Tuesday, August 23, 2011

30-days at Dhamma Thali, Jaipur: Part 1

Even as I begin to write this I wonder if I would ever be able to express what I went through in the 30-days of Vipassana meditation this July -August.
Although I have been practicing this form of meditation for the past 16 years, the recent courses since 2009--the long courses have been very powerful in uprooting some deep negative habit patterns in a way that I wasn't particularly conscious about. My engagement in courses --both adult and children's courses have been a lot more in these recent years than ever before.

It was my first visit to Jaipur. I followed the instructions that the course manager emailed me: take a pre-paid taxi to the center. Jaipur reminded me of Hyderabad in the 70s (except for the pink buildings). Registration being done, as I walked around the center, I was struck by the number of peacocks strutting around freely, talking in their peacock language. There were a whole school of pigeons, a number of monkeys (Langurs) and a variety of birds of different hues. This was going to be my home for the next 30 days---no connection with the outside world.

The course started and I easily slipped into the routine. It didn't take long for my hyperactive mind to calm down and focus on the respiration. Ofcourse there were some days when I would get restless, but generally, I could remain focused for the major portion of the sittings. Even though I had very few hours of sleep in the night, I felt very rested in the morning.

When Vipassana was introduced on the 11th day, I was surprised that I could actually sit during adhitana ( the one hour motion-less group sitting). Wow Radhi! you have got it all correct! I thought gleefully to myself. From time to time I reminded myself that this was "annicca" (impermanent) and things could change any moment. And change came in a big way on the 21st day (August 2nd)

I got up in the morning and found that I couldn't stand! There was pain in my left foot --a feeling one gets when nerves get twisted. I somehow walked to the Dhamma Hall which was only a 2-minute walk from my room, but found it very difficult to get to the Dining Hall for breakfast later. On my way back after breakfast I met the teacher, and explained my strange condition. She gave me a pain balm and I happily went away thinking that a hot water fomentation could be another way to reduce pain.

The pain did not decrease...in fact it got worse. I spent the morning meditating in my room and managed to limp to the dining hall for lunch. The good part of the afternoon was also spent meditating in my room. In the evening, the Dhamma volunteer gave me a stick for support and I could manage to get to the Hall for the group sitting and discourse. I sat on a chair behind everyone. After the discourse the male teacher got me a regular walking stick and I limped back to my room. The teacher asked me to stay in my room the next morning and breakfast and lunch would be served to me in my room itself.

The next 2 days my foot got worse: fomentation ( hot and cold), balms, pain-killer---did nothing to improve the condition and now the foot was swollen. I asked for turmeric powder and made a paste and applied it...the Dhamma sevika said she would try and get me "chuna" (quicklime). So finally on the 4th of August, in the afternoon the angel (dhamma sevika) got me chuna and I made a paste of turmeric and chuna, warmed the cup with the help of a candle and applied the paste on my foot.

The next day I was able to walk better..and in another day I gave up the walking stick and sat on a "chowki" (low stool) instead of a chair.....and by the time the course ended, gave up the "chowki" --on metta day (Day 29) I could sit on my cushion on the ground.

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