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A look inside a Vipassana Meditation retreat,
This review is from: Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me (Paperback)
Imagine attending a retreat in the Sierra Mountains of California, where you learn to connect with the innermost depths of your being. Imagine spending the 10 days in "Noble Silence," speaking only very infrequently to an instructor when you have a question about the lessons or techniques. If you've ever been curious about what happens at a meditation retreat, Raji Lukkoor does a superb job of describing her experiences, day by day in the practice of Vipassana Meditation. It was nice to see a real person with all the curiosity, questions and sometimes a little impatience go through the steps to learn techniques that will allow her to reach her goal of relieving fear-fueled reactions to life's many challenges.
The sessions were taught by a Mr. S.N. Boenka in the tradition of Burmese Vipassana meditation teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. The techniques were rediscovered by the Bhudda Siddhartha Gotama almost 25 centuries ago, so this isn't some new idea or fad. The lectures were recorded on DVD and played back to the participants at the beginning of sessions that were held throughout the day. In all, Raji and the other participants meditated for about 10 hours per day. I always wondered how anyone could sit upright for that long, trying to keep the mind clear so a kind of enlightenment could take place. Raji explained that they used pillows to help arrange body weight, some used a seat called a Back Jack that offered support and some who weren't physically able, sat in a chair to meditate. She describes straightening out her body to stand after these session and feeling stiff and unsteady on her feet at first, sometimes cramping as she sat. She showed the human side of the experience and discussed the problems she sometimes had in trying learn the techniques.
Before reading, I wondered if a book of 169 pages, largely describing hours and hours of trying to do keep a clear mind and concentrate on some very specific thoughts would be interesting, given the lack of physical activity. It was actually held my interest throughout because she was able to explain the process in layman's terms that I could relate to. She's also a very normal woman with a lot of the same thoughts that I have from time to time. She used a lot of words specific to Vipassana meditation which she explained as they came up, and she included a very useful glossary in the back of the book for easy reference when I'd forgotten exactly what a term meant.
If you've ever wondered about meditation retreats and if this type of thing is for you, this book is a wonderful resource and a good place to start.