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A bit about Vipassana and Noble Silence

The practice of Vipassana originated in India over 2,500 years ago based on the teachings of the Buddha, and then was lost to India for many centuries. It survived in the neighbouring country of Burma until one man, S N Goenka, trained in the technique, travelled to India in 1969 to teach the technique to his ailing mother.


The story goes, he announced at customs that he was carrying a ‘gem’, the gem of Dharma (the universal law of life), which he was returning to its homeland. A few weeks later, Goenka held the first 10-day retreat in India for his mother and father and some of their friends. Those friends invited others, and soon, Goenka was instructing hundreds and then thousands of people in the technique. Goenka’s short trip to India lasted decades.

CartoonHere is Lilydale at the Vipassana Centre, there are about 45 of us at registration, about 25 women and 20 men. We consent to live by a vow of silence for 10 days, meaning we will not speak to another person, nor touch them or glance at them or make eye contact with them.

We are to consider ourselves alone in this place, except for the 2 assistant teachers who you can speak to if necessary, the vow of silence has the effect of keeping these exchanges to a bare minimum.  There is no mixing of the sexes, the men live, eat and meditate in one area; the women in another. The gong will ring at 4am and first meditation begins at 4:30am. Last meditation ends at 9pm and its lights out at 9:30pm. In between, there are meal breaks, a nightly discourse featuring a DVD of Goenkaji, he will also instruct us on how to meditate and all in all 12 hours a day of sitting on a cushion meditating.

It has been described as doing surgery on yourself, and without anaesthetic by Goenka, himself.  

The main teachings of Vipassana is to become aware of how all human miseries are related to aversion and cravings.

Meditation pose


Nearly there…

On the 11.11am  train to Lilydale, I was on a high.

All I had wanted was to see The Weekly with Charlie Pickering tv show,  but the powers that be  did one better, and showed me the man himself.  

What do you think of that?!  Aim high, think big!? Throughout most of my life, similar things have kept happening to me, that some may consider silly, embarrassing or stupid, but not to me.  

vipassana picture 2I have followed trails of feathers until it took a friend and I to the feather on the doorstep of the best pancake place in Amsterdam.  I have followed signs, a few times I have even got lost, in London and through that I found a great place to work from, and also found a secluded lovely small park in the middle of a busy place. Ok, it turned out to be someone’s private communal back yard but I didn’t find that out for a long time and I wasn’t asked to leave. I have a feeling the residents of the lovely victorian building may have thought I lived there too, It was where I could go for my lunch and a nap, weather permitting.  

vipassana picture 2bFollowing signs led me to meet my partner who brought me to Australia. Signs which helped me grow in my work, gain insights in the way I work. Signs that have helped me with my finances too.  When i have chosen to acknowledge the signs and simply surrendered, something changes in me, small gaps arise where I am not just reacting to situations, things start to just happen that seem to fall into place, much better than I could have imagined.  As a result I have felt very supported through times that could have turned out tougher.  

So back to my Vipassana experience… Another lovely friend picks me up at the station in Lilydale and feeds me another yummy homemade vegie meal with almond meal bread. Then I get dropped off at the Vipassana centre.  As we are waiting to register, I get talking to an Indian Gujrati girl janaki, who speaks my mother tongue, we connect and I feel like I have already made a good friend.  My turn to register and the female assistant teacher assigned for the women, gives me the key to my accommodation and says I am amongst the very few who has been given an ensuite room by myself. Aaahhh…”icing on the cake’. I am meant to be here.

My way of thinking is that things that are meant for me will be made easier for me! Is that belief going to be tested here?