Monday, July 28, 2014

One day Vipassana Meditation Course Singapore

One day Vipassana meditation courses are for those who have completed atleast one 10 day course. It is to help meditators maintain their practice, as often times, due to pressures of daily living, one gives up on regular practice. The course serves as a great refresher and is very rejuvenating for a meditator.

In Singapore, which is yet to have its own center, the courses are eagerly looked forward to, and require quite a lot of planning and coordination. For the past couple of years the venue has been SWAMI Home at Sembawang, which has a big auditorium to conduct one day courses. A dedicated team of volunteers, arrange the logistics---the transportation of meditation cushions, audio equipment and planning a mid-day meal for the participants.

The course attracts people who may have done courses somewhere outside of Singapore, and are probably here due to work commitments or passing through Singapore temporarily. In the recent course on 27th July, (attended by 54 participants)there was a gentleman, who despite a bad back, attended the course for the first half. Rejuvenated, no doubt but unable to continue sitting he had to leave, but not before he thanked us for giving him the opportunity to put him back on the practice. For the rest of the participants from all walks of lives, all nationalities, all ages ( 21 upward) the day was invaluable in strengthening our practice and clarifying doubts in some cases.

The one day course is special in many ways. Apart from helping one maintain the continuity of practice, the discourse at the end of the session is truly inspirational and makes me feel truly thankful for being on this path. The following are some of the main points touched on in the discourse:

1. Just as you need food twice a day to stay physically healthy, you need to meditate twice a day to keep your mind healthy
2. Understand the purpose of the practice...not for a pleasant sensation/experience but to understand the impermanence of both pleasant and unpleasant sensation
3. Protect the dhamma within and dhamma will protect you in turn. In the ebb and flow of life when you maintain your equanimity, you protect the dhamma within and in turn it gives you peace and tranquility.
Dhammo have rakkhati  dhamma chaarin
4. Keep the practice non-sectarian and suffering is universal and the practice teaches you to come out of suffering.
5.Attha hi atthano naato, attha hi atthano gati. The practice makes you the master of the present moment. And by this you become the master of your future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Serving in a new role

It was when I completed my second long course (30 days) that I was invited to serve Dhamma as an Assistant Teacher. The invitation did come as a surprise as I had just finished narrating to my Area teachers the difficulties I had during my recent course. 'Difficulties will be there, its the way you face them'.. they said. Yet I wasn't sure if I had it in me to sit on a Dhamma seat and actually conduct the proceedings of the course.

It took me a year to finally accept the new role, a realization of the fact that it wasn't really me conducting the course, but Goenkaji, and it would be the best way to repay the gratitude I had for him by fulfilling his vision of spreading the teaching to people. This was followed by about a year of rigorous training, where I learned some aspects of theory involved in the practice. The role of Assistant Teacher involved conducting the proceedings of the course and clarify any doubts about the technique of meditation that may arise among students. I was a representative of our teacher and therefore would have to be very conversant with his teaching.

After the 3 stage training I was appointed Assistant Teacher in May 2013. I did have my doubts about actually conducting a 10-day course as it would mean additional days to take off from family and work commitments. However, the teachers seemed to have much faith in me, and I started off conducting a good number of 1-day courses.

Then came the opportunity to serve the awesome 3-day course at St. John's island. This course is restricted to those who have completed at least one 10-day course. It is really awesome as the evening discourses cover many aspects of day to day living, and how the practice can help one face up to daily challenges. It helps one to see his/her life from the 'dhamma' angle.

Finally it was June 11-22, 2014 that I got to co-conduct a 10day course, along with James, the male teacher. The experience was really lovely. There were 54 women taking the course of ages ranging from 19 years to 65 years. It was really interesting, as all I had to do was to be fully present and fully alive in a calm and peaceful sort of way.

As I sat on the Dhamma seat, I could really tune in to the wisdom of all teachers on the path who seemed to aid and guide me in my new role. The whole process of guiding students became smooth as I found myself being guided along. It was like being one with all beings, in peace and calmness. I was not there to teach or instruct or fix....just gently guide and remind people of the instructions they heard from Goenkaji.

I was ably assisted by a cheerful course manager who helped me take care of students who fell sick and at times wanted to leave the course. One student left the course on the 2nd day, and though I did try my best to convince her to stay, she left and I could accept that without disappointment. I could really experience the impermanence of whatever little upheavals we had in those 10days, and that was mainly because the mind was calm and tranquil.

Even the one major area that would potentially cause some disturbance...the kitchen--went smoothly with no conflicts or personality clashes. It was a lovely, peaceful experience. A tough fulfilling course for students as they began their voyage of self-discovery.

Many years ago, I had wanted to help people understand themselves and lead a useful productive life. Consequently I chose to pursue Psychology at the University as part of my Graduate studies and later PhD. But it is really this new role as Assistant Teacher of Vipassana meditation that is really meaningful and satisfying in every way. This is what I really wanted for myself. Very fortunate to have found this path and fortunate to be helping others walk on this path.