I am waken up by the sound of a bell. It is 4 am. I jump out of my solid bed, my body is a bit sore but I am very excited to start. I look around and follow the crowd walking to the meditation hall. It is dark. I can’t wait to start.
First meditation of the day, 2 hours till 6.30. There are 2 teachers sitting in the front of the room and about 100 people here. What an experience, I have never done that before ! I sit down, cross my leg, and try to find a confortable position for the next 2 hours but barely 10 min later, I need to change my position. I try to meditate but my mind keeps on running. I try to concentrate again. I hope they will give us some instructions later !
Finally the first meditation comes to the end, I am waken up by the bell. Time to eat breakfast ! I am very hungry. I am almost running to the dinning hall. I am wandering what is the breakfast ! I imagine iddli or dosa or bred with warm coffee. I would love to have a coffee. But Breakfast is rice with a brown and sticky sauce, tea and white sticky jelly. I feel a bit disappointed but I am not here to satisfy my stomach. I know it is part of the game. First mouthful, I don’t really like it. I hope tomorrow will be better. I remind myself that Vipassana is free from charges also not to give students the opportunity to complain about food ! We should be grateful to have food. I will be a good student and finish my plate. No waste here. Tomorrow I will take less rice and especially less sticky sauce.
8 am. Back to the meditation hall for the next meditation. The teachers start playing a recording. I am surprised. I thought they will teach us how to meditate. But instead, I hear a very strange voice singing a very weird mantra. It is not very pleasant to hear. However I am fascinated by the voice. I have never heard something like this before. I want to laugh as it is unexpected to hear something like that. I start to look around in order to see if other people are surprised too. But everybody seems to be concentrated and captivated by the mantra. After a while the weird voice stops and starts to give us instructions about how to meditate for the next 2 hours. We are asked to focus on our natural breath and especially the sensation we feel around the area of the nose, the triangle made of the upper lips and the nostrils. Whenever our mind start to wander and fly away, we have to come back to our natural breath and the sensations on the upper lips. Seems to be easy but while doing it, my mind keeps on running. I am not able to focus on my breath more than 2 minutes in a raw. I feel a bit frustrated as I am used to meditate. I thought I was good at it but here I realize I cannot focus my attention to my breath easily. I reassure myself : it is just the first meditation, every thing is new, I will adapt soon. 2 hours later, I am disappointed. I got a little bored during those 2 hours and I wasn’t able to focus on my breath. Maybe it is the heat or maybe I am tired. It is 10 am, we have 5 min break to get ready for the next meditation.
I go back to my room and lay down. I am about to fall asleep when the bell rings again. It is time to come back. I will give my best this time. 1.30 hour of meditation. Again we hear another recording. This time, it is shorter. The voice gives us some instructions followed by the weird mantra. I try to concentrated but I don’t know what is going on. My mind keeps on running again and I feel frustrated again. I remember the voice « Whenever you mind start to wander, pull it back to the sensation of your breath ». Easier said than done ! I know I will get better soon. Time is slow and it is very warm. I am a bit bored. The meditation ends with the mantra. It feels less weird now.
Lunch time !! 2 hours break. I can’t wait to eat again, I am starving and it is an activity ! But same story than breakfast, it is rice with white sticky sauce. It is not really tasty but it is food and I am very hungry. I take a full plate. During lunch, I look around me to observe the other women. A large majority of them are Indian. I try to guess the other nationalities. I am staring at them, happy to occupy my mind with other thoughts. One of them smile at me. Oooops I am not supposed to create any eye contact. I stand up, go wash my dishes and go straight to the dormitory where I fall asleep. The ring bells again. It is 1pm. I wake up suddenly. I am sweating but not time for shower. Plus there is a water penury. No more than a shower per day, I will take one tonight. But still, I take time drink almost a liter of water, I need to survive ! I run towards the meditation hall and I am a bit in late. Let’s go for 2 hours of meditation. The voice sings again the mantra, I am used to it now. Then it gives some instruction. I will do my best to keep my attention on the sensation of my breath on my upper lips. But after a while, my mind gets crazy. I am not able to feel any sensation on my upper lips, mainly because I am not use to breathe with my nose. Damage of many years of smoking. The only thing that I can really feel is my sweat that drips on my face. I feel dirty. I have troubles to focus. Never mind, it will come. I decide to take this meditation time to force myself to breathe through my nose more naturally. It is an effort and the heat doesn’t help. I know that I am not supposed to force my breath but let it come and go naturally. As I am not able to breathe naturally through my nose, I prefer to force it at the beginning and I am convinced it will get better later. I also know that stopping smoking will help me recover my nose breathing soon. The bell rings. Time passed quickly this time. I promisse myself to meditate more seriously for the next meditation. 5 min break. I go out and look around. It feels good to be outside.
Back to the meditation hall, it feels heavy. The heat, the tiredness of the students. I can feel it in the air. The voice starts again. I make a huge effort to focus on the instructions. I am curious about the person who owns this voice. He sounds like an stoned ovni, the way he talks is very slow. He keeps on repeating the same words 3 times “Work diligently, diligently, diligently, very patiently, patiently, patiently”. Is he trying to hypnotize me ? He is very different from all the teachers I had before. Ooooops, I am thinking again, stop thinking, come back to your breath. Why can’t I just breathe and feel the sensations of my breath ! Is everybody the same ? I start to look around. People seem to be so concentrated. I am the only one looking around. Again I am thinking ! Focus on your breath. This position is painful, I should find a good position. Why can’t I stop moving ? Am I talking to myself? Never mind, focus ! Stop thinking, feel the sensations. I am about to fall asleep. Wake up ! Focus on your breath. When will the bell ring? It is very long. Ah finally, it rings. It is 5pm. 1 hour break. I run directly to my room and fall asleep straight away.
The bell rings. It is 6pm. It is time to meditate again. I go to the meditation hall. I feel a bit hungry. I can’t wait for dinner. This meditation is going to be hard, I know it. I feel bored straight from the beginning and I let my mind wander, I am too tired to make any effort. It is a lot of meditation. And it is painful to sit too. I change my position again and again. Poor woman behind me, I am sure I am disturbing her with my moves. I still cannot find a confortable position. Time passes very slowly. 7.30 pm finally. Is it time for dinner ?
I look for the scheduled to find out when is dinner time… but I realize there is no dinner time. There was a tea time at 5pm but I missed it as I slept instead. I should have listen to the introductory meeting, I knew I will miss important some info. Arf, I deserve no dinner for this ! I will drink more water. Let’s go to class.
7.30pm. I am happy, this time it is not a meditation. We sit down to watch a teaching on a big screen. I am relieved to have an entertainment. A nice indian guy called Goenka appears on the screen and start talking. I recognize his voice, this is the voice I have been hearing the whole day. Finally I can put a face on this strange voice. The teaching is fascinating, I drink Goenka speech. I am very touched by what he says and he reassures me a lot. It is normal to face difficulties the first day. I don’t want to miss a word but still I can’t stop falling asleep and waking up suddenly. My neck is hurting. Goenka closes the teaching with his mantra. What a men ! I like him, I can feel his good heart. I didn’t get everything he said but he gave me enough motivation for tomorrow !
5 min break. It is dark outside. I feel exhausted. 30 more minutes of meditation and first day will be over.
I barely meditate because I am really tired. When the bells ring, I feel a huge relief. First day is over ! It is 9.30 pm. I am proud of myself, but I fell a bit anxious. Am I going to be able to resist 9 more days? One day felt like a year. It is going to be very very long. I go to my room and appreciate the shower, even if it is hot water. I don’t care, I feel fresh and I smell good. This time, I am happy to lie down in my bed even if it feels like sleeping on the floor but I am so exhausted that fall asleep very quickly.