3

A Date to Remember – #TheBlindDate #SayYesToTheWorld

Every day that you live is a blind date with the world. You never know what will come tomorrow. All you can do is live each of them to the fullest. I might not be forever around but whenever you will go out and see the world just remember in all those places that I visited I left a part of me for you to find it and make it your own. Every time you visit a new place It’s like a blind date. Be a traveler and not a tourist. Make a Bucket List, Travel to Explore…Meet people…Speak to them…Live the culture…Eat their food…Celebrate their festivals…Hear their stories…Trust your instincts and the world will be your home and while you are there become one of them. Go and live your passion and #SayYesToTheWorld.

I reminded myself of these words from my father, as I was about to board the flight to a location in Southeast Asia.

It was a pleasant morning and the sky was bright and clear with some scattered white clouds losing their way to home. I thought of taking a nap instead of watching reruns of the pre-installed TV programs and movies as a part of the in-flight entertainment system.

About 30 minutes into the air, the flight started shaking. For a moment or two, I thought this was regular turbulence. But it started to get worse and felt terrible. By my calculations, we should have been over the Indian Ocean. I looked outside the small airline window. The plane was amidst real dark treacherous clouds. There were continues flashes of lightning complemented by resounding thundering. It was something that I had never experienced before.

It was not a nice feeling, the plane was going up and down like a roller coaster and it seemed as if it was already beyond the control of the cockpit crew. I tightened the already fastened seat belt and held onto anything possible. I had this strong eerie feeling that this might be the last trip that I am taking…’I-am-about-to-die’ – the sensation came all over me.

Things started coming off. The plane was beginning to lose chunks of its wings. The overhead luggage started falling here and there. There were shrieking prayers, crying children, hugging families and dying souls. Even the crew was holding on to seats for their lives.

Suddenly a huge flash of light hit the plane. The whitening effect was so bright and blinding that nobody was able to see anything henceforth. I closed my eyes and remembered my loved ones for the last time.

In a couple of minutes, everything went silent. The plane had stopped trembling and the skies had suddenly cleared. In fact, it was clearer than ever before. An unknown force was pulling the plane vertically downwards. The movement felt as if the plane was being maneuvered and controlled from outside. It was slow enough not to cause panic anymore. It finally landed.

The uproar and screaming had mellowed down and was replaced with the tears of joy. Nobody was concerned, including the crew, about what this place was. Everybody just was happy to be alive, breathing and on land. The exit gates finally opened.

The moment I got out the first thing that I saw was a huge snow covered mountain in the backdrop of the landscape. My initial thought was how the hell did they end up making an airport at such a precarious location. Still not completely recovered from our disastrous experience I took each step with caution. I was finally on the unknown land.

The Everest

There was a crew, which had lined up to receive us and was dressed up in silvery crimson uniform and in a material that I had never seen before, forget about wearing it. Something was peculiarly odd about them. I felt that my senses aren’t in the right condition and hence I was feeling so.

I was not sure whether they would understand my language and still gave it go and asked one of the members, “What place is this? Where are we?”

The person didn’t respond immediately. After proper consideration, she said, “Sir, please follow us. The authorities will answer your queries. We are only allowed to receive you and take you to them”. Her sentences were not flowing…she was speaking word by word without any connotation and tonality as if she had just learned the language.

We walked into the ultra-modern glass structure surround by surreal picturesque natural beauty. We reached a cabin and entered after she did a retina scan. She asked me to sit and wait for the person from the authority. I was feeling scared, lost and thirsty but was too intimated to ask for anything. I quietly sat down.

Someone entered the room. She (I thought so) was tall, bald but had strikingly shiny spotless skin. She was also dressed up in that material, with teal being the only difference instead of crimson.

Before she could say anything, I questioned, “Ma’am! What place is this? Where are we?” ‘Would it be a good idea to ask for some water’, I thought.

She pressed a button; a small portion in the wall separated and a glass of water came out in a tray. I was confused to have it but too thirsty to actually have a choice.

She said, “Hi Sir! Please calm down and have some water. You are safe here. You are in a parallel Universe and this is Planet U or Utopia – an exact replica of the Planet Blue. We were transporting something through our teleportation beam, which was left exposed for some extra milliseconds and that’s how your plane got entrapped in that energy field and you all landed here. Please don’t worry about anything. No harm would be done to anyone.” She too was speaking in a word-by-word format. I was still wondering whether I asked for water loudly and missed half of what she said. I really wanted to ask, “Why are you speaking like that?”

“Sir, we don’t speak here on this planet. We only read minds. All our communication is telepathic, though no one stops us from using words, we believe in saving energy of all kind.”

In shock and awe, I picked up the glass of water with trembling hands and started having it. It was the freshest of liquid I ever had. It did calm me down.

She continued, “I am your chaperone till your stay on our planet. I will be here 24*7 and you just have to remember me and I will be happy to help. We are trying to arrange for your travel back to Planet Blue, till then please consider this as your home. Would you like to have some food or would you like to rest for a while?

I knew that my time was limited here and since it was an unknown land, I wanted to make the best of it. I would like to see some places while I am here.

“Definitely Sir. Let me make it easy for you. I know the geography of your Planet and since it is similar we should visit the places you might not be easily able to visit on your planet. We don’t have countries or any borders here on this Planet. You can simply walk and hop on from places to places. For your reference I will use the name of the places that are there on the Planet Blue”, she further added.

“Whatever you get on your planet you will get the same here, may be better. Everybody sees the renowned locations what if I show you places of your own world and make you experience things that will leave you speechless”, she said with a wide smile.

I agreed and said, “Yeah! That’s a wonderful idea. People usually visit those known wonders of the world. Please take me to places which I haven’t been to and let me experience those hidden pleasures and locations.” I handed her a list of places and countries I have been to.

Kashmir

She got up from her seat and signaled me towards a gallery. After the exit, there was a translucent blue colored vehicle without any wheel. It was about 2 feet in the air and it worked on a technology, which depended on the magnetic field of their planet.

For the first time in my life, I was witnessing something as strange as this. Obviously, I had to be the pillion rider of this supersonic vehicle. She asked, “From where would you like to start?”

“I thought you could read the mind”, I replied with a grin and held the backrest tight.

We reached our first destination. Very few Indians can claim that they have experienced something like this. I was viewing Kashmir and its snow-covered peaks from the Pakistan side. It was a mesmerizing sight. I knew I had to see a lot and couldn’t afford to spend too much time at a single location.

Our next destination was the ancient city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. It is a beautiful city. We visited the Blue Mosque and did take out time to try out some of the Afghani bread. The locals were playing the Pashto tunes and some of them were surprisingly dancing to them as well. We too joined in. She did have a humane side to her irrespective of her artificial appearance.

Big Almaty Lake

We then headed further north to Almaty. Flying over the Tien Shan Mountains was a sight I would take to my grave. You can find the last wild apple forest in the world there. In fact, Almaty gets its name from that only – it means ‘Father of Apples’. We decided to pluck a few and have them sitting next to the tranquil Big Almaty Lake.

Next came the place of Vodka and stunning women – Russia. After tasting some of the finest Vodkas and getting our spirits high we headed over to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal. There was no point in spending too much time in those chilling deserted forests of Siberia and we decided to move on.

Clay pots used to make wine

We reached Georgia – Balcony of Europe. She took me to Mtskheta – a Unesco world heritage site. We met some of the most incredible and warm people in the world. A family hosted a dinner for us; prepared some ‘Khachapuri’ and served some of the finest homemade wine, one can ever taste. We decided to take some rest there.

Next, we headed to Armenia – a country that lost about 1.5 million people in one of the worst genocide in human history and still home to the friendliest people around. It is also home to the oldest winery in the world. It was worth every sip along with ‘Lavash’ – their awesome bread that has successfully found its way in the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage.

Hot air balloons – Turkey

She then took me to Turkey to show some of the most unrealistic views. ‘Cappadocia’ for its hot air balloon experience against the backdrop of a spellbinding landscape. Then she took it a notch higher; we visited ‘Pamukkale’ – the land of thermal pools – the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside.

Our next stop was Greece and we started with the ancient city of Acropolis, Athens before heading to one of the most visually stunning Greek islands – Santorini. No trip to Greece is complete without visiting Mykonos – the Ibiza of Greece.

Santorini

We then crossed the Dead Sea and headed to a place surrounded by conflicts and chaos – Jordan. It is so amazing that it is a world in itself. After visiting the historic ancient treasures like Petra and Jerash, we went for a true Bedouin experience – camping in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool and gazing at the stars.

We crossed the entire stretch of Sahara desert before heading to the most unique location of the Planet. You don’t realize the perfidious breadth of the desert until you actually fly over it.

I had previously covered a lot of Europe and hence requested her to take me to Iceland. It is a different planet altogether. From geography to topographical features, all are vividly peculiar compared to the rest of the world. She said you are lucky this time of the year and we were able to witness the Northern Aurora.

The Northern Aurora Lights

We moved on to another colder region, spotting a rare polar bear, the home of maple syrup – Canada. There is nothing that would amaze you once you visit Iceland but every sight has its own charm and there is nothing like standing in mist from the Niagara Falls.

We then proceeded towards the land of ‘Mayans’ in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent and advanced ancient civilizations. The heart of their culture was in ‘Chichen Itza’. You can also try the Yucatecan food for its Mayan influences.

Everybody speaks about Belgium chocolates – The Mexican ones are equally good. Don’t forget to try a pint of Mexican beer and their tequila – in fact, it is the official drink of the country.

If you are a believer in Aliens and in the fact that they have surely visited the Planet Blue pay a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru, to know what they were really capable of. It is also known as ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and a Unesco world heritage site too.

Machu Picchu – Peru

It was time to head over to the so-called peculiar lands – Australia and New Zealand. They are unique in their habitat, vegetation, animals and nearly everything.

Both of us had a spoon full of Manuka honey – produced by bees rummaging on the flowers of the Manuka tree, a very special tree that only grows in New Zealand. We hogged to some Kiwi fruit before traveling to catch the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo. It is as majestic and surreal as the Northern Aurora.

If you want to see a white shark or a deadly poisonous snake then Australia is the place to be. Along with its beauty, the eccentric nature of the land has given birth to some really strange animals and features – especially the Great Barrier Reef – the largest coral reef system.

She suggested we should return, as it has been already so many days that we were missing from the base and by now they might have worked out the system for my safe return.

Manuka Flower and Bee

I had lost all count of time…day and night…was awestruck and hypnotized in the entire splendor of the planet and above all her magnificence and simplicity.

She wanted to show me one last place and then head back. We parked our vehicle and decided to take a stroll on the Great Wall of China while sipping at some of their potent teas including the most expensive of them all – The Panda tea. It would have been unfair if we just had Panda tea without actually paying them a visit.

We got back on our vehicle and started on the journey back. She said, “Remember the mountain that you saw when you landed. That was Mt. Everest.”

Great Wall of China

Sitting at the top of it and knowing that everybody else is below you is a pretty ‘high’ feeling in itself. We sat there and chatted for a while before returning to the base.

The next day it was time for me to go back from this enriching experience. A lump formed in the middle of my chest. She was there with her effervescent smile to guide me back to the restored plane. I knew no matter how much I see the world now it would be incomplete without her.

People say that they have made a Bucket list but I can proudly say that I made #TheBlindList

 

For all those who love to Travel,

For all those who believe in Blind Dates,

For all those who Travel to Explore

For all those who are openminded

For all those who #SayYesToTheWorld

And

For all those who love #TheBlindList

It’s not a Goodbye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is my entry to #TheBlindList and #SayYesToTheWorld Contest

Watch the Video and Fall in Love with the World again

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28

I wish an Alarm Clock would Ring


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

Mom was seemingly perturbed by the last call. Her uneasiness was pretty evident and had started sweating profusely. I knew I had to talk to her.

“Mom! What happened? Who was that on the call”, I asked worriedly.

She was in a state of shock. I asked her to sit down, handed her a glass of water and questioned again.

This time she somehow managed to articulate that an aunty in her close set of friends has committed suicide. I was astonished to hear that.

On further probing mom told that the lady was suffering from depression. Depression was successful in claiming the second life in the past two months in my neighbourhood. Mom informed that she had two kids, a loving husband, a well-off background and a perfect happy life. Mom is still not been able to completely come to terms with the suicide.

Such is the beauty of depression. You never know that it is eating you till it suddenly engulfs you completely.

I said to her, “If we were aware that she was suffering from depression…if only we could have got a chance to speak to her…a life could have been saved.”

The WOW Prompt

There are many people who seem completely normal and happy but are suffering from depression and most of the times they themselves don’t know. Their lives may look perfect on the outside and you won’t find a reason as to what’s the cause but depression sneaks in silently. All you need is to talk to someone. If one feels that someone is suffering from depression or exhibiting certain symptoms, please, the first and the best thing you can do is to talk to them.

Some startling facts related to suicide & depression:

  • About 135000 people commit suicide in India per year.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 18-29 age group.
  • Most suicides in India are by people aged below 44 years.
  • Around 57 million people are suffering from Depression, an astonishing 18 % of global estimate, as per WHO.
  • About 15-20% of those who are clinically depressed commit suicide.

Some days ‘I Wish An Alarm Would Ring Loud And Notify Me Whenever someone is about to commit suicide and I could speak to that person and bring a smile to their face and somehow manage to save a life.’

Anybody who feels like they want to talk…just about anything…I am all ears 🙂

For all those who are sad,

For all those who are depressed,

For all those who have these scary thoughts,

And

For all those who consider such steps…

PLEASE SMILE AND TALK TO SOMEONE.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

References:

http://yourdost.com/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html?q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&

http://www.allaboutdepression.com/gen_04.html

https://www.medindia.net/health_statistics/general/suicide-in-india-statistics.asp

From depression to suicide: Why more Indians are falling into the trap

19

The Mystery Blogger Award

The Mystery Blogger Award

To begin with let me express my immense gratitude towards Sonia Chatterjee for trusting me as a worthy nominee for the Mystery blogger award. I have been blogging for the past eight years (yeah its true) but always treated it as a hobby until this year’s blogchatter’s ebook carnival where I published a compilation of my top posts and stories and started seriously putting efforts in blogging too. My father always wanted me to pursue my passion but unfortunately he isn’t around to see me pursuing it.

Thank you again Sonia – I accept the award with all humbleness and would treat it as fuel to weave more words. I am beginning to learn how to take compliments.

Mystery behind Mystery Blogger Award

Okota Enigma started this award with the underlying theme being, “It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Every award is preceded by some rules and mystery blogger award is no different. Here are the rules of this award –

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog. List the rules.
  2. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  5. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  6. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  7. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  8. Share a link to your best post(s).

The Mystery Blogger Award

The first three already taken care of, lets begin with the fourth one.

Three things about me:

I was born dead and am not kidding. I have even written a post on the same. You can read it here.

Why I chose the name ‘The Contemplation of a Joker’?

Jostein Gaarder said, “A joker is a little fool who is different from everyone else, he is not a club, a diamond or a spade, he is not an eight or a nine or a king or a jack. He is an outsider”. Here I have tried to be a Joker in everyone’s lives, bringing them bits of stories and laughter from all corners of life. As is the case with a Joker, they might not remember my name, they might not even know the real me, but I will always be glad that I was, am and will always be a part of the readers lives. I touched without actually being in their lives…just like a joker is in the stack with other cards without actually belonging there.

Some unique features:

You will be surprised to know that WWE (earlier WWF) played an important part in me improving my English. I am a good cook – I can actually prepare a whole meal – my father couldn’t even light up a stove, hence my mom made sure that her son turns out to be better at household chores. Few lucky ones have had the privilege of being hosted by me. I am a great relationship advisor too. Over the years many people and close friends have approached me and hopefully they received the right advice. I have been a sportsperson all my life, involved with some or the other at any given time – currently preparing for the Delhi Half Marathon.

Moving on to the questions Sonia put across:
Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody knows.

The actual question should be could I tell you something that no one knows, there is a reason that no one knows it but let me still surprise you. I don’t eat ice creams. I know I know.

Which genre of books do you enjoy reading the most and why?

Anything, which has the potential to stir emotions within a soul, that emotion can be any, the genre isn’t important. My personal favorite being George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal farm and most of Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho’s work.

What is the best piece of advice or feedback that you received for your writing?

That “Don’t struggle to be a writer, that you become the day you hold a pen and scribble your thoughts. Focus on being an honest and relatable writer. Its like, “dance like no one is watching and write like everyone is living your words.”

If you were stranded on an island, what things would you take with you and why?

Few good books, descent supply of my favorite food and a solar powered satellite phone (inspiration cast away) – so that when I am done being in solitude I shall call for help. In all seriousness a book on how to survive when you are stranded on an island. 😀

What is the weirdest or craziest thing that you have ever done?

My weird might not be your crazy, though if you have read my ‘Death on Karnataka express’ you should know that’s as weird as a person can get. Since we are talking about food here I once ate a cockroach. Yeah go faint.

I nominate:

Arjun Gupta – https://knightofsteel.com/

Anshu Bhojnagarwala – https://anshubhojnagarwala.wordpress.com/

Ashwini Menon – https://ashwinisperceptions.com/

Deepti Verma – https://nationalviews.com

Dipali Bhasin – https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com

Huma Masood – https://www.silkenscribblings.com/

Jyotsna Sharma – https://bhaatdaal.wordpress.com/

Kadambari Singh – http://thevibrantdiaries.blogspot.com/

Lavanya Srinivasan – https://thelavmuse.com/

Leha Divakar – https://theliteraryaffairblog.wordpress.com/

MsArora – https://education17048.wordpress.com/

Nidhi R Gautam – https://theprivatesocialite.wordpress.com/

Nupur Maskara – http://www.nutatut.com/

Prerna Wahi – https://prernawahi.com/

Priyal Poddar – http://parilifestyle.com/

Riddhi Sharma – http://riddhiculous.com/

Richa S Mukherjee – https://richasmukherjee.com/

Shalini Nair – https://kohleyedme.com/

Shivangi Srivastava – https://myketosutra.wordpress.com/

I know everyone has their commitments so don’t feel you have to participate just because I nominated you but I would definitely love you to, and if you want to take part and I haven’t nominated you consider yourself nominated.

Five questions for my nominations:
  • What’s your superpower?
  • What do you want to be engraved on your tombstone?
  • What’s that one advice you give to everyone?
  • What’s your take on soul mate
  • Weird one – What do you love more – Cockroach or lizard?
My personal favorite:

The Alien Bridge – sometimes when I read it – I get surprised that I wrote this.

Read it here: The Alien Bridge

For all those who love recognitions,

For all those who love competitions,

For all those who are mysterious,

For all those who are nominated

And

For all those who have received Mystery Blogger Award

It’s not a Goodbye,

But It’s a GOOD BYE…

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

35

When I Tell the Truth

 


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

When I tell the truth…

I was returning from the temple back to my room. She was walking on the other side of the road with her roommate. Both of them were my classmates too. I closed my eyes, silently prayed to God and hopefully crossed the road.

I began, “I want to discuss something really important with you and seek your advice.”

“Definitely, I am all ears”, She replied.

“There is this girl, who is really amazing. I feel I have fallen for her. There is only a single thought in my mind…and that thought belongs to her”, I said.

“So what’s the issue…that you have fallen for her”, she said sarcastically.

“Hahaha…No No! She is a dear friend. I treasure the bond. I am scared that the moment I share my feelings with her, I might lose both; her and the friendship”, I said anxiously.

“Listen the honest thing for you would be to speak up about your romantic inclinations towards her. If she is genuinely a close friend then I am sure she would understand it and won’t let it strain the friendship even if she isn’t willing to give the relationship a try”, she advised.

“I am still hesitant. I mean you are saying this because you aren’t in that position and this might still backfire”, I persisted.

“Trust me. If your emotions are heartfelt and sincere they will reach their correct destination and create the rightful impact. Don’t worry…just go ahead and express it to her”, she encouraged.

wow prompt – Blogadda

“That girl is YOU”, I said and there was complete silence. They both were staring at each other. She was stunned while her roommate was giggling.

“Yes…that girl is YOU”, I said again.

Suddenly out of nowhere, she started laughing. I was amazed and somehow embarrassed. Here I was pouring my heart out and she was blowing it up as nothing happened.

“Nice try Mr. Joker. I loved the way you worked around it. I am aware of your pranks. Keep working”, she laughed off loudly.

About thirty seconds later I said, “Exactly, everybody has fallen prey to my jokes and pranks except you”, desperately trying to hide my shattered heart with a wide grin.

I guess the irony of my life is when I tell the truth people treat it as a Joke and when I joke they take it straight to heart.

For all those who have been friend zoned,

For all those who have met similar fate,

For all those whose jokes are misunderstood

And

For all those who know how to smile on themselves…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Its an amazingly humbling feeling when somebody is inspired by your words. Here is a post by MsArora inspired by this very post by the Joker. Read here

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

3

Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation

Vipassana – A Meditative transformation

Read the previous part Vipassana – The Sensations here

Day 6:

On sixth day the mind traversal was supposed to be done from tip of the head to the toe and then from toe to the tip of head.

I was starting to feel sensations all throughout my body now and many a times the energy would flow like a stream and would hardly have any resistance. The very moment I would love this feeling the stark grumpy baritone voice of Mr. Goenka would pronounce if you are enjoying the speed with which you are able to feel sensations and are able to traverse throughout the body that means you aren’t learning the technique.

He reminded the basic premise – not to enjoy anything – just observe, become aware, be mindful and maintain equanimity.

Day 7:

Focus was now on moving through multiple parts of the body simultaneously. For example – Earlier you were focusing on right arm and left arm one at a time now you were supposed to move through both the arms simultaneously. Continue doing so while moving from head to toe and toe to head. Just in case if you feel any of the part is left, comeback to it and try to concentrate on it individually.

By seventh I noticed that I was sleeping for more than three hours. In fact it didn’t feel like I require it more than that. In the mornings I was all refreshed inspite of less sleep. It was because my mind was getting calm and relaxed.

The critical part of sleep is to do physical and mental repair. By meditating for 11 hours a day for the past six days, the mental repair part was already done. Mr. Goenka even tells in one of the discourses that if you are practicing properly your subconscious mind is well rested and hence will require less sleep.

Photo by Mattia Faloretti on Unsplash

Day 8:

Eighth day you continue doing the same thing from the previous day but alternating between faster traversal and part-by-part movement from head to toe and toe to head. By now you would be able to pass through multiple organs together, even if you don’t feel it that is completely normal. The moments you feel it isn’t free flowing go back to doing part-by-part till the time you cover each part of the body.

I categorically remember during my morning session at 8:00 am I felt something burst internally right in the center of the chest. I felt it all throughout my body in a single go. It lasted for only a couple of seconds but it was so strong that I still remember it.

I discussed the same with the teacher in the afternoon, he told that is completely normal if you are practicing as per the instructions, but he cautioned me of not to be joyous about it and not to begin seeking it. Not every session is same. You might not get the same feel again ever. Some sessions are good compared to others but the learning was to be mindful of each and every one of them with the same perspective.

One more thing I noticed that I was beginning to feel no pain. I was able to sit through every session without any movement of any part. The urge to take a peek at the wall clock was also long gone.

Day 9:

The instructions in the morning session were to try to concentrate and observe sensations internally. If you were experiencing free-flow then you might be able to do internal scans. You could penetrate your body through your chest and exit from back or from left to right and right to left.

Try to control the mind and try different permutations and combinations. Then back again from head to toe and toe to head and then part-by-part.

The best news came during the discourse at the end of the day. Mr. Goenka informed everyone that we have successfully learnt Vipassana and it ends today. For the tenth he said we would be taught the third part of the ten-day Vipassana course. During the tenth we would be allowed to speak to each other…yeah you read it right we would be allowed to interact with each other.

All the dull mimosa pudica (Chui mui plant) faces immediately started glowing like morning sunflowers.

The Tranquil way

Day 10:

‘Mangal Maitri’ – was the last and third part of Vipassana. This day is also referred to as ‘Metta’ day. In the morning session Mr. Goenka teaches us how after learning Vipassana you are full of peace, compassion, love and kindness and why it is necessary that you don’t stop here and try to impart and spread it.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t mean to get more people to sign up for the course. It simply meant at the energy level. Simply pray that there is peace, love and kindness throughout your neighborhood and the world.

After that session at around 11:00 am the ‘Noble Silence’ officially ended.

For the first time in my life I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I was too overwhelmed by the feeling of surviving the whole ten days.

Our belongings were returned post lunch on the same day.

I placed my first call to mom. Since birth this was the only time I had not spoken to mom for ten straight days.

Day 11:

After the early morning session and breakfast we were allowed to leave for our places.

I felt refreshed, calm and at peace. With renewed energy I headed home.

For all those who are calm,

For all those who are kind,

For all those who are at peace,

And,

For all those who have successfully completed Vipassana course…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but It’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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2

Vipassana – The Sensations

Vipassana – The Sensations

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Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Experience here

Mind is the most mischievous of them all. When one is trying to concentrate on a particular thing, it will get distracted and run away to every nook and corner of the world rather than focusing on the task at hand. I wasn’t able to focus on breathing for more than ten seconds in a go. I decided to discuss it with the instructor.

He told, “Its completely normal. People don’t get sensations at all; at least you are getting them for ten seconds. More importantly this technique isn’t about anticipating, just be aware about the present…what you can feel. Everything will come at it’s own pace.”

Day 3:

The focus on third day shifted to sensations on the moustache area – the rectangular area just above the upper lip and below the nostrils.

Sensation was defined as anything you felt like, an itch, perspiration, coolness, dryness, touch of air from breathing, heat and any physical impression you can feel. You were not supposed to create any liking or disliking for any of them. One had to become mindful and aware of them and let it pass.

By third day I realized that there wasn’t any particular need to over stuff oneself with food as the breakfasts and lunches were decent veg food, which was sufficiently nutritious to survive. On the previous two days because of over-eating I was feeling too sleepy and was barely managing through the meditation sessions.

I would slightly open an eye, watch everyone…many of them with an annoyed expression while some of them into deep meditation, keep checking the wall clock and wait for the sessions to get over.

Who would have thought that meditation can also cause sore legs, numb hips, strained back and pain at unmentionable places.

Main Meditation Hall at Pune Vipassana Center

Day 4:

We learnt about the technique of Vipassana. Earlier we were only focusing on breathing and sensations in the upper lip area but in Vipassana one is supposed to traverse the whole body. You are supposed to be mindful of the sensations on your head, face, ear, neck, shoulders, chest, back and so on.

Focus on one part of the body and try to feel the sensation there. Trying concentrating till the time you actually observe something but the trick is not to anticipate. If it happens then great otherwise witness it for a minute and then move on to next part of the body till each and every body part is covered. Come back to the part which was left and you didn’t feel any sensation.

Pain and numbness are also sensations and that was all I could observe. No matter how much Mr. Goenka voice told not to develop any aversions for any sensation; the human instinct would still take over. You would slightly move your cushion, sometimes remove the pillow, change the legs while sitting cross-legged, do everything but the pain would find its way and so would the aversion.

With each passing day more and more cushions were becoming blue and vacant. It was good enough to increase your self-doubt and derail your motivation.

Day 5:

On this day you would scan from the top of your head – the tip of your scalp and traverse through whole body, part by part but in a systematic order till you reach the tip of toe. Try to concentrate and become aware about sensations in this order, wait at the part of body where you aren’t feeling anything and then proceed. Remember not to create any aversion or craving for any sensation.

Then comes the session at 2:30 pm. The session of self-actualization as to what extent you could push yourself. I was just sitting but never knew that sitting alone can cause so much discomfort.

In this session you learn the art of ‘Adhisthana or Additthana’ – ‘Strong Self-Determination’. This means you aren’t supposed to move even slightly or shift your position or open your eyes. You need to continuously sit in a posture for long durations of 60-90 minutes.

It was really excruciating. I was sweating profusely with no sense of any part of my body at the end of it. It took me literally two minutes to unfold my legs and properly stand up.

Now I understood why most people ran away on the sixth day.

By the end of fifth day during the QA session I saw my roommate waiting for his turn to come. I feared the worse. I knew I wasn’t supposed to interact with him in any form but his mere presence was kind of encouraging for both of us to keep going till the end.

Day 6:

My roommate didn’t come for the early morning session. I knew something was amiss. I contacted a dhamma sevak, he told my roommate couldn’t take it anymore especially after yesterday’s Adhitthana session and he too ran away.

For a moment I was heartbroken. He made it till the sixth day and still went away. But then I read on the notice board – no aversion and no craving.

I headed for the next session.

For all those who can concentrate,

For all those who have aversions,

For all those who have cravings,

And

For all those who can control their mind…

It’s not a Goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Read the next post for day 6-10 – Vipassana – A Meditative Transformation here.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

4

Vipassana – My Experience

Vipassana – My Experience

Read the previous part – Vipassana – My Inhibitions here

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I was still lost in my thoughts when a volunteer approached me and informed me to take a bed sheet, pillow and blanket from the shelf and head towards my room. (I was given a room number at the time of registration). He also informed about a small session that would take place, right after tea is served at 5:30 pm, in the meditation hall.

I noticed that the whole center was divided into two sections by a fence consisting of plants. To my disappointment there was completely different area for male and female including the dining area. The main meditation was the only place where both of them were allowed together. My dreams of somehow surviving these days by bird-watching (girl-watching) too were shattered and I wasn’t even allowed to scream…or cry…or run away.

Fence separating the two sections

I reached my room; it was pretty basic but neat and clean, and placed my luggage under the bed or the shelf that I was supposed to sleep on. It was a huge stone sheet with an old battered hard thin mattress on top of it. I was already exhausted from the travel and the constant battering of my mind. It was a depressing feeling and felt prison like. It was 3:00 pm and I made my bed and decided to take a nap.

From a small nap it got transformed into a deep slumber and I got up at 5:45 pm in a rush. To my surprise there was another guy sleeping on the other side of the room on another stone sheet. I was immediately pissed off at them for giving me a roommate for ten days and I am not even allowed to ask his name.

I shook him and signalled him the time. We hurriedly reached the mess where we were the last two guys to reach. Everybody had had his tea and left. To my happy surprise there was some husked rice (poha) along with tea. I knew there wasn’t going to be any dinner and hence I decided to hog on it.

At 6 pm the session began and it was in a presentation format. The discourse was to be in delivered in audio and video format. These were recordings of Late Mr. S. N. Goenka – the man responsible for bringing Vipassana back to India. The main thing that was highlighted was the five main precepts to observe and the timetable for the coming ten days.

My room in Pune Vipassana center

The Five precepts:

1. To abstain from killing any being,
2. To abstain from stealing,
3. To abstain from all sexual activity,
4. To abstain from telling lies,
5. To abstain from all intoxicants.

The very strict and difficult timetable – the school timetable felt nothing in comparison to this:

4:00 am            Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am    Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am    Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am    Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am   Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12 noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm    Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm    Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm    Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm    Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm    Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm    Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm    Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm    Question time in the hall
9:30 pm            Retire to your own room–Lights out

That’s nearly 11 hours of meditation alone and people think that it’s a vacation or retreat. No it is not.

The ‘Noble Silence’ was to be observed from here on. It means the silence of body, speech and mind.

After the session I walked about in the open green space and then retired for the day. Walking was the only exercise that was permitted. I kept shifting and turning in that harsh bed and sleep decided not to pay me a visit that night and before I realized a huge gong like bell rang.

Day 1:

It was already 4:00 am and the time to get up and ready for the 4:30 am meditation session in the hall. I convinced my mind that it’s a new morning and I am here to learn something. All excited I reached the main meditation hall. The hall was filled with blue colored cushions properly spaced out, accompanied by a pillow with registration numbers on it. I found mine and adjusted my cushion and sat down.

There were about 120 students (I counted the cushions), two male instructors and one female. It was evident by looking at others that they barely managed it to the hall still half asleep and constantly yawning. There were three dhamma sevaks also – a dhamma sevak is a volunteer who helps the instructors and the students in case if anything of importance arises.

The course began. We were supposed to close our eyes throughout the process. The voice of Mr. Goenka soothed through the speakers. He told that the first three days would be all about ‘Anapanasati’ – ‘mindfulness of breathing’.

It was just about focusing on your breathing.

I was ecstatic to see the evening tea accompanied by a banana and some puffed rice. This was only made available for the first timers. I went in with the expectation that I would get none but here I was getting some.

The 7:00 pm discourse was a video played out on a projector. We saw Mr. Goenka for the first time. These were all recorded from his previous sessions before his demise in 2013. I was too tired and spent to focus on anything anymore. The only thing that caught my attention was, he mentioned, “Maximum people run away on the 2nd and 6th day.”

For some reason it made me more determined. I knew about the bets that would be already making rounds outside placed by my sister and cousins. I made a mental note of it to survive these two major days.

Day 2:

Same routine. Gong at 4 am…lethargic walk to the meditation hall and then the session begins.

The main focus on this day was on exhaling and inhaling. If someone doesn’t feel it, they can take a couple of deep breathes and then back to regular breathing. Just be mindful of the breath going in and out.

Everyday I would come up with stupid questions in my mind to put across to teachers and at least speak a word in the whole day but ironically all of them were answered at the end of the day during the discourse leaving me smiling and more importantly quiet.

At the end of second day the guys in my neighboring room went absconding – they simply ran away.

Day 3:

I ran away…

Naaahhhh…

For all those who are early risers,

For all those who love meditation,

For all those who can observe breathing,

and

For all those who knew I won’t run away…

It’s not a Goodbye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE.

Read the next one for Day 3-10 – Vipassana – The Sensations here.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker