Day 9 – Agitation and blurry memories

[Check out Part 7, or read from the beginning]

Day nine was quite a day. I don’t really remember much, except that I was highly agitated for two reasons. One: Day eight was exceptionally trying, and I was still emotionally drained from my inner volcano explosion. Two: Shortly after breakfast, I realized it was day NINE and I only had ONE day left!!!

Needless to say, meditation was very difficult for me, I was struggling with my concentration. I spent my free time – all of it – outside walking around. I had already begun lamenting about leaving. I wandered the familiar paths, trying to etch all the sights, sounds, and smells into my memory. I wanted to remember all of this.

eyes wide open
Eyes wide open - I couldn't sleep!

Before I knew it, the day was over and I was laying in bed, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep! The agitation I was feeling about yesterday and tomorrow were churning inside my head. I started doing anapanna and focusing on my breathing, calming my mind. It took a while, but eventually, I fell asleep 🙂

Day 10 – Noble Chatter

I woke up on day ten with a smile. Meditation did not come easy first thing, but I put all my effort into it and managed to calm my mind and focus properly. After the morning group meditation from 8-9, Noble Silence would be lifted – and then we would all be having Noble Chatter! I was excited, but also pondering the surreality of being able to talk to people again.

After the 8-9 group sitting, the teachers announced the lifting of Noble Silence, and mentioned that there would be books, information, and posters up in the dining hall. I got up silently from my very comfortable and familiar nest, grabbed my coat and boots in the lobby, and headed back to the residence. I walked alone, ahead of everyone else (my usual ritual). I was definitely having trouble fathoming that I could now talk again!

When I got back to the residence, I went to my room and lay on my bed, staring up at the ceiling. My mind was abuzz… Soon, more girls entered the residence, and the chatter began. People talking about their meditation, people talking about the food, people talking about Goenka. I laid on my bed, silently listening to the chatter with a small smile on my face.

Moonboot came in the room, looked at me lying there, and asked “Are you still meditating?” There couldn’t have been a more appropriate silence breaker! I laughed and sat up – and the Noble Chatter began. We talked about everything – from day one to the present. We laughed and gabbed.

Soon, 11:00 rolled around and we headed to the dining hall for lunch. There were posters up all around the room, pamphlets and books laid out on a table, and two desks set up where students could give donations and also claim their technology back. Again, adhering to ritual, I fetched my tea, claimed a spot at a table and served myself my lunch and staple salad. I didn’t sit anywhere in particular. Moonboot came in and sat next to me with her friend Ash. We chattered amongst ourselves and with people around us. The sounds were wonderful! Everyone was smiling and happy!

After lunch, I claimed my technology and gave my donation. I left the dining hall by myself and looked at the things in my hands. iPod, phone, camera. Most would think that my first instinct would be to turn on my technology and see what the outside world had to say – but I honestly felt indifferent about them. I put the iPod and phone, both still powered off, back in my pocket. Now the camera, on the other hand… THIS item, I was excited to have back!

I spent the next hour or so walking around the grounds taking pictures of all the outdoor beauty that I had witnessed during my stay here. I took photos of the pathways, the lookout, Cyril the Cicada Shell, the river, the gong… everything! It was so wonderful to be able to capture the visual things that had comprised my home for the last ten days.

The maple tree that the gong hung on
The maple tree that the gong hung on
Me checking out an icicle
Checking out an icicle

As I walked around, just about everyone I met on the path said hello – because they could! Smiles were on all the faces I met. I chatted with a few different people as I walked around outside – hearing their experience and stories, and telling mine. The energy that was being given and received was all highly charged with positivity and happiness. We were all buzzing with it! The afternoon was excellent. I walked around a lot and really enjoyed my chats with my fellow meditators.

Boundary marker between men's and women's areas
Boundary marker between men's and women's areas
Beautiful outdoors all around
Beautiful outdoors all around

Group meditations today were practically useless. In the 4-5 group sitting, I tried anapanna for about 20 minutes, and ended up giving up and peeking out of the slits of my eyes periodically. I sat silently, unable to concentrate – wondering how many others were sharing my difficulty. At 5, I took my tea outside and ambled around again. A few people made comments about how they always saw me walking around 🙂 The evening meditation sessions were the same – lack of concentration. I mostly did anapanna.

At 9, we all headed back to the residence. Before we left, all students were responsible for vacuuming, dusting, and tidying their rooms, so the vacuum was running between rooms and people were bustling around. After we were done our chores, the chatter began again. Some people were chatting together in their rooms, but soon we all formed a large group in the hallway. We exchanged stories, we joked, we laughed. These conversations were amazing – it was great to get to know such an amazing group of people. I met girls from 21 years old (Mini Sherpa from France) all the way to a 48 year old mom who had moved to Toronto from Mexico many years ago. There were so many stories – and so many wide smiles! We stayed up until almost 11pm, and then grumbled a little when we realized that we would have to be up in the morning at 4… slowly, we retired to bed.

Day 11 – Release

Meditation on the morning of Day 11 was blissful and fruitful. My mind was calm and focused. I was happy and smiling. I relished listening to the chanting. I think my heart was bursting with happiness, compassion, and love. The Vipassana High! At the end of the morning’s last meditation (my last for this course) I sat there in disbelief for a little while. I had made it! … now what? After a little while, people began getting up and gathering the pillows from their nests. As we filed out into the lobby, we stacked our pillows (our home for the last ten days!) on the shelves, and headed out to the dining hall for our last breakfast.

The noble chatter was still alive and well this morning. I sat with Moonboot, Mini Sherpa, and Mini Sherpa’s roommate. Soon our table had accumulated another 8 or 9 people. It was packed! We were all exchanging stories and laughing. It was the best breakfast I had during my course!

Breakfast with Moonboot, Mini Sherpa, and roommate!
Breakfast with Moonboot, Mini Sherpa, and roommate!

After breakfast, people got together with their rides, gathered their things, and said their goodbyes. Again, it was surreal!

I had volunteered to help in the kitchen – so was bringing in trays of dirty dishes and then taking the clean ones from the industrial washer and putting them away. I learned the ropes in the kitchen very quickly. It was very interesting to see what happened behind the scenes!  I spent almost two hours learning some of the ins and outs of the kitchen. I put hundreds of dishes away, and chattered with the other servers.

At around 9:30, I said goodbye to the kitchen staff, and headed to my car. I had loaded it earlier with all of my things. It seemed a little foreign to get out my keys, start up the engine, and hear the radio chirping away after all this silence. I brushed off my car as it warmed up and was soon on the road back to real life… a smile on my face, and a new experience in my heart.