Distraction is becoming a norm. With easy access to Social Media, YouTube, cell phones and what not, it’s getting more and more difficult to focus on one particular thing. There’s always an unread email or message on Facebook that’s waiting for our attention. And the intense need to open that email or message is almost like our life depended on it.
That’s why, as an experiment, I decided to put away my cell phone and laptop for 10 days of silence in the mountains. I took the night-bus from Delhi (ISBT) to Mcleod Ganj, and then, an auto rickshaw to Tushita Meditation Centre, located next to Vipassana Meditation Centre. The auto rickshaw took me up to a certain point, after which I had to walk through a rugged path for about five minutes. That short walk made me realize that after having been in the city for so long, I’d forgotten what it was like to be surrounded by trees that are so tall that I had to crane my neck to get a better view.
Right when I entered Tushita, the first person to greet me was Yeshe, one of the three gorgeous dogs at the centre. As a beginner, I’d signed up for the Introduction to Buddhism Course months in advance. And my only expectation from the course was to be able to quieten the constant chatter in my mind. What I didn’t know was that there would be 90 other people from different parts of the world with their own reasons for being there. I was sharing a room with two other women, one from Spain (who later told me that she’s been going for at least one Vipassana Course every year for nearly 15 years) and the other from Germany (a volunteer at the Osho Ashram in Pune).
Our schedule was pretty simple. We spent the first half of the day listening to the teachings from our teacher (in my case, it was a monk from Australia, who has been practicing Buddhism since the 70s). When I say teachings, I mean talking about things like anger and attachment – stuff you and I can completely relate to because they affect our everyday lives. And in order for us to internalize these teachings better, we formed discussion groups and talked about it every afternoon for an hour (which was also the only time we could officially speak, unless we wanted to speak to Tashi, the librarian, about a book we were planning to borrow). Apart from discussions, we spent the second half of the day meditating, which again, was another way of reflecting on what we’d learnt during the day, and if we had a question, we could always ask our teacher.
But sometimes sitting on a cushion with your eyes shut can bring up a lot – old memories, fears, anxieties, disconnected and bizarre thoughts that take you by surprise, and if you’re lucky, even moments of peace and quiet. That’s what made going there worthwhile. Because even though, we may be outwardly connected to the whole world, inwardly, we are disconnected even from ourselves. That disconnect becomes evident when we don’t have distractions to take us away from that feeling. But if we stick with that feeling, we realize that it starts to lose its power and we get better at just being.
To know more about Tushita Meditation Centre or to sign up for a course, visit www.tushita.info