Everything is temporary

Meditation Hall in Singapore Vipassana Camp, St. John's Island
Meditation Hall in Singapore Vipassana Camp, St. John’s Island

I have wanted to write about this incredible new journey in my life that I started about 2 years back, but every time I start, words fail me. Please bear with me if I divert or ramble a lot.

The experience that I want to capture in words is very difficult to explain to those who haven’t had similar experiences. Like seeing an ocean for the first time. How do you explain your experience to someone who has never an ocean before. To simplify extremely, I would just say, meditation is like a work out for mind. You have a target to achieve, like 50 crunches in a gym, and you need to reach that after trying continuously. The target keeps getting tougher and tougher as you get better at the exercises. The ultimate goal is to make the mind so strong that you are always in a meditative state irrespective of any other activity that you might be involved in.

The meditation technique that I am trying to learn is Vipassana as taught by SD Goenka. Why I started on this path was simply because I needed a very strong and powerful change in my attitude. It was just like someone joining a diet program if they are desperate to lose weight. There were a few things about myself that I was quite fed up of and wanted to get rid of them. For instance, losing my cool in the time of testing, being angry when someone does me wrong, being very emotional about things. There were times when I found myself extremely sad and at the same thing wondering why the hell am I so sad. I am one of those very few individuals in the world who have best of everything: health, education, rights, money, everything which people seek I have it already, and yet I can be so unhappy at times. If I am not happy now under current circumstances, then it is highly unlikely that I ever would be! And hence, I was looking for a complete overhaul.

It is very simply achieved by the art of ‘observing’. So there are four types of minds which are always on work: memory, conscious, reaction, feeling. A very crucial type of mind which is never worked/exercised and hence becomes very weak is ‘observing’ kind. In order to strengthen this mind, you need to exercise it to work. You learn to observe your own body. You are not allowed to imagine anything, or get inputs from any sensory organs such as those of sight, noise, touch, taste, smell. You are only required to observe each and every cell of your body using your mind. With some concentration and practice, it is quite easy to achieve a state when you can feel and observe all the nerve cells or blood vessels running under your skin. The higher goal is to be able to feel each and every molecule in your body.

We all understand that everything is temporary. It is because we see everything as changing. There are flowers which live for a day or less. An earthquake changes the whole landscape within a few seconds. The path of a river keeps changing every year. These changes are either very slow in time or very big in size to ignore. The changes which happen at a very small scale and at a very fast pace are not noticed by us. Like in high frequency trading, machines trade a thousand times within a second to earn a profit of say 1 dollar. The speed of each transaction is too fast for a human to comprehend. We can only see the cumulative results at the end of a time interval: a second or a minute. The universe is also changing at a speed which can’t be monitored by our conscious mind. However, the unconscious mind which does very fast processing can be trained to comprehend and witness that fast change. And that is where meditation comes in to the picture.

Although it is easy to believe in the fact that nothing is permanent, everything is always changing. But believing in something is not enough to bring about behavioral changes. For instance, there are many people who believe in equal rights say between homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, they would still cringe with disgust when they see two homosexuals display affection/love/intimacy in public view. Whereas, they might find a man and woman kissing passionately very natural and even liberating! Similarly, at the time when you are extremely sad or happy, it is very difficult to calm down with just a belief that tomorrow might not be the same. It is very much possible that tomorrow everything in your life takes an upside down turn and hence today’s emotions/feelings would no longer matter anymore. This is easy to understand but difficult to implement.

To actually bring about a behavioral change, the mind needs to be trained. And this is exactly what meditation does.

But it is a very long and very slow journey. I feel blessed to have started on this long path though.

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