“No talking. No phones or technology. No working out. No music. No reading. No writing. No killing (even mosquitoes!). No stealing. No masturbating. No sex. No lying. No drugs or alcohol. No moving during “sittings of strong determination,” were the rules which Piran Tarapore, a 21-year old student had to agree to before walking through the gates into complete (and noble) silence for 10 days at the Dhamma Punna Vippasana Centre in Pune. Men on the left, women on the right. Meditators fill the hall through separate entrances. Piran Tarapore was officially in ‘meditation prison.’
The only way to go for meditators once they decide to take the course up is towards successful completion. No backing out in-between the course for participants is permitted by the teacher. As we know, a very small percentage of the Gen Z wakes up before sunrise, but Piran not only had to wake up at 4 AM but also start meditating every morning from 4:30 to 6:30 AM, but that was the easiest part of the day for Piran since the session ended with an hour-long poem by S.N. Goenka, the founder of the Vipassana Meditation technique.
The most difficult part for Piran Tarapore was the plethora of thoughts that came into his mind while he was trying to stay calm and focused in order to meditate. While sitting for several hours every day, Piran thought: “Why am I here? What am I doing? This was a terrible idea. One hour, fine. Two hours, doable. Three hours, are you kidding me? Five, six, seven, eight, nine and a half more hours after that? God, where are you? Are my legs going to move after this? What if my back breaks? What about the fight I had with my best friend all those years ago? Why am I still thinking about my ex-lover? The thoughts went on and on and on… endlessly.”
However, Piran Tarapore admits that as challenging as it may be for meditators to persevere through those 10 days, the powerful experience did help him considerably to reconnect with his body and mind. “My body is always feeling something, I just have to take the time and make the effort to notice it,” says Piran. As every sensation experienced from head to toe was real and valid, Piran no more felt the need to go chasing intense highs to feel something. Piran travels overseas and practices with other meditators whenever he can make the time.
Life isn’t a bed of roses, it never was, and it’s not meant to be. Life is a rollercoaster, with ups and downs. Vipassana teaches the art of living through self-observation. Meditators are told to steer away from both, craving and aversion and recognise every feeling experienced within their body with equanimity. Piran Tarapore adds that the theory of experiencing our ever-changing selves taught during the course makes complete sense, backed by science, but the practical experience could be unpleasant at first for many. “The amount of pain felt all through in the body, especially in the back, neck and knees was unbearable at times. But then again, at some point, I did feel one with the universe. That’s when I felt that I need to share this experience with the world as much as I can,” says Piran who reveals that Vipassana turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him.