The same day that I noticed significant weight loss, and a flat stomach, was the same day that I stopped caring about stuff like that.  It was the day that my understanding of what the physical body means was completely overturned.

By the morning of the 5th day, I’d already done about 45 hours of meditation, 3 of which had been “hours of determination” and my connection to my body had significantly deepened.  Remember that patch beneath my nose that I couldn’t feel for the life of me…well I didn’t even need to think about my breath anymore.  The sensation I felt there, moment to moment, was this warm, ceaseless effervescence.   It didn’t stop.  And at times, when I was in a comfortable position…such as The Phoenix, I could feel that same distinctive sensation in other parts of my body too.  When it happened a connection was formed between the two patches of skin, and it would have this kind of ripple effect through neighbouring body parts.  Without being able to talk to anyone I wasn’t sure whether this was meant to be happening or not…all I knew was that I was to keep scanning my attention in the same methodical, repetitive way…hmmm isn’t that interesting…the tip of my left index finger is dissolving, knuckle of  left index finger, dissolving too, and left palm…hmmm, isn’t that interesting.  Left wrist…pause a moment…don’t feel anything….pause a little longer…hmm..isn’t that interesting….pause.  If you were stuck in one place for a long time you were meant to observe it as it was, wait a little longer…a minute or two, and if still there wasn’t a sensation you move on.  There were blind-spots dispersed around the body.  Parts of you that you are, in that moment, unable to experience.  If you began to crave for that experience, that effervescence, then you were effectively distancing yourself further from complete self-awareness.

Craving – trying to hold on to, grasping, clinging, longing for or wanting whatever you are not experiencing, or do not have, so much that your mind becomes unbalanced.

It makes sense, that with attachment we experience unhappiness.  How simple.  Those positive sensations we feel like the effervescence in meditation, or the great surge of pleasure when we take that first bite of a rich and creamy chocolate cake is wonderful, in that moment, but like any other moment, it will rise and fall, it will appear and disappear.  If we become attached, we start to crave for it, which takes us out of our present moment and that pleasure becomes pain and misery.

Aversion – negativity, hatred, anger, fear.  Trying to get away from or to push out of your mind whatever reality you are actually facing.

I read these definitions that had been put up on the board alongside our daily schedule, with great focus and concentration.  Whilst I already understood the meanings of these words intellectually, it was a very different thing indeed to start to make sense of them  on an experiential level.  I was beginning to appreciate the significance of Vipassana training, what it was that we were trying to achieve.  In learning to experience and understand sensations and feelings in our bodies, without craving or aversion we were training ourselves on how to live in the present, how to live life moment to moment, and effectively eliminate unnecessary misery…Creating all this space for a simple and pure happiness.

But, that was only one side of it.  In the first minute of  the second hour of Adhitthana (strong determination) on that fifth day I took one final glance around me and felt envious of the three young boys in the back row…how much closer they must be to enlightenment.  In order to reach this state of purity, we must first re-experience the backlog and root causes of all the cravings and aversions we ever felt.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and started with the patch of skin on the crown of my head…already the volatile nature of that right hip of mine, packed so tightly with all that anger, all that pain starting to seethe and stir.