Thursday, May 7, 2020

Day 1 Self-Course Vipassana & Water Fasting

It has been many weeks that I have decided to start a self-pilgrimage during this quarantine, only that I wanted to be alone at home so I do not disturb anyone, and no one disturbs me.

The intention to start this journey, was to go deeper within myself, to connect to my body, my mind & soul, a journey that I have been living for the past 8 years, & with my first course in Vipassana in 2015, which took me to a higher level of consciousness, & connection deep in my body & organs.

I am going to be 40 in 13 days, (funny enough, I just wrote about the number 13 in the previous blog) today is May 7th, 2020. So this is a gift for myself to go deeper in every level... and I can't say it has been easy at all, although today is just day 2 of my journey, and I simply decided to start writing & reflecting on this path from Day 1 which was yesterday.

So May 5th, I went to see my sister and her family, it was my nephew's Birthday, so even in this confinement I decided to join them for the small celebration. R (my nephew) wanted to have a carrot cake for his BD, and knowing that I am vegan, he asked if it can be made without eggs and cream. Though I told him it is ok, let him have it the way he loves it and I will get something on the side for me, so I indulged myself with a Vegan Chocolate Fudge with Mocha, and I am pretty sure there was a good amount of sugar that I haven't had in a long time. & to get in the celebration with everyone, I tasted the carrot cake that my sister prepared - and R was so happy I tried his BD cake.

I told you this story, as the second day was my 1st Day water fasting & silent meditation retreat, at home & from home.

For the ones who are not familiar of Vipassana, here is the definition:

Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living. This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The Courses

The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.
The course requires hard, serious work. There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one's attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them. Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings---Ref:

Here is an intro video about Vipassana, maybe that will encourage you to join the path.

Also to add on, it is all done in silence.

I have decided to add the water fast to this practice, although the teacher requested that I do not do that - plus that I would try it only for three days and don't need to totally finish the 10 days.

I already done the course 2 times sitting (2015, 2017) and 1 time serving (2018).

Plus I had friends calling and being concern about the procedure I was undertake, knowing that I am home alone, not to mention my family, only one, my sister lives here, in Montreal, all the rest are between Lebanon & Dubai, and their fear was, what if something happens to you.. how can we know. During this period, my phone will be off, and I am off all social media and no TV entertainment, the only thing I would view every evening is the evening discourses by Mr. Goenka. Also, a friend mentioned why do I have to go through this punishment, and honestly, because I have done the course with a group, plus the water fasting with a group, I felt over joy, peace & harmony within me, so I am wondering how this solitude challenge will be.

Anyhow, I tried to create a way to connect to my parents & vice versa in case of emergency, and promised my mum to text her every day to let her know that I am fine.

Their concern is that I faint or loose balance, as last year I had a major anemia, where my blood hemoglobin went down to 6 over 11.6 - and the last kind of test I did in a blood donation truck, that was in January, the lady said it is around 10. So in that matter I am not concerned.

I have done the water fasting for 10 days in Egypt, in Soma Bay at the red sea, in 2018, where I participated in a retreat with many people, who fasted for 21 days. I did only 10, as I was exchanging my work in exchange of attending the course for 3 weeks.

I wanted to mention as well, the reason I am doing this challenge, is because, in Lebanon the USD used to be converted to 1.5 & now it went up to 4.5 so imagine the challenge the Lebanese people are going through, plus the government is so corrupted, they have no way to be helped, other then by the immigrants, and some people in Lebanon who have money. Everything is becoming too expensive that people can't afford buying anything.

I wanted  to show that the body is so intelligent, it can create the perfect environment for it to heal, simply by providing what it needs, even if it is only water.

At the course we took in Egypt, a doctor was always present to take our blood pressure and measures our weight, body fat, body water and muscles, and that is what I am missing here.

In order to keep up, I added the following to my day to day:

Warm water with lemon in the am
Water with lemon, apple vinegar cider, maple syrup, & cayenne pepper
Herbal Teas with ginger, turmeric, cumin, nettle, yarrow, sage, thyme, fennel, yellow dock, elderberry, raspberry leafs, & cinnamon, which I drink warm during the day, and most of the ingredients are a boost for the iron in the blood.
Water with Chlorophyll

So yesterday, which was my Day 1, everything went smooth, waking up at 4:40 am as requested (usually at 4am) shower, getting ready for morning chanting (Mr. Goenka's recording, I simply listen)
Then meditation on my own, then at 7 am I joined an online group sitting ( as now the the confinement, everyone is organizing online classes), following that I meditated a bit alone then decided to go on a walk. I walked for 11km, kept me fresh, and needed the sun.
Coming back, had my lunch (water + Herbal Teas + prep water (as above) then followed a group sitting at 2:30 from one of the recording, and afterwards I did an hour of Yoga.

During the whole day I did experience some headache, and I believe it was of the fact of what I ate the day before, specially the sugar in the cakes. My body was reacting, and letting go.

As for the meditations, God, that wasn't easy at all, not one sitting position helped, my mind was wandering around, and falling asleep. Also, during the course, at the beginning for three days you learn one kind of meditation, Anapana, which is observing the breath going in the nostril and outside of the nostril, focusing on the small part of the upper lip below the nose. And following day 4 afternoon, you start the Vipassana process, which is the second meditation, and it is all about observing the sensations in the body.

As this is a self-course, we do not have the instructions as we do during the campus group, so it is all about doing my best to start from zero, with all the instructions that are related to old students who finished the 10 days course, only that, even though I am an old student, I simply am trying to start from scratch.

In that moment, after the yoga, I have cheated... I found 20 pumpkin seeds that I had from a pumpkin and I started eating them, I felt hunger, plus in my kitchen cupboard, I found an expired vegan protein that I can add water to it & drink it...I added chocolate protein to it too. (did I mention that I have emptied my frigde?) anyways, that was satisfying, and in the evening before the discourse, I took some herbal laxative tea. (back in Egypt they gave us for three days in the morning, a bit of water diluted with Espon salt, I decided not to go there.)

Afterwards, I followed an online group sitting at 6pm, followed by the Mr. Goenka's discourse... which it always explains all what you have been through during the day.

I slept at 8:45pm.... and that was a good sleep

TO be continued....

Here is a video of the day 1 discourse, it will surely gives you answers even to your day to day life.

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