Entry # 10: 10-Days of silent MEDITATION & Buddhist philosophy
Dharamshala Travel Blog› entry 11 of 46 › view all entries
MEDITATION: A lot of you (friends and family) have been asking me about my 10-day silent Buddhist meditation experience. It's easier to explain in person, but let me try....
First, you should know that it was unimaginably unforgettable, amazing and priceless. In a way, I feel as though I can come home now and that I've gotten what I needed from my entire trip (and I still have 6 months ahead of me)! It was far better and more valuable than what I thought it would be.
I spent 10 days in silence at the Tushita Meditation Center in the forest above Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama). I spent most of each day in a small Gompa (Buddhist Temple) sitting on old worn-out pillows listening to a fascinating monk teach us about Buddhist philosophy, practicing meditation and doing yoga.
Our geshe (monk-teacher) was mezmerizing. He explained intricate Buddhist philosophy with simple clarity. I actually looked forward to each 2-hour teaching. Buddhist philosophy made so much sense to me that I was instantly able to relate specific teachings to my life. This was the highlight. And, it made for some very successful meditation experiences.
Meditation was interesting. We alternated between:
1) "Analytical Meditation" (focusing on specific details about a question/topic/experience/person) and
2) "Placement (or Mindful) Meditation" (focusing, or "placing" your focus solely on your breath while counting to four with each breath).
In a long meditation session, I alternated between 'Analytical' and 'Placement' multiple times in order to have a solid and prolific meditation session. We did this several times a day starting at 6am.
We had to keep silence for 10 days. There was no talking. But, actually - that was EASY! The hardest part was sitting cross-legged (Lotus position for those who were flexible) for so many hours each day. My legs fell asleep at least 2,500 times! Aaah. That was painful - but it is an important part of meditation. The pain keeps you from being too comfortable/sleeping and (when you forgot you had pain) it reminds (each time you forget about the pain) that you were "in the zone" for a few minutes.
We had no watches, iPods, Internet, cell phones, Treos etc.... They asked us to turn all that modern lifestyle gadget stuff in prior to starting the course. It was not so difficult for me. There was a gong that rang 10 minutes before each session each day to help us know where to be and when to arrive.
There were monkeys everywhere in the trees to entertain us at dawn and dusk. It was as if they were being paid to perform trapeze-like fun. They were incredibley cute and funny - traversing the tree tops, pushing one another, dangling around and approaching us to chill.
The food was simple and vegetarian (so I am healthy). In fact, I haven't eaten meat, chicken or fish for over one month. Being vegetarian in India is too simple.
So - in summation, this was my experience in an "ashram" in India. For me, it was the ultimate balance between Buddhist philosophy and meditation. The whole experience was very important for me - and a much needed place for me to be. I am so happy that I decided to do it. Ask me about it when I see you....!