It was the last day and we were finally allowed to talk! Yes, allowed to talk. My friend and I had just spent 10, waiting, it was almost 11 days inside a campus, doing nothing but meditating, walking, eating, meditating, washing clothes, sleeping, walking, meditating, eating and sleeping once again!  We were at the Vipassana centre in Pune, Swargate [that was the only place I could get us slots, everywhere else there was a long wait period… have been told Igatpuri is the most beautiful place to do Vipassana at, maybe someday!]! 

It all began with a phone call from my friend asking me if I had 15 days to spare in March- April. And when I probed she said, “There is this Vipassana course, and I want to do it, but will do it only with you..I think It will help clear my head & give me some peace of mind.”. That was it!  I trusted her judgement, booked my tickets to Mumbai and booked two seats for us on the course! I came to know via friends that Igatpuri is the best of the centres, but they didn’t have openings on the dates we had in mind…

We planned the trip thinking it would be near impossible, very difficult, especially the “staying silent” for so long. 

We started packing our bags wondering if we would be allowed to sneak in a book 

We bought detergent and clothesline with thoughts of how the rooms were going to be

We hopped on the train with butterflies and their mommies in our tummies

We were excited and nervous

We were scared and anxious

We checked in and handed over all valuables – phones, cash, mp3 players and anything else we had [books, notebooks, stationery etc]

We were assigned to different rooms with strangers for roommates… 

And well, at the end of 10 days, we came out onto the common area where everyone was on their phones and chatting away… We stood on the side in silence. I was tuning out the crazy cackle around me & felt peace… 

What an experience it was!

The 11 days of Vipassana were magical- we were not allowed to utter a single word [ but for the few minutes spent with our gurus clearing any queries we had] and were surrounded by complete strangers. even though it was April and summertime, the centre felt cool thanks to the trees & the days just flew by.

What was the routine?

Our days began at 4.30 am and ended at 10 pm.

We were woken up in the morning, and the day began with a meditation session. 

The beauty of these sessions is they aren’t about chanting or reciting a prayer. It was all about focusing on your breath and the area where you felt it.

The first few days were tough, sitting on the floor was easy, but after a few minutes you feel a tingle or a sneeze, and then we came to understand that these things pass.

Between the meditation sessions, we had free time where we either slept, wandered the vast gardens, washed clothes or just sat in silence!!

We had a delicious simple satvik breakfast and a late meal around 3 pm or so. There was no dinner, heck we didn’t feel hungry.

We were exhausted by the time night came and the last hour of meditation was done!!

 FYI – The rooms were basic, with cots to sleep in, a clothesline to dry out clothes, and a simple bathroom. Two of us in a room [ I was assigned a different roommate, not my friend ]

 On the final day, we were given our phones, and money [that we had given up for safekeeping at the centre], and after a call to our homes, we were done! I took out the phone only in the evening to click a shot of the beautiful sky when we left the centre to a friend’s apartment… 

 We were content being silent and happy, to the point where we were kinda getting irked at all the yakking going on around us. It was a different thing that we dint understand much of what the others were talking about as it was in Marathi… Almost all the women were surprised to discover I was from Chennai [and that I had travelled the distance to attend the course in Pune when there is a centre in Chennai.

What did I gain from this course?

The program was a revelation of sorts. It boosted our confidence, refreshing our souls and giving us a new lease on life and people!! While I didn’t really have any issues or a reason to attend the course, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, my mind was clear, I had better focus and lost what little interest I had in mindless conversations [does not mean I became a nerd or recluse, just taught me to pick my battles and people I had in my life].

The beauty of this program is – it is completely FREE, and the day you check out there is a donation box where you can contribute whatever you desire [ money is used to maintain the space, food, etc]

What an experience that was!!  I highly recommend this course to anyone who is going through any kind of turmoil, or needs some “ME” time~ It is unnerving being with yourself, and your thoughts but it also helps you get a perspective about yourself and what you seek from life! 


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