Scene – In the car on the way to Dhamma Pattana, Vipassana Centre at Mumbai

So the day is finally here. I’m leaving for a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat today (29th November’23) and I’ll be back home on 10th December’23. A whole 12 days away from home, people I love, my comfort zone (or is it?), work (not a good place to be, for me) and my friends, ,colleagues et al. I am feeling nervous and anxious! This last last weekend I’ve felt pangs of anxiety, constant nausea, lost my appetite, sleep’s been erratic (isn’t it always for me?) But today as I am all set to leave I’m feeling calm, and looking forward to getting there and turning my phone in after I say my goodbyes.

What I knew about Vipassana before I personally experienced it?

From what I’ve read, observed about people who have been to vipassana, heard other people speak about people they’ve known who’ve done the camp is this – its painful. It’s torturous. It takes extreme will power, you cry a lot, you border on a mental breakdown enough to run away by jumping over the wall of the centre (yes this one I’ve heard in my childhood). It makes you calmer. You give up worldly sensory pursuits such as drinking, non-vegetarian. It makes you introverted and distant from people and the environment around you.

It wasn’t until one person in my immediate circle (thank you Nehaa) went on the course at an extremely low point of time in her life that I knew the experience first hand. I saw her transformation, saw her adopt and continue the practice of mindfulness, meditation and gratitude. Saw her traverse a difficult journey and arrive at a blissful state of mind and living a life full of self-love, determination & feeling like she had found her purpose (just to be happy)

Why did I sign up for vipassana?

The above account of my close friend wasn’t actually the moment that generated the interest in me to pursue Vipassana.

It wasn’t until this year when I stayed for a few days at said friends house that I saw for myself how she and her partner live life, are content, pursue worldly passions, have not abstained from the “good stuff” and above all are happy and feel purposeful, that I realized that maybe this was not as notorious as the reputation it’s received.

I still didn’t believe I’d be signing up for Vipassana myself at this point.

Around the last year (2023) I’ve started meditation – 5 to 15 minutes of guided meditation (over YouTube or Spotify) accompanied with affirmations and deep breathing (I discovered that I was, before this, just not breathing enough or in the right manner) Add to this the guidance i received from my spiritual guide who taught me about chakras, my blockages, the right way to breathe and the need for inner work.

I also delved deep into counseling (therapy) this year which again showed me that I needed inner work, to heal deep seated wounds, that I need to recognize the patterns for what they have been consistently trying to show me and see the truth. I did psychometric assessments as part of work requirements and they glaringly, screamingly told me that this wasn’t where I was meant to be and meant to do. But do what? Be where? What’s the truth? It felt like my foot was at the door of truth but there was still a thin veil obstructing me from seeing it. I needed to go deeper.

Altogether, I felt the calling for a transformative experience which would expose me to all the answers I was on the verge of receiving, that I needed to see & hear & feel. That one catalyst in the formula which would Kickstart the process.

That felt like Vipassana for me! So I applied.

The Golden Pagoda at Gorai, Mumbai

BUT, I applied thinking it takes some time before your number comes up. People wait for months, even years, before they get an admit. And so I sat and looked up the list and said to myself let me apply once and then when I don’t get the call, I’ll know in that moment if I want to try and apply again. (Yep, one of those people always looking for signs from the universe!)

Well guess what.. I got selected in the first instance! Just my beautiful, brilliant luck! Thank you, universe! I really needed this to be the culmination of a year full of working on myself.

Scene – And so here I am sitting in the shade of the Dhamma Pattana center. As I smelt the fresh air and freshly cut grass, I wonder quite excitedly of what’s to come. I’m minutes away from submitting my phone and want to capture what I’m feeling right now.

This almost defunct blog has become my one place to write before I go. And I hope to top this up once I’m back.

Signing out right now. See you soon with lots of things to say.

(added much much later – in March’2024 – I am finally finding the courage to write this piece. Am publishing this as is & will add new ones on my experience post-Vipassana)