling chanting noises, sounding like the final death rattle of our teacher, and still kept my equanimity (almost).
  25. Spent a lot of time looking at my clock, counting down the minutes and the days.
  26. Felt a surge of joy every morning to be out in the cold and sometimes the misting rain and to be looking out over the valley and the woods, out into the silence.
It’s a list that goes on and on, believe me. I repeatedly fail to quite capture the experience of frustration and joy that went with the 10-days at Dhamma Dipa. You’ve just got to try it for yourself. But you can read my attempt to capture more of my experiences here.

Vipassana Meditation at Dhamma Dipa: What I didn’t do

I just got back from a 10-day course in Vipassana meditation at Dhamma Dipa in Herefordshire. I thought it might be interesting for people to get an idea about the sort of things that we got up to down there, but first, here’s a list of the things that I didn’t get up to.

  1. I did not see god, get converted or become enlightened.
  2. No meat-eating.
  3. No women, no children.
  4. No speaking (hardly) – in fact no communication at all, not even body language or a smile was allowed.
  5. No intoxicants.
  6. No caffeine.
  7. No reading (except for a few instructions posted on the boards).
  8. No writing.
  9. No clothes washing – or any other normal household chores.
  10. No exercise except walking.
  11. No email or internet.
  12. No telephone.
  13. No music.
  14. No games or other entertainment.
  15. No travel.
  16. No spectacles (except to watch the evening discourses).
  17. No refined sugar (perhaps a little in the desserts, but not much).
  18. No proper meals after about 11.30am.
  19. Only a five or six hours sleep a night.
  20. No news or information, no radio, newpapers etc..
  21. No solitude (really, not much).
  22. No freedom – the timetable was rigid.
  23. No days off.
  24. No difficulties at all – meals provided, bed provided, nothing to worry about, nothing could go wrong.
  25. No money.
  26. Nothing in my pockets except a few tissues and a clock.
  27. No stealing.
  28. No killing.
  29. No lying (I don’t think I lied – perhaps I did, not sure).
  30. No physical contact with anyone else.
  31. No contact with advertising! That was a good one.
All this was supposed to clear the way for some concentrated work on our minds. See what I did do at Dhamma Dipa in my next post.