Have you ever done a ten-day Vipassana course? I attended a couple of these meditation courses in the 80’s with some of my yoga friends. The courses are conducted completely in silence.
I didn’t think the sitting/walking meditation would be very challenging for me because, hey, I’m a yogi!
It’s true that I didn’t suffer as much as some people did from the hour-long sitting sessions. What I wasn’t expecting was that when the room was quiet and my body was motionless, my mind went into overdrive. Or, maybe it had always been making a ruckus, but I just hadn’t been listening.
Matters of the mind are the domain of yoga and particularly the level of being (Kosha) called Manamayakosha.
When I was in the Vipassana retreat, to illustrate what happens in the fertile ground of Manamayakosha, I would keep having reactions to other meditators, as in liking or disliking someone’s actions or behaviour. The next thing I would automatically do is build up (in my head) a whole story about them.
One poor woman brought along a doona with a chintzy cover that would make crackling noises every time she moved in bed. Since the dormitory arrangement didn’t allow for room changes, I just had to “cop it sweet”. She really was one heckuva restless sleeper, I’m telling you. But because I couldn’t speak to her, my mind just got stuck on what an inconsiderate person she was. The irony was that she may have been restless, but I was the one who was making myself unhappy.
Vipassana course leaders describe how some 10-day meditators can go through a whole imaginary romance, relationship, marriage, children, and break-up within the time-frame of the retreat. Or, the reverse could happen, as in my case, aversion to one or more participants in the course.
Two yoga practices that help settle the psycho/emotional level of being are pratyahara (stilling the senses) and savasana. It makes a huge difference just to be able to relax. The mind loosens its grip as much as the muscles release skin and bones.
If you are a yoga teacher, do include in your classes enough quiet time for the students to let go. Why? Yes, of course, it feels good, and our students are hungry for it. It’s also the state where we are more likely to drop our precious little egos and feel more one with everything. Sounds like good yoga 🙂