Adding meditation to our busy lives

In 2001 I did my first 10 day Vipassana course in Delhi (Dhamma Sota) in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin as taught by S. N. Goenka. A colleague had introduced me to and Goenkaji’s rendition of “Vipassana Meditation- An introduction” was intriguing enough for me to go to a course. It was a very fulfilling course and a great introduction to the teachings of Buddha. Knowing that such teachings were even available and could be put into practice 2500 years after Buddha’s Parinibbana was very rewarding in itself, but also knowing that there was a huge community that was actually practicing this with the intention of attaining liberation was both astounding and inspirational. I had only read about Buddha’s teachings of the Noble Eightfold Path back in school and the one thing I then loved about Buddha was that he said “Believe only in yourself”. After the first course, I did a few more courses but never found the time or the need to practice regularly- I found the courses easy and I was too busy with my job and married life. I did not then understand what the power of a regular practice would add in my life. In my view I did not have too much support from friends or family in the sense that no one else was doing it with me. I also did not understand what being part of a community can do to our understanding and practice. And happiness. Hence, years went by.

When I hit ‘middle ages’ life did not seem as rosy as before and the need for such a practice emerged and seemed like a necessity. That is when I rediscovered Vipassana again in US this time along with a strong community. That was the first time I noticed the seriousness with which people were practicing what was taught in courses. There was a tradition of group sits- sitting in groups to meditate and benefit from the positive vibrations of others to enhance your practice and also short regular one day, two day courses hosted - the number of students who sat such courses regularly were even 100’s in no. When I did courses now I did not find the same courses easy. My mind had changed- exactly what is taught in Vipassana- the practice of equanimity (no reaction) to the impermanence of sensations arising in our selves- change (anicca) keeps happening.

It still took me a few years to set aside excuses like “I have to finish my PhD research”,“I have work”, “I have a job”, “Other people in my family don’t practice as much”, “Others need me right now”, and “I am not well” etc. to imbibe such habits into a serious discipline even though my intention was set in the first course itself. I still use “I am busy” or “I am not well enough” off and on but I am trying to be more prudent about it, knowing the benefits I have accumulated due to my practice whenever I have sat. Doing it even for 5 mins or 10 mins or sitting with a friend or family helps a lot. I also meditate a lot during travel. Trying to set aside 10 mins right before work begins is a great way of setting the mind's compass to the right direction- protecting and preserving our happiness. To me it has given confidence even when I have been low or unwell correcting my view about the world and that we can deal with anything and find happiness within ourselves at any time.