"Anicca, Anicca, Anicca ... Understand the law of impermanence ..." Soothing sound of the teacher Goenkaji's voice, coming from the loudspeakers did no help to alleviate the agonising pain in my legs.
Here I am, sitting along with 50 other aspiring meditators in "Dhamma Janani" centre for Vipassana meditation at Lumbini, Nepal.
It's day 5 of 10 days of rigorous vipassana training done according to the teaching of SN Goenka. Along with others, I'm here to learn the technique of meditation.
From day 3 onwards, we are asked to sit with out opening eyes, moving legs or adjusting the sitting postures for 3 of 10 hours of meditation everyday. It must have been only 15 minutes into this 8 Am to 9 am session and I've lost my will to sit still already.
I cheekily open my eyes to check time. I wasn't supposed to open my eyes! Yup it's only 8:15 Am. 45 mins more to go.
I cheekily adjust my bum and legs in the hope to reduce this pain in my hips and knees. I wasn't supposed to move !
I look at fellow mediators. It seems everyone is sitting like a rock and getting close to attaining Nirvana. That didn't help. This is no fun!
After all the task we were given is easy. Observe sensations felt all over the body. "Part by part, piece by piece" as the teacher would say. From day 1 to 3, it was "observe breathing". Day 4 onwards we were all promoted to "observe sensations".
Observe, I did. Get distracted, I did. Now that 30 mins in to the hour, I felt guilty of wasting time. Back to breathing, back to sensations.
Mind wanders. It uses all the tricks in its bag to get distracted, eventually reaching boredom. That's when my favourite pastime helps! I start day dreaming. "Imagine sitting on top of a mountain, under the roof of shining stars and song of critters, taking long exposure shots of Milky Way. I wonder what's the ideal shutter speed, perhaps a lower aperture would help ..."
Back to breathing ! After all the reason I am here, doing this ridiculous thing for 10 days is to learn how to perceive the "reality". That's the promise of Vipassana, to understand reality as it is.
It involves not talking, no music, no reading, writing , excersizing, no external stimulus to brain. Just sit and observe. How hard can it be?
"Hey look a weird sensation on my cheeks!" Off I go playing this new "observe sensations" game. " do not crave for pleasant sensations, do not build aversions for unpleasant sensations". I start recalling the instructions. "Be equanimous, after all, every sensation is temporary".
Temporary they are, except this pain in my legs.
"One last time" I tell myself before checking time for one more time. Only 10 more minutes to go! What a joy.
"Anicca..." the chanting starts on the speakers to indicate the end of the session. After all, nothing is permanent.