Transcript of ""Inner Pilgrimage" FREE Book excerpt"
Day Three: Sit, Breathe, Feel 4 Day Three: Sit, Breathe, Feel The early morning routine is beginning to strengthen mysense of awareness. No sooner does the gong clang at 4:00 A.M.than I arise, shower, and set off to the dhamma hall. Last night, Goenkaji instructed us to focus our attention on thetriangular indentation located between the end of the nostrils andthe upper lip, or the philtrum, and to become aware of any kind ofsensation there. The conjecture here is that if the mind is centeredenough to feel sensations in a very small area of the body, then theindividual is ready to receive the vipassana technique. A tide ofexcitement flutters my heart as I step into the dhamma hall. I’mdying to know what vipassana is and how to practice it. I’m beginning to like the 4:30 meditation. The serenity of theoutdoors fills the room, casting an enchanting spell on themeditator. Snifflers, sneezers, and coughers are greatly reduced innumber as two-thirds of the crowd are not in attendance. The airconditioner activates only after 8:00 A.M. Interruptions beingminimal, I fall silent nearly immediately. 65
Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me Getting the mind to focus on a narrow area such as thephiltrum is no small task, as it turns out. I attempt it, but my nosekeeps getting in the way! Not that I have a large nose or anything,it’s just that it gets between the area of focus and my “sight.” Iimagine detaching my mind from my body, setting it directlyacross from me, and observing the triangular upper-lip area fromthe outside. Needless to say, this is colossally confusing.Frustrated, I start over. I take off the philtrum from my face andvisualize it in front of me. Then I try to observe it as if I’m staringinto somebody else’s face. As it turns out, this isn’t a very goodidea either. My frustration is up several notches. “How do I dothis? Nothing seems to work.” The out-of-sight success frazzlesme. I’m very close to giving up when I remember Goenkaji’swords. With a deep breath, I calmly and patiently recalibrate the lensof my mind’s “eye,” aiming it directly at the indentation in myupper lip, ignoring the silhouette of my nose and disregarding myphysical discomfort. I do this over and over. As the seconds turninto minutes, I get comfortable with the idea of watching myupper lip. I don’t feel any sensations yet, but I can smell successand I know it’s within reach. As the early morning sitting comes to a close, the rumble ofthe audio rolls through the room. I quickly become absorbed inthe chanting. The Hindi couplets Goenkaji sings are profound andpoignant, and resonate the teachings of Eastern philosophies. It’snot nearly as torturous as the nights before. In fact, my bodysways back and forth as if it were enjoying the melody. I’m 66
Day Three: Sit, Breathe, Feelsurprised as earlier I disliked his singing. I still do. I mean, whowants to listen to a melodically bland song? That’s just myopinion, of course. Anyway, his singing is quite palatable now. At breakfast, for the first time today, a sense of presencewashes over me. I wait patiently in line, bereft of any ill feelingtoward those ahead of me who need extra time to fill up theirbowls. If they set their grimy plates or spoons on the counter, Ipick them up, promptly, willingly, and stick them in thedishwashing rack. I take the time to mindfully eat my oatmeal,one spoon at a time, experiencing its texture on my palate andswallowing it with a sense of gratitude. Following breakfast, as I strut back to the cottage, a scene inthe meadow stops me in my tracks, captivating my senses. In themeadow, an expanse of bright, golden dandelions beams in thewarm sunlight, a light breeze rippling the supple stalks, renderinga performance that is jubilant, soul-stirring. Butterflies, orange,brown, copper, fan their delicate wings and siphon the flowers’nectar. They flutter about, flying up and dropping down,delighting in their heavenly dance. I watch with bated breath,knitting my eyebrows, deep in thought, wondering why I haven’tnoticed this resplendence before. Back in the quarter, I reach over to the tissue box and pull outa tissue. My stuffed-up nose has been irritating me since dawn. Iblow into the tissue to relieve the obstruction. Blood comessquirting out and falls into the tissue, making a brilliant red spoton the crisp, white surface. My reaction at the sudden sight of 67