Thinking Crystal Clearly...

April 5, 2013

A few years ago, I was doing a Masters in Creative Writing but had a block during the dissertation, for which I only had a month left.  I really struggled and although I had written a lot, I wasn't happy with it. I didn't seem to be able to free my thoughts from everyday quandaries and was constantly questioning everything, including every sentence.  A friend, who didn't know about my deadline happened to mention that he'd heard Vipassana meditation helped with clear thinking.  I had never done any such meditation or mindfulness practice and was not a fan of 'quiet, reflective time'.  I simply used to get bored...little did I know that true meditation is being attentive to the 'now' and letting go as there is a new 'now' to attend to, with all the sensory information that goes with it, then there is the next new 'now' and so on.  There needs to be attention all the time, each moment.  Hardly the stuff of boredom. Meditation is ironically a fast and demanding practice in the beginning, requiring constant exercise of control and discipline, to become aware of what is there now, and then to let go.  The latter in itself is a significant skill.  Ultimately I found the empowering ability of directing one's mind the most profound and unexpected skill I came away with, on top of all the mental clearing that happened.

I went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Ireland, and was climbing the walls by the third day, cursing the fact I had ever heard about vipassana, although I could only curse silently, inside my mind.  There was no outlet, no writing, no speaking, no eye-contact, no nothing... only listening to instructions for short periods each day and then meditating and observing what was going on inside my mind and body.  I don't want to  spoil the fun for those of you who are now undoubtedly tempted to give it a go after my enticing review... but I will say this... I finished, lighter in weight because of the controlled eating that is encouraged, but also lighter mentally, emotionally and very sharp in thought. Afterwards, I completed my dissertation in record time and got a distinction.  I have since completed a draft of that dissertation into a fully-fledged novel, which I hope to get edited and published (the topic is not related to meditation though).

I have meditated using emotrance or vipassana techniques everyday since then and it has helped me manage my thoughts, emotions, responses, fears, etc.  I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to experience a deep connection within yourself and with others, and the world around you, your choices, your life, to consider vipassana. It is donation-based and there are several centres around the world, mostly with a waiting list. I believe there are day or evening practices that run in various localities as well.


There is no one answer to life and one's question, but being able to understand one's feelings, or sit with discomfort, wait for the passing of distress and difficulty, knowing it is only a temporary phase, having the courage to put your attention there and sensing what there is to balance and gain insight from... these are invaluable gifts. And I do believe this kind of inner search and need for contentment is for everyone, at some point in their life.

Click here for the link that describes the effects of vipassana on prisoners as well...as I said... it's for everyone... 

This month, some help out there, provided by people around you and me...

 

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