Have you ever experienced days when you want quietness and peace but friends and family insist you are not left alone? Most of us find it so difficult to be alone. It is against our society’s nature. But secretly we need space to grieve or just meditate quietly in this noisy busy world. I found such a place. It was called Dhamma Setu, Chennai.
Early this year, I packed my bags with bare necessities and left for Dhamma Setu. It is Vipassana meditation Centre, a free residential camp located throughout the world open to all with no bias on any religious grounds. I spent eleven days in a strange place with unknown people some including Americans, German and even an Israelis. On the first day after submitting our valuables and mobile phones, we were initiated with Noble Silence. So for the next ten days, we were not allowed to communicate even through actions. We weren’t allowed to carry book or pen, read or write. Men and women had separate quarters and couldn’t interact with each other. Outside food wasn’t allowed.
We had to eat whatever they provide us. Our daily schedule was as below:
It was like a prison in the beginning with a punishment to wake up this early. And with no dinner my tummy growled. I just kept looking around people ate whatever was offered. I missed my Mother. On the second day, I wanted to leave this place. Goenkaji, the founder’s video was played. He just said observe on breathing. Utter no word. Don’t do Pranayama. There was an old teacher seated for any queries whom we could speak to. By the end 4th day, something changed. I began to like this place.
I didn’t mind the spider’s cobwebs or the lizard on the wall. Goenkaji’s recordings said observe sensations. This was Vipassana. Just observe without any craving or aversion because nothing is permanent. Not letting mind wander but to be in present. Observe bad sensation like itching or pleasant cool sensation with detachment without any reaction. My whole body felt heavy there were parts of my body where I couldn’t feel anything. But Goenkaji had a solution even for that. He said if there aren’t any sensation accept and move on. Do not create an illusion. By end of 7 th day we were sent to Pagoda to meditate. I found it too spooky. Not sure about the measurements but I couldn’t stretch in that room much. There were so many up downs in my journey. On the 9th day, we learnt Metta bhavna, to love all beings. I felt good vibrations emitting from my body. It felt so good. On the last day, when I broke my silence, our faces were glowing, we discussed everything from food to laundry to Goenkaji. On the 11 th day when I left Dhamma Setu I wanted to come back for more.
You can try it out too.
To register or for info visit https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schpaphulla
May all beings be happy!