Sunday, May 26, 2019

Back to Basics with Sabrina, vipassana teacher, a barefoot messiah

"Come, do the 30 day course at Dhamma Nagajjuna in April-May" she said with an air of finality that I found difficult to refuse. I have known Sabrina since my very first Vipassana Course in 1995, and she has been my inspiration on this path ever since.

I had registered for a 20 day course at Dhamma Thali, Jaipur in Jan-Feb 2019 and was wondering how I could do another long course so soon. Sabrina had a solution to that. Turn the Jaipur course into service (volunteering to help in the course) and attend the 30 day course.

So there I was in the extremely hot Hyderabad with temperatures soaring to 40-42 degrees Centigrade. The Dhamma hall is very intelligently built with no firm walls on the outside but rather a row of pillars covered on the outside with a mesh so as to prevent mosquitoes from entering the hall. Cross ventilation with a high ceiling ensured a good temperature in the hall even on a hottest day. Fans hanging from the ceiling were never used during the course. We meditated most of the day in the Pagoda cells and they were very hot as well--there are no fans in the cells and we meditate with the door closed.

I went to my teacher complaining about how hot it was and how much I was sweating and that it was difficult to stay still. She looked at me and smiled and said "Be happy that you are getting a steam bath for free" I don't go to steam baths I protested. She said it's good to sweat. Toxins get released from your body. Look at our lifestyles! We never allow the body to get rid of toxins the natural way and that's why we end up with so many illnesses.

When I signed up for the course I requested for a chowki (a low stool) as I wondered if I could sit cross legged on the floor due to my Chronic Venous Insufficiency. She again smiled allowed me for a day on the chowki and asked me to try sitting on the floor on the cushion cross legged, without my compression stockings. I was hesitant but she assured me that sitting cross legged would help in the circulation of blood in my legs. And finally this was the first course I meditated in the cell with the door shut.. bravely facing the fears that came up --the cells are small and dark and I never felt comfortable meditating there earlier times.

Another amazing thing she did was to walk barefoot in the mornings and evenings when it got relatively cooler. Earthing is important she said. Allow your feet to touch the earth and experience what it feels like.

There are no water coolers in the campus. Water is stored in mutkaas ( mud- earthen pots) that give us water at the right temperature to quench our thirst.

Sabrina is a one of a kind teacher--unusual and unique. Persuasive in a gentle way you know she has your welfare in mind. 

I progressed very well following most of her instructions---one major one was correcting my sitting posture--back straight and chin-up.

She urges one to follow a simple life that we have long forgotten and I even started sitting cross legged on the floor during breakfast and lunch.

The tough one was to walk barefoot--that still work in progress. :)

Amazing experience. So its back to basics  now.

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