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Concentration Camp

Allistair Santiago

Vipassana-Meditation.JPGI’ve been thinking a lot recently. There’s been a good bit of upheaval and tension in my life, and lately I’m getting the impression that I’m not handling most of it altogether gracefully. I’ll not get into the sordid details, but suffice it to say that I’ve been better.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I’ll deal with my issues in time. What I’ve been noticing, however, is that much of the root of my problem is mental. You see, I’m mildly crazy. I’ve lost most control over my mind and it runs away with me and gets irretrievably bogged down with thoughts I didn’t think. Or at least thoughts I didn’t think I thought.

Right. I can see this isn’t terribly illuminating, so once more, I’ll try to cut to the chase. A few months ago, I took my first Yin yoga class – and I loved it. Taught by one Nico Luce, the session opened with 15 minutes of quiet meditation. It was the first time I’d ever tried to meditate. I sat uncomfortably and listened to Nico talk about his meditation experience at a “concentration” camp – a ten-day intensive meditation course. He spoke of the silent mental space you can find by becoming an accomplished meditator.

At the time, I found my curiosity piqued. Now, however, my interest is actively engaged. I took the opportunity recently to unceremoniously corner Nico and interrogate him gently on the subject of the ten-day meditation camp. He directed me to both vipassana.org and dhamma.org.

To call the course “strict” or “intense” might be an understatement. It’s ten days of straight meditation, from wake-up at 4 am to lights-out at 9:30 pm. Vegetarian meals are provided along with Spartan accommodations. During the course, Noble Silence is to be observed at all times. That means NO TALKING. Period. Except to the instructors, and even then only when absolutely necessary. Hand signals and body gestures are also prohibited. There is also no music – playing or listening – or touching others, no reading, no writing, no drawing. No cell phones, no electronic devices, no games, nothing. Just you – your clothes and your mind. You can meditate both alone and with the group, but it’s all meditation, all the time.

I’m thinking of attending.

Having watched several videos by current master S.N. Goenka, I’ve decided that this Vipassana course is potentially massively beneficial – life-changing, in fact. I’m definitely intimidated by the code of conduct, and the prospect of being alone with my mind for 240 hours. But the more I think about it, the more determined I become to try it out. I’m thinking of attending one of the sessions in Merritt, BC at the end of the summer, so I guess we’ll see how it goes. Perhaps there’s peace to be found.[tags]meditation, self-discipline, S.N. Goenka, concentration camp, life-changing[/tags]

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