A note from Kelly about her experience at the Dhamma Siri Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center:
May all beings be happy.
This was chanted often throughout the course in Pali, the ancient language of Siddhartha Guatama, Buddha, after which many students replied with the chant of “Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu,” meaning “Well said.”
This overarching theme of kindness, compassion and internal happiness was beautiful, a message repeated often enough perhaps only within environments such as the Vipassana Centers.
The physicality of sitting for hours (approximately 8-10) daily for meditation is extreme and causes one’s body to speak out in all manner of ways: transient soreness, numbness, creaking joints, aches and some more persistent pains that have yet to work their way from my body. That said, I didn’t mind. It was difficult but definitely tolerable and during my time at the center I made great strides in maintaining a settled, strong body and saw a great reduction in how much I felt the need to readjust my posture while meditating.
The meditation was wonderful and although it takes practice, patience and persistence I felt I took to it like a fish to water. I have meditated daily during the few days I have been home and intend to explore not only Vipassana further, but any other types of meditation I can encounter.
The silence was delightful. I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I felt perfectly at home and over the course of my short stay there ended up spending as much time as possible alone in my residence or walking the nature trail than in the casual group sittings of the hall, preferring not just silence, but also solitude. It was interesting to observe that even though we sat in silence with our eyes shut I still felt the social nature of the meditation hall taxing.
The reason I left early: Goenka, the man who designed this course, was broadcast via audio and video for about 2 hours a day chanting, expounding and occasionally giving a sentence here or there on furthering our meditation practice. I felt it was wholly pretentious and created an air of facade within many of the students, both of which are antithetic to meditation. I did not want my first serious foray into meditation to be tainted by an over-abundance of ego, so on the fourth day, after a two hour lesson on Vipassana, I left.
The entire staff and assistant teachers were all very gracious and nonjudgmental. I am certainly glad for my experience there while remaining confident in my decision of leaving when I did.
I was surprised by the guru-ism having gleaned the impression from their Web sites the course would be more about meditation and less about Goenka. For those who don’t mind, or even enjoy, following a guru and see no pretense, pomp or flare in their personas, I think this course would be beneficial. For others, who, like me, have difficulty voluntarily, albeit tacitly, encouraging a massive ego, perhaps another meditation resource would better suite you.
Upon leaving I noticed the cluttered and noisy life outside the center to which I returned: visual, urban ephemera abounded as I approached home and the radio offered only noise clutter. I drove the hour in silence.
My time isolated from my life (my ever-supportive and loving fellow, family, friends, pastimes, et cetera) produced in me an enormous gratitude which has yet to dwindle. I did not feel changed while at Dhamma Siri, but since my emergence into the world I have noticed I am much more still internally, better able to articulate my thoughts, less stressed and rejuvenated.
Forever your Dhamma Siri dropout,