Tired Of The Sound Of Your Own Voice? I Have The Solution… (Pt2)

Ommmm. Oh wait, I'm not allowed to say Om in Vipassana. Damn.

So there I am, asleep in my tiny bed in the dorm room, my dreams bouncing around through space, colliding with the 7 other unfortunate souls I was sharing the room with. I was probably dreaming optimistically about doing these ones (pic to the left) when all of a sudden…


“Hmmm, that must be the bell, I think I’ll go back to sleep… ZZzzzzzz.”


“That was a lot louder this time. I guess it’s 4am, great.”


… & on it went, this dude walks around the whole centre colliding a rubber mallet with a large, resonant, hunk of steel also known as a bell every morning at 0400, then does another round at 0415. *DING* I decided to wait till I heard my fellow companions arising from their slumber. By about 0445 most of them were up so I decided not to be the last one & got up. In the days to come, some of us would sometimes sleep through the morning meditation & arise just in time for breakfast. Mr Bell Man (As he shall sometimes be known in this blog) eventually cottoned on to this & would actually come into our room with a torch & remind us that it was time for morning meditation. “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have slept through the morning bell.” I would mumble fallaciously. (Those with limited vocabularys & dirty minds, here is the definition of falacious.)

Allow me to deviate for a moment for those who have not read my first instalment, it’s probably a good place to start if you are interested in Vipassana. If you want to take it from the horses mouth, here is the low-down of the meditation course in question on their site.

To return to the time-line… One time, towards the last day when some (most) of us were thoroughly over the whole thing, Mr Bell Man actually entered the room armed with some sort of miniature bell which he vigorously shook with a machine-gun like pace. He then flashed the lights on & off a few times. I was almost tempted to stay in my bed to see if he would come in with a bell which you would logically suspect to be larger, Carillon like & possibly shoulder mounted to make short work of the last of the stragglers. It was humorous thoughts like these that became my companion as I slugged my way through 10 days of Vipassana meditation. Oh yes, alone with my thoughts I made up names for quite a few of my fellow meditators to keep myself entertained. The Asian who always wore Crocs became “Crocs”. This one dude who looked like the old guy from The A-Team was known simply as “A-Team”. Then I was sometimes a bit more creative, the guy in my dorm who snored the loudest, (to the annoyance & occasional amusement of my dorm-mates) was known as “DJ SnoreSak”.

Then there was the guy in my dorm who I did not make up a name for, because I already knew his name was James. He decided to ignore the noble silence & would always make some kind of gesture when you passed him.  I thought this may have been a gesture reserved for me alone as I arrived at Blackheath train station with him & we chatted on the walk to the centre. I later found out that he was doing this to anyone who made the mistake of glancing at him. It was quite awkward, he knew you weren’t supposed to say anything, I could have said something, but I was doing the course & I had decided to abide by the rules wherever possible so as to give the technique a fair go so it’s not like I could say “Dude, stop fucking staring at me.” Because that’s exactly what he would do, even if you consciously averted your gaze, you knew the prick was just waiting for you to slip up & glance over, & he would be waiting to give you a well timed nod hello. It was like he attended the course just to flout the rules! I took to death-staring him, but he would just smile with a blissful air of bovine ignorance. Eventually I submitted to his friendly will & occasionally offered a brief, begrudged nod to sate his need for human contact. When the course was over, he ended up being one of the guys I had beers with on the morning of our release. During our discussions, I was made aware that he consciously decided to speak (& kill bugs, as he confessed) because he believed that if he didn’t that there was no way he would have made it through the 10 days.

Now is probably a good time to tell that during the entire course, James managed to get me to speak a total of 3 words on 2 seperate occasions.

The 1st was after the 2nd & 3rd members of our dorm chucked in the towel. This was on the 3rd day, we had already lost 1 the day before & now 2 more were leaving. The 2 pikers were discussing how they “couldn’t take it anymore” & were going to see what time the next train left. I felt their pain as by the 3rd day I was mentally & physically exhausted (I know it’s just sitting there but you get some wicked tension in your shoulders among other places… At-least I did) but my determination was actually renewed when they left because it made me realise that I wasn’t the only one having a c**t of a time. Anyhow, James took it upon himself to give me a little pep talk to me after they left (he explained at the end of the course that I looked like I was struggling… I was) something along the lines of “We came here to do something & we’re not gonna give up until it’s finished” to which I replied “Mmmm” accompanied with what I would call a firm nod.

The 2nd was after he had thrown a scrunched up paper towel over the shower door whilst I was showering. I wasn’t sure it was him that did it, in-fact I wasn’t sure it was thrown at all because it had missed me & when I spotted it on the floor, I thought maybe it was just always there. Anyways, it wouldn’t have bothered me either way, but I guess some intense pang of guilt had seized James an hour or so later because he confronted me with an apology “I hope you’re not offended by me throwing the paper towel” to which I replied “Na Man” with a head shake. I guess I didn’t do too bad but on both occasions my speech was an involuntary reaction which I put down to years of social conditioning ie. Replying when spoken to.

The evening discourse. Always a feeling of relief & what some may consider propaganda.

Getting back to the story… I arrived at the meditation hall on the 1st morning at about 0430… There was a surreal vibe to it. The hall was very dark & silent except for the sound of the sound of my fellow mediators fidgeting, breathing, sneezing, coughing, etc. The picture above is the only image I could find of the inside of the hall. I took the photo on my iPhone on the evening of the last day during the final discourse when I managed to get my phone back (I’ll probably talk about that more later.) The picture above shows the hall much brighter than early morning as it is in the evening.

If you look closely at the image above, you can see to the right of it a carpet running towards the front of the room where the screen is. The segregation of male & female is ever present with the girls on the right & the boys on the left. We even enter through different doors on opposite sides. All instruction regarding the practise is given by the portly fellow you see projected on the wall above: S. N. Goenka A thick Indian accent & an adept sense of humour accompany his sometimes poorly filmed, informative & sometime long-winded discourses each evening. Instructions are also given in the form of audio recordings at the beginning of each session to refresh your focus & at the end of each session a recording is played to let you know it’s time to take a break.

The funny thing about the discourses is that they are so poorly filmed to an often comical degree, don’t get me wrong, they get the point across, you don’t need Scorsese to direct a simple instructional video of a dude sitting & talking, but I feel they could have used just a little bit of polish. Goenka would regularly pick his nose (lol, but not the Cameraman’s fault) the camera from time to time would zoom in really fast & then be off centre, then it would be roughly re-centred. These adjustments would all happen at seemingly random & unpredictable times.  Without warning the camera would suddenly zoom out again to reveal Goenka’s old lady sitting beside him. The point I’m trying to get across is that the poor filming actually made the discourses more entertaining, I would kinda be hanging out for a sudden zoom in/out or angle adjustment just to see how exceptionally haphazard it could get. Yes, I was a bit bored.

Sitting at the front of the room, one on each side corresponding to the sex were the assistant teachers. Scary beings who i believe posses magical powers. They would rarely speak other than to say “take a five minute break if you like & then return to the hall to continue”. The female one was of no significance to me so I won’t bother talking about her. The male one I gave the name The Sitting Man as sitting seemed to be his main occupation. My fellow students found this most amusing when I told them after the 10 days.

I’ll leave you with one more mildly amusing occurrence before I wrap things up for this post. This time it takes place in the lunch room. Lunch was always an exciting time for me because I didn’t know what I would be served, it was different everyday. Of course, when I say exciting, I’m speaking in terms relative to meditation. Most days (not everyday) we would get dessert. On one such day, one of the food servers must have carelessly put the custard for the dessert on the salad table. This went noticed only by a select few people. The result was 95% of us (I was one of the fools) spooning custard on our salads thinking it was some kind of exotic dressing. Although I will add that it didn’t taste too bad, it must have been amusing for those who made the connection because they couldn’t enlighten anyone of the situation due to the imposed noble silence. A thought occurs: This was in the guys kitchen… Like the whole centre, the kitchens are segregated into male & female sides. In this case a building with the staff only kitchen dividing the two food halls. I could not see what was going on in the female food hall but if us guys, who are infinitely more intelligent & capable than women, are spooning custard on our salads, I hate to think of the absolute chaos that must have been breaking out on the female side. You poor, poor creatures.

Until next time, I’ve been Stanmore Phoenix & you’ve been reading my blog.

A girl meditating in an entirely inferior fashion to how a man would

As always, I invite you to drop me a comment because I am terribly lonely… I wonder if any women will be foolish enough to take my mock-misogynistic comments above seriously, I hope they/you do, I might get a flame war going on my blog comments, that would be cool. Espesh because I am the mod… But seriously, everyone knows I love the ladies. Respect girls.

Pt3 is ready to go & will be bumping your way in the next few days, why not subscribe & you will have the luxury of an email notification :) If you like this blog, share it with your friends, I appreciate your support.

7 Responses to “Tired Of The Sound Of Your Own Voice? I Have The Solution… (Pt2)”

  1. gee mr ladies man…sounds like u need a girlfriend to take away that terrible lonliness!!

    if you’re interested, I may know someone… ;)

  2. Compelling, if not slightly long winded, SP. Looking forward to the next installment(s)… =)

    Interesting how you say you are lonely “in a universal sense”…how so??

    And as for women taking offence, we are far too smart and superior in intelligence to not realise custard is custard, no matter where it is placed on a dinner table, therefore on behalf of women everywhere, no offence taken and lol at male stupidity!!

    • It’s funny you should say that. It was twice as long before I cut it in half o_O the 2nd half is going to drop soon.

      I try to write short, I really do… After these meditation blogs are done, I’ll try to do some < 200 words :p I think I just have a lot to say about the meditation.

      RE: loneliness – well it's simple really, no matter how close you get to someone, you're still stuck in your own mind, in your own soul. Even physical contact leaves space between on a microscopic level.

  3. […] Tune in next time for the continutation – Tired Of The Sound Of Your Own Voice? I Have The Solution… (Pt2) […]

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