I’ve just got back from my second 10 day vipassana retreat.
I’m feeling rather battered by an experience I can only describe as emotional waterboarding.
The last retreat seamed to consist of resisting the process, clock watching, immense physical pain, dealing with mood swings of rage and depression, hallucinations and ecstatic floating and weightlessness. This finally resulted in the insight a few weeks after the retreat which gave me the solutions to dealing with emotional trauma and lifting of a huge burden of a lifetime of self hatred.
I had no clear reasons for attending a second retreat other than wishing to see how it would affect me. I was also curious to see the impact on myself of attending a vipassina retreat right after a zen retreat.
And so onto this time.
Upon arriving at Dhamma Dipa I was immediately struck by a weight of love and joy just hanging in the air. My scientific mind wondered whether this sense of the place was just my own body releasing happy chemicals triggered by my own memories, but instinctively I felt that the place has simply managed to absorb the positive vibrational energy of years and years of meditation. Maybe a quantum physicist will be able to explain the effect one day.
On signing in I was relieved to find yet again I had a room to myself as this meant that I had somewhere to hide if things got too much.
I made a small amount of effort to chat, whist chatting was aloud as i was about to enter 10 days of silence. Soon enough my second vipassana retreat was underway and as last time i found myself asking the question “Why was i doing this to myself?”
The first 3 days consisted of getting up at 4:00am and meditating 10 hours a day on feeling how the in and out breath affect the small hairs on the top lip. This enabled the mind to become a concentrated laser.
Being an old student i was given access to a cell. This was a small quiet meditation cubical. As my mind become more and more concentrated by senses were turned up to 200%
Light became so blinding to my eyes that i couldn’t see. The sound of metal cutlery being bashed together was painful. The meditation hall seam full of knuckle cracking, coughing, burping, yawning, and farting. I wanted to kill them.
The cell was my personal sensory deprivation chamber, a seclusion away from the human noise. As soon as i started using the meditation cell I started tripping out.
Travelling into two split dimensional planes of oil floating on water with yellow and blue light shining through. Then my life flashed before my eyes.
I suddenly realised that we never forget our memories. They are all still there waiting beneath the surface. I was hit by a unrelenting torrent. Thousands of disconnected memories one after another. Not bad memories, not good memories, but normal boring mundane stuff. I just re-experienced my whole life.
On the 4th day it was Vipassana day, the day we were to switch over from anapana meditation to vipassana meditation. The mind laser would no longer be stuck at the nose tip, but would be scanning the body for sensations and not reacting to them.
Also on this day we would be reintroduced to the wonder of strong determination sitting.
We would be doing three 1hr strong determination sits per day. And to start us of we were given a 2hr one. After the first hour my knees began to burn. The fire got hotter and hotter and spread to the whole of my lower torso. It was the most intense agony I’ve ever experienced in my life. I began to burp continuously and shake violently.
I was determined not to quit but the one of the center managers told me to stop. Apparently I’d missed the point. I was meant accept the pain not fight it off with brute force. I felt disappointed in myself that I had failed by trying too hard. I thought that everything could be won by not giving up. After the 2hrs were up I found myself unable to stand.
After this situation pain didn’t bother me again. The pain was generated by a conspiracy of body and mind in an attempt to make me move. Since both my body and mind now knew that they would’t win the pain simply went away.
After spending literally days sat on my arse scanning my body with focused concentration I formed a map of my body in my mind. I guess you could call it an energy map, or a sense map. It was how my mind experienced my body.
The top of the head was mostly blank with the odd sensation of a hair being dragged across it. The face was alive with pressure, tingling, buzzing and pin pricks. The torso and arms were warm with the touch of a cotton shirt. The legs and feet were buzzing with a heavy hot and cold energy. This mental map remained fairly consistent over the coming days. The laser of my mind switched between a focused point and sweeping horizontal beam.
Over time my mental perception of the body changed into a mass of warm pressurised buzzing. This was my energy body.
looking at the map I could see two problem areas. Two areas that did not consist of subtle vibrations. A point behind my right should blade kept on sending signals of pressure and pain. So I focused my mind there and slowly the pain/pressure began to dissolve. Once it had gone it didn’t come back. Had i just energy healed a physical injury?
The next problem was my heart. It was inaccessible, completely shut off, closed of from my mind. Not only my heart but also my intestines were surrounded on a wall of fuckoffness.
As I probed this wall with my mind, I instantly wanted to cry. It was like when someone tries to give you a hug when you are upset but you push them away because you don’t want to cry in public.
I rested my attention on the barrier around my heart with a gentle push and positive intent to get through but nothing violent or aggressive. Eventually the barrier began to dissolve and I moved on and cleaned up the rest of the black wall around my heart and intestines. Was this negative chi, an energy blockage?
How real was what I was experiencing? I wasn’t creating the visualization i was simply experiencing what I experienced. I’m not sure the word real has any value in such an experience.
I was able to clear up these two blockages and allow my whole body to become perceived by the mind as a pure subtle buzzing energy. Time will tell whether I’ve managed to heal myself either emotionally or physically.
We were instructed to keep scanning the subtle vibrations of the body but to me this seamed utterly pointless. My whole body was just a buzzing mass of energy which pulsed and breathed in and out.
I make all this sound easy, but it wasn’t. For the last few days my mind was crying. It was saying “No more, No more, please, I cant do it anymore, please leave me alone, please stop please stop”. but I kept pushing.
My mind felt bullied and picked on unrelentingly.
But this wasn’t the worse part. The worse time came at break.
When I wasn’t meditating I was still meditating. When i wasn’t meditating in strong determination sitting, when I was doing walking meditation in the woods, thats when the memories and emotions came up. an unrelenting torrent of some of the worse memories and emotions of my life.
I didn’t remember them. I re-experienced them. A montage from hell. What about this? or this? or how about this? you’ve got to love this one?
I was utterly utterly miserable and dejected. So much shit. I hadn’t realised it was all still in there. All this nasty toxic shit was still drowning me, still dragging me down.
I can honestly say that what I went through was absolutely fucking horrible. But if those memories that I re-experienced have been released and are no longer in me any more then it would have been worth it.
If all that shit is still in me somewhere then it can stay. I don’t want to see it again.
Only time will tell how much, if any healing has taken place this time, but I suspect a lot has changed in me.Google+