It always intrigues me looking through my WordPress stats to see what search terms are bringing traffic to my blog.

Top three this week:

1) “Donations to Karen State, Burma” – Burma Issues, the charity I worked with all those years ago are currently raising money for a project to support the education of 20 IDP (Internally Displaced People) children.  So if, whoever you are, revisit –  there’s an option for you.

2) “What time of night do fireflies leave?” – I don’t know what it is about the word firefly, but it just brightens everything up.  I remember seeing one on the meditation retreat, flitting about behind the netting, and I was sitting in this silent, slightly mental-institution-looking line, so excited by it, looking up and wanting so desperately to share it with someone…but then I remembered, and lowered my head once again, smiled to myself and watched him dance.

3) “laura hancock naked” – ??  Sorry to disappoint!

Anyway, I digress.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Back to Vipassana I think.

So what does one do, when they’ve surrendered to the bells and let go of time?

Sleep, apparently.

I am not a heavy sleeper.  I’m not even a light-sleeper.  I’m kind of a non-sleeper.  Awake at all hours, fretting, deliberating, writing, story-telling, planning, regretting, wishing, reliving….trying to forget.  So, on the second day, when I’d given up counting out every minute of meditation, in an attempt to keep some vague track of time, I  stopped fighting.

Day one had given me a benchmark of exactly how long I’d be sitting cross-legged on this cushion, and that cushion, and this cushion wedged underneath my knees, and that one tucked in on top of my ankle…I was getting progressively taller with each hour that passed.

Breathing in, breathing out.  The sensation of the passage of air through each nostril.

Sometimes my left nostril was clear and my right one felt like it had a stopper in it.  Sometimes it was the other way round.  Every now and again, both nostrils would be open and I could feel the air channeling up, cool and invigorating, flowing out, warm and slightly moist.  The patch of skin beneath – sensitive sometimes, and then blank.  There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason, and I wasn’t looking for an answer, I just breathed in, breathed out.  Feeling the air moving.  Deepening, deepening…the blankness in my head, so heavy, so black, that I began to droop…Ah!  Back up again.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Back straight.  Breathe.

Drooping, dropping, deepening…jolt back up again!  I was like that sleepy bus passenger who keeps lolling against the window pane, only there wasn’t anything to lean against.  When we were given the rare option of meditating in our rooms, I initially thought I’d stay in the meditation hall…wasn’t convinced I had the self-discipline just yet.  But, as soon as the option arose, I pounced on it…shooting back to my room, with barely a mind to hold the door open for anyone behind me, in that meditative – I’m holding a door open for an anonymous person who somehow manages to display gratitude without any communication or acknowledgment – way.

It was all I could do to keep my eyes open as I closed the door behind me, let out a sigh of relief, and crawled towards my bed…just a couple of minutes.  Ahhhh….how wonderful it felt to lie down and feel the hard pressure of something against my back and head…just a few more……..ZONK.  Completely out.  No recollection of any dreams.  Didn’t even twitch or change position.  Like a dead man…the perfect Savasana.  All that roused me was the bellowing DOOM DOOM DOOM!  To which I would leap out of bed, with a guilty conscience, and hope that I hadn’t been snoring!  It wasn’t just the once either.  Pretty much every break, every spare moment, every “self-meditation” was a mini coma – and I thought it was brilliant.  I, who never sleeps, must have needed it – just catching up on lost time that’s all…

Justifications that didn’t stand up to Goenka’s video discourse that evening….We were warned of two things –

1) Over-eating.  Its so true!  Once you realise that you don’t get dinner, lunch-time becomes this kind of face-gorging mission.  One helping to satisfy the hunger, second helping to make up for no dinner, and then a third helping to sustain yourself through the “inner-surgery” you’re about to perform….And then there’s the crackers and biscuits you smuggle up your sleeve and devour discreetly behind the tree in the courtyard….No! Over-eating is bad for meditation.  You’re only meant to eat until you’re two-thirds, or three-quarters full.

2)  Sleeping instead of meditating!  How did he know?  I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when  he started talking about”snoring” meditation.  There was something about Goenka’s teachings that was incredibly powerful.  He somehow made it all quite fun and happy, but commanded that kind of respect, that you dare not go against anything he says…even if his teachings are coming from a DVD player.  It kind of felt like he was there…

As the discourse came to an end and we silently headed back to the hall for our last group meditation of the day and instructions for the next, I was reminded of something Matthew said.  Tiredness is avoidance.  Yet another wall to break down.  Its amazing isn’t it, the extent to which your mind will go to NOT deal with stuff…

English: Mogok SayaDawGyi's Photo Color, Arhat...

English: Mogok SayaDawGyi’s Photo Color, Arhat Sayadawgyi, Mokgok Vipassana Meditation Center, Myanmar (Burma) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)