Day eight – Meltdown

[In case you missed it, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,  Part 5 and Part 6!]

As with the previous seven days, I began day eight with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. Most meditation sessions began with audio by Goenka giving us instructions on what to remember while meditating, along with some chanting in Burmese (I think). Usually this preamble lasted about 5-10 minutes, and then we would meditate. At the end of the meditation period, usually more chanting would be played. This morning, at the beginning of the 9-11 session, Goenka’s preamble was excruciatingly long. I listened patiently, but was mildly annoyed as he talked more slowly than normal and repeated himself an inordinate amount of times. This morning’s preamble was about 40 minutes long! After it was finished, I headed off to meditate in my room and the day continued.

After lunch, I decided to spend the 1.5 hour meditation period in the hall. By day eight, I now had a ritual that started from the moment I walked into the hall. I ambled over to my space, and did a few stretches of legs, arms, back. Then I settled myself in what I now think of as my ‘nest.’ And it was definitely a nest! I had a meditation pillow that I sat on, and a pillow under each knee for support. Once I was comfortably supported by pillows, I would wrap a blanket around my legs to secure my nest. Depending on the temperature in the room, I would either don or remove my sweater. I almost always wore my scarf. Some others had a more sparse nest than I did, and managed with only one pillow. There were others who built a nest out of almost a dozen pillows, and sat high above the rest of us. I found it interesting to see the rituals of others as we settled in to meditate.

The day seemed to be passing quite nicely, and before I knew it it was time for the late afternoon 2hr meditation session in the hall. I had been working diligently in the past 2 days and had been spending almost all meditation sessions in the hall. Often I would sit for an entire 1.5 or 2 hour session without moving, as well as the 1 hour group sessions. It was tiring, but I wanted to make the most of my ten days here. I was happy because it was almost tea time, and I was looking forward to a walk around the grounds.

Temperature falling
Despite the cold, my inner temperature was rising!!

I stretched,  settled into my nest, wrapped myself up and began to meditate. The audio came on. Quickly, I realized it was the same audio from this morning that had been long and repetitive. I noticed subtle differences in the audio, so wondered if it was going to be different. It was not! With growing agitation, I listened to Goenka repeat himself over and over. As the same words came again and again, I bubbled with anger – why does he have to repeat himself so much? He could probably do this in half the time! I felt my blood pressure shoot up, and my temperature rise. I was so angry! I sat patiently (angrily) in position, refusing to move. This only spurred my mood. By the end of Goenka’s preamble, I was shaking with anger, perspiration was standing out on my forehead, and I was grinding my teeth! At the moment Goenka said “you may continue to meditate here, or in your residences,” I was off like a shot.

I threw on my boots, grabbed my coat and was out the door, stomping my way back to my room. Inside my mind I was cursing and boiling with anger. Did he do that on purpose?? The thought crossed my mind. I fled to my residence and to my room. I threw myself onto my bed and buried my head in my pillow. I laid there cursing silently in my mind, on the verge of tears. I had reached my meltdown point!

The residence
Photo of the residence I stomped back to. It's night in this picture, though...

Apparently, everyone reaches a point where emotions, anger, and general badness bubble to the surface. I realize now that this repetitive speech by Goenka was simply the thing that flipped the switch – and everything inside me came rushing forward, clamoring to escape.The previous day, someone had had a meltdown in the hall. She was crying uncontrollably, and when the teachers tried to help her out of the room, I heard her cry “I can’t move my legs!” I felt so bad for that lady. Eventually, she calmed down enough to head to her room. Being silent for ten days and looking only deep into yourself can be a trying experience 😉

I laid in my bed, still hot with anger, crying. I remember realizing that it was tea time and that I should probably go, and then thought in my head I don’t want any F#*King TEA! I don’t want any F#*King fruit! I don’t want to talk to anyone! Eventually, when my emotions had settled a bit, I decided to try and eat something and have some tea. I had group meditation to attend, after all. I hustled to the dining hall, tears still running down my face. As I walked I remember still being very angry. Stupid snowflake! I thought. Stupid bootprints in the snow! I grumbled in my head. I managed to grab a quick tea and a banana before they had been cleared away. I sat alone, as everyone had already left the dining hall.

bootprints in the snow
"Stupid snowflake! Stupid boot prints!"

It was almost 6:00, and I didn’t want to be late for group meditation. I speed-walked to the meditation hall, still angry and steaming. I sat down in my nest, and settled myself for an hour. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. Not only that, but in a few minutes, I would have to listen to more audio of Goenka – whose voice I did NOT want to hear any more! I sat on my pillow patiently, waiting for the audio to start. Tears were still streaming down my face. I was trying to be as quiet as possible, so as not to disturb the other meditators.

Tears silently continued to stream down my face as Goenka began to speak, and then to chant. The audio was mercifully short. When it finished, silence fell – and my tears stopped! It was like walking into a cool room on a hot day. I began to meditate – and had one of the best meditation sessions!

At the end of the hour, there was a short break. I opted to stay in the hall. I stood at a window, a smile trying to find its way back after the deluge of tears. As I looked out, I watched an older lady walking. She stooped and picked up some snow. I watched her ball it up tightly and carry it along the path. Then she crouched, as if in attack, and hurled the snowball at a tree! The smile that was trying to find its way back JUMPED onto my lips, and I had to stifle a laugh! People are so funny! This was how Snowball got her nickname 🙂

I managed to make it through the rest of the evening – the video, and the following meditation. I was still agitated as I went to bed, but the storm had passed. Only two more days, I thought to myself as I lay in bed and drifted off to sleep.