Feeling: THE NEED FOR MY PILLOW
So it was Day Seven. Another silent breakfast, another silent lunch. Another round-and-round-and-round-and-fucking-round the bush track – this time muttering, “Palms of the feet, soles of the hands. Palms of the feet, soles of the hands, I-am-equanimous-I-am-equanimous-I-am-equanimous” furiously as I tried to overcome those rising winds of another storm. (At one point I caught myself just repeating, “Soles of the hands, soles of the hands, soles of the hands” and realised I had been for about 11 minutes straight – but then I thought about the palms actually being like the souls of the hands, and totally adopted it as my new mantra).
Mid-morning, B called us up in little clusters to ask how our sensation-observations were going. The girl next to me replied that it was as though insects were crawling along her arms, and for the next 24 hours The ants go marching one-by-one went through my head over and over and over and OVER again. (Made a change from Eminem – Cleaning out my closet – in regards to meditation cleaning out my mind).
In the afternoon meditation, voiceover Goenka said to “observe the respiration”; I misheard and thought he’d said “desperation”. Well there’s a fuck ton of that around me at the moment, I thought, before clicking and actually monitoring what I was meant to.
“Do it smilingly, smilingly,” he said.
It was a time I didn’t like my Indian Opa overly much, I must say.
I was coming back from my 108th wee of the day when I saw one of the females lying on the deck with tears running down her face. I recognised her as the one I always passed in the bush, making mandala layouts with ferns and pretty flowers – we often shared a sneaky smile. No one was around and she was really, really upset so I stood there in an absolute conundrum; do I say something, or don’t ! She looked up and caught me in my awkward stance – I met her eyes, and before I could stop myself I asked, “Are you ok?”
She immediately looked away and didn’t look back at me. I felt awful; not only did the blunt shutdown of me hurt a bit, but the fact that I had actually communicated with her and thus partially broken her silence made me feel really, really guilty (to add to the rest burbling up).
It was about here that I took to carrying my schnauzer pillow around. What with a maelstrom of emotions swirling around me at pretty much all times (no matter how hard I concentrated on my hand souls), I just needed something to console me.
When packing before I left for Vipassana, at the last moment I had put my “Otto” pillow in my bag. A $5 jobby from Ali Express, the cushion looks exactly like Otto and I’ve always had it on my bed since I bought it. Subconsciously I must’ve known things were going to fuck me up, and I thanked my nine-day-earlier self for her thoughtfulness.
The first six days “Otto” remained in my room, where I would nestle (and here and there, cry) into him at night. But on Day Seven when the gong rung for the early-evening med, I gathered him up and took him with me. And when I got to the hall, I laid him out right in front of me so anytime I needed to, I could peek under my eyelashes and see him there. (I know I know, I was starting to go a little bit crazy).
Things must’ve looked up that night, because on my alarm clock instructions in my Sugar Rush Karen Murrell there is the statement, “7. Understand”. Unfortunately I cannot elaborate as to what I actually understood, but I do remember that night having a sense of legit, full-blown equanimity and sitting with sensations with no attachment. So I’m assuming it was to that I was referring. But I just that moment of absolute clarity, and thinking meditation really can be delicious.
I was brushing my teeth later that night when for some reason, a Chingy song came into my head as the lyrics related to how I was feeling about meditation. I mean, Vipassana wasn’t, right there with me bottle popping, living the life, but more the, every time I try to leave something keeps pulling me back, me back (K and B in this case) telling me I need you in my life. Because I had realised here that I really did need meditation; my mind was focusing more, I was noticing things I usually missed and I was definitely a bit more clear-headed.
Day Eight was when the tip of my lipstick fell off (always a hard presser ever since the day of crayons) and I had to take to dipping my pinky finger into the holder (holder? Is that what we call it?) and writing with said finger. And I found myself in a conundrum – where to wipe the pink that was left over on my finger? Usually I would do so on a towel (much to Mummy Dee Dub’s disgust) but as I had borrowed a white plush-ish number from the Centre itself I felt it wasn’t quite appropriate. So I took to wiping the excess on my lips.
What I must’ve looked like. In Indian, khaki, floral, flared pants, stripy pink socks, a red and purple scarf, a multi-colored flower headband, carrying Otto and with a mouth of brightest pink lipstick.
Eccentric or what?
It was on Day Eight I noticed that I was the most flexible I’d ever been in my life. And I hadn’t been going any yoga as such; a couple of sneaky hamstring stretch outs with a strap, a puppy on the wall a couple of times a day and a half pigeon here and there was the extent of it. But I would wake up and be able to forward bend fully with my head through my knees, and do a full King Pigeon with no discomfort whatsoever.
Quite astounding, really.
And I suddenly decided I didn’t need to do my bush track rounds.
I’m a bit of an exerciser; even when on a stopover, I do laps of the airport I’m in to get my cardio completed. I haven’t had more than two days of exercise off in about seven years. But in the break on Day Eight I had a really insightful moment where I just thought, Nah. Not today. And not again the following two either.
On Day Nine I thought I’d be excited at being on the second-to-last. But the fissions of angst and unease were aerating underneath. I had this deep-seated fear that something had happened to The Pedaller and I was just hanging out to hear his voice and know all was ok.
I focused intensely hard during the first non-sitting hour, so much so that when the chanting started to signal that the hour was up, I was thinking, No Goenka, I’m in my chin – because I was so well and truly, only in my chin. While everyone else got up and went for wees and hydration I stayed put, and did another full two hours straight with no movement at all.
That night in the discourse, Goenka said something really interesting about addicts. “An alcoholic isn’t addicted to alcohol,” he said. Aye???? I thought. “And a drug addict isn’t addicted to drugs. Rather, they are addicted to the sensations that these things bring them. Life is all about sensations, it’s where misery and pain begins and ends.”
That really, truly blew my mind. And I had an astutely aware moment.
I’m an addict for attention.
On filling in my application form and my registration form on the first day, the question had come up as to whether I had had any mental ailments in the past or present. I had flirted with the idea of leaving it blank in case they told me to leave, but then thought honesty was the way to go and just – very, very succinctly – said about Ed. (Eating Disorder for anyone new).
On the first proper day when we each had a two-minute introduction with B, she thanked me for my honesty and said I had to be very conscious that he would very, very likely be a big part of my experience and come up quite a bit.
But he didn’t.
I think because I was caught up in surface-level suppressed stuff the whole time, I didn’t get deep enough to dredge up any deep Ed. Being so ingrained – a lot more under control now, yes, but still very much there – I didn’t get down to the real roots of it.
But on that day, at that moment, that addict for attention idea came in and it all made so, so, so much sense. But I wasn’t ready to go further into it, so I left it waft off, and I moved back into my chin (the hardest body part to sense sensations on, I tell yah).
The last insightful thing for Day Nine?
I had a shower after the 9pm med finish (mixing things up and keeping away from routine, you see) and I caught myself being incredibly careful not to wet the bathmat.
Dee Dub would be proud, I thought – smilingly, would you believe – then I went to bed ready for Day Ten and being able to talk again.
“Real wisdom is recognising and accepting that every experience is impermanent. With this insight you will not be overwhelmed by ups and downs. And when you are able to maintain an inner balance, you can choose to act in ways that will create happiness for you and for others. Living each moment happily with an equanimous mind, you will surely progress toward the ultimate goal of liberation from all suffering.”
- S.N Goenka