Vipassana Day 4: Impermanence (a 12-day Journal of my Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Experience)

Today I woke up at 4:15 AM to wash out the conditioning mask from my hair. I tried to fall back asleep, but failed. Today’s breakfast was better than yesterday's because they had my favorite fall fruit, persimmons! Honestly, I wish they would just serve us lunch leftovers, because there is nothing savory for breakfast. Or at least offer eggs (everything is vegetarian at the center). I don’t think I have mentioned that I ran out of my oxygenated magnesium (my magic bm pills), which means I’ve barely gone to the bathroom. Even with eating vegan mush, and the copious amounts of water I’ve been drinking, and laps around the track… Nada. My morning walk was beautiful, but there is this one woman who gives me the strangest look each time she walks by. This is the third day I’ve noticed. Maybe I stare strangely at the other gals? I think we are all losing it. Speaking of communal spaces, sometimes we will hold the door for each other, and we will use our eyes to say thank you or bow, or accidentally mouth it or even say it. We aren’t supposed to gesture at each other, let alone break noble silence, but it happens. Noble habits are hard to break.

There is a mother and daughter here together, who often sit together, and sometimes gesture or whisper to each other. It’s sweet and makes me miss my own mom. Even though I did a conditioning treatment, my hair still feels dry. I mean, it’s the high desert. Also my face feels super dry, and bumpy, maybe even hive-like. Am I overdoing the face masks, or allergic to something else?

The first meditation today was hard. It just felt longer than ever before. The teacher called us up in groups to see how we were doing with focusing on the nostrils and any sensations that arise during the meditations. I said it feels dry and warm, other said they could feel their nostrils expanding. My loud and older neighbor ‘Lydia’ said she can’t stop herself from falling asleep. We know… We can hear you snoring.

For lunch I did what I promised I would do, which is eat an entire plate of salad. On the side I had a corn tortilla with beans and cilantro. I’ve been taking advantage of all of the seasoning they have to offer. There is one I really like but I can’t remember the name. And nutritional yeast… mmm. After lunch, I waited patiently to speak with the teacher. While waiting, I realized the rabbits here don’t run away when you get near. They must know they are safe in Dhammaland.

During my ‘interview’ with the teacher, I expressed my frustrations and my agitation regarding my neighbor (Lydia), without naming names. She eluded that she knew exactly who I was talking about, without mentioning any specific names. She said this can be tough and unavoidable, because we are a big group in a small room. She mentioned they are probably not doing it on purpose and hopefully they will figure out it’s disturbing and stop. She recommended I turn my agitation into compassion. Maybe this person is having a difficult time? I then explained that I fluctuate between a feeling of peace and claustrophobia. She said it’s all normal. Just be aware of such, and let it go. Anicaa (impermanence aka everything is temporary). After the meeting, I washed some of my clothes with hand soap and hung them out to dry. Kind of fun. Let’s see how quickly they dry. Yes, this is how we party in dhammaland. I had time to make a round on the racetrack before break was over. Also I keep hearing weird sounds, like someone is bombing. We are next to 29 Palms military base after all. The dichotomy!!! Real question. Would they stop the meditation if something serious was happening out there?

 

The afternoon meditation was also really hard for me. I ended up being the noisy one. I kept fidgeting and and I just didn’t want to focus on my dry and burning nostrils. I thought about how I randomly woke up at 11:11 PM, and that it must have been a sign. I also thought about how one of the fellow meditators wears shirts with the strangest sayings written on them. I also thought about how it is majority white women here, and maybe just a quarter, or a little more of POC. Why is that? I look forward to the moment Goenka begins chanting (even though he has a frog-like voice), because that marks the end of our meditation. Tea break was same ol’, but I didn’t eat anything, because fruit just didn’t sound appetizing. My clothing dried quickly, but my towel was super hard. I decided to re-soak it and hang it up again.

 

This evening's meditation was also difficult, and now I am wondering if it’s because I ate a larger lunch? I didn’t feel full though. That’s a question for tomorrow. Again, I was so ecstatic to hear Goenka’s concluding chanting. At discourse, he discussed how nothing is solid and how everything is impermanent (anicca). We are different people from moment to moment, and you will never touch the same water in a river (unless it’s a lazy river). Same with our feelings. We may feel ecstasy one moment, pain the next. As long as we acknowledge our feelings and do not attach, we are fine. Tomorrow we will finally begin Vipassana practice. Apparently focusing on just the nose and nostrils has been preparing us for this? The last meditation also felt long, and images and feelings of old friends came up, but it was all temporary… Anicca. I forgot to grab my towel, and refused to walk outside alone. There are coyote droppings everywhere, and I can hear them digging outside my window at night.

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