Shhh! No talking!
Temisgam Travel Blog› entry 29 of 29 › view all entries
July 14th, 2008 – by: debrasiegel
Turns out the center is four hours west of Leh, in a town called Temisgam. When I got on the bus to go there, thankfully there were a bunch of other Westerners, so I knew the Vipassana course was legit. Or at least if I was on a ride to nowhere Iâ€™d have company. The four-hour bus ride was beautiful, but also bone-crushingly scary. Lisa wasnâ€™t on the bus when I got on in Leh, but about a half hour before we reached Temisgam, she got out of a jeep coming from the opposite direction and got on the bus. Thank goodness, because a short while later she asked the ticket collector if we were close to the Vipassana center. We were about to drive right past it! Youâ€™d think that the guy wouldâ€™ve known where 15 white people wanted to get off, but, wellâ€¦ not.
I was shown to my â€śroom," which was basically a mud brick hut with a tin roof and a dirt floor covered with a tarp. The mattress was a thin pad, and there were two pillows and a pile of blankets.
The daily schedule was as follows: Wake-up bell at 4:00am.
The point of Vipassana is to purify and sharpen the mind. For the first two days my mind wandered, big time. But on day 3 I nailed it for a solid hour. Oh, I almost forgot: On day 3 we were told that from now forward, there would be three one-hour meditation sessions per day wherein we were to try not to move at all. Itching, pain, etc. are not excuses to move.
There were a total of 17 students (4 women and 13 men), only one of whom was Indian. And he coughed all the time, one of those really irritating coughs that I couldnâ€™t seem to ignore. One hour I counted how many times he coughed (32) instead of meditating. I felt like I was wasting my time -- if Iâ€™m not meditating, why be here? -- but I figured I might as well go talk to the teacher about it. He made a compelling argument for staying, one part of which was that the mind will find ways to avoid doing this work. If the Indian boy werenâ€™t coughing, something else would be bothering me, like someoneâ€™s breathing, or the very noisy tin roof. This -- not being able to control circumstances around me -- will keep coming up in life, so this is an opportunity to find a way to deal with it.
Miraculously, the coughing stopped within hours of my conversation with the teacher. Iâ€™ll never know if it was just a coincidence or if someone said something to the Indian guy, but boy was I relieved. It started again on day 8, but it wasnâ€™t even close to as frequent as before.
Finally on day 10 we were allowed to talk, but only to people of the same gender. I was so grateful for the human contact. And Iâ€™d been dying to make jokes all week. At every meal I sat with the three other women, and we didnâ€™t say a word to or look at each other. I kept wanting to say, â€śCat got your tongue?â€ť
The next morning Lisa and I took the bus back to Leh, and we got a room back at the Dorje guest house. Looking back on the experience, Iâ€™m sooo glad I did it.
Re-entry into regular society wasnâ€™t as tough as I thought it would be. Part of that is I think because I went back to Leh, vs. Delhi, Bhubaneswar, or even McLeod Ganj -- all much busier, louder, places than Leh. Iâ€™m so grateful to have had the opportunity to do a Vipassana course, and for it to have been in India. Definitely something Iâ€™ll never forget.
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