I woke up around 5:30 AM from a very strange dream. I somehow escaped for the night with my partner, and all of a sudden we were making out in our apartment, but then it wasn’t our apartment. I explained that we shouldn’t be doing this because it’s one of the rules. As I am trying to explain, he transformed into a previous partner, who wasn’t as compassionate or understanding.  I began freaking out because I was at least two hours away from the course, and I would need to get back before anyone sees me (so, like 2 AM). Meanwhile, there is a cat in the apartment, who isn’t Banana, and who keeps hissing and posturing at me. I grab a nearby violin bow and point at it to exert myself as alpha, and end up poking it. It stops moving and when I take a look, I realize that I have badly punctured the poor creature, and it’s really hurt. I freak out even more and think about what kind of monster I am. I feel like complete crap and wake up. Luckily this was followed by a BM (toxins, am I right?).

Breakfast was as per usual. I walked a mile, and when I got back to my room I noticed I was developing foot blisters. I can’t complain considering that I have been using the same sandals everyday. I threw on some bandaids. Morning meditation goes well. We are always asked to return back to the hall for further instructions now. When we are given breaks, we all run to the restroom. I think all of us are drinking more water than usual. Again, so glad my hallmate gave me those extra bottles. I use them for my lemon water concoction and use my own canteen for regular water.  I still don’t understand why anyone would want to remain in the hall. Too loud, too smelly and too much energy.

Lunch is a vegan gluten-free lasagna, which isn’t bad. The squirrel makes its return and us regulars go out and help it get its filling of seeds for the winter. I keep thinking we could get in trouble for this, but it’s worth it. I meet with the teacher to ask what  ‘sweep and moss’ means. She explains he is saying ‘sweep and mass’ which means sweeping through the entire mass of the body, rather than focusing on each individual part. I ask about ‘weebletts’ and she says he is saying ‘wavelets.’ We both agree that he has a strange choice for words. I make three rounds on the trail before having to stop due to my blister pain. Afternoon meditation is quiet, smooth and quick. Can’t complain.

Tea time is better because I felt inspired by the squirrel and I snuck a second handful of seeds for myself to get protein in the evening. I throw olive oil salt and pepper on them. I notice the gal sitting next to me is really crying. I haven’t heard or seen too many people crying since being here. I figure because it’s so dry? I walk for a little while before sitting on a rock to enjoy the colorful sunset and the almost full moon. It is gorgeous up against the pink sky and looks huge. Lydia is especially loud during evening meditation, constantly shifting, coughing and making strange grunting noises. I assume she is in and out of sleep.

During the discourse, Goenka discusses how awareness and equanimity must go hand in hand in for meditation practice to be successful. He describes them like wings of a bird. They must be equal in length. He explains the differences between the four types of people: people who leave darkness for darkness, people who leave the light for darkness, people who leave darkness for light, and people who leave light for light. So then he tells us stories of many salty people wanted to take Buddha down, and one story really stuck to me. A Hindu priest whose followers started following Dharma, notices his livelihood going down the drain, because everyone was jumping on the Vipassana train, and no longer needed religious rituals led by priests. He shows up to kill Buddha and aggressively starts yelling at him. Buddha asks him to sit down, the priest doesn’t because he knows if he calms down he won’t move forward with killing him. So, he keeps verbally abusing him. Until Buddha asks, ‘Sir, do people visit your home?’ ‘Yes, many, why?!’ ‘What happens if they bring you a gift that you don’t want to accept?’ ‘I tell them to keep it because I don’t want it.’ ‘Well sir, you are a visitor in my home and I won’t accept your gift of verbal abuses.’ The man is so shocked by this statement that he begins receiving training in Vipassana. Goenka discusses how we can still respond without reacting if something is bothering us. We can stand up to it… just as long as it is 100% with good intention.

In avoiding creating sankara’s (roots of craving and aversion), the old sankara’s will naturally go away. Just like the body takes a while to die while it is starving from lack of calories. We will starve our body of sankaras. It’s important for us to take care of the root of the tree, otherwise, we won’t have fruit.  The last meditation of the evening was quite difficult. People seemed fidgety. Lydia wouldn’t stop moving, unzipping and zipping her purse, coughing, etc. I developed a cough myself, which is why I was happy to hear some chanting. Tomorrow is day 9. Holy moly!

Vipassana Day 9: How to Decline Gifts (a 12-day Journal of my Vipassana Silent Meditation Retreat Experience)

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