Sometimes on meditation retreats I have no choice but to amuse my mind with my own hilarious inventions. Of course, most of my ideas lend themselves much less to the label “hilarious” when I get home, so I encourage you to read this tongue-in-cheek Vipassana glossary just as you come back from a retreat and it is fresh in your mind! And, for a fun mindfulness break, add your own terms to this list (retreat related or not).
The Vipassana walk:
This refers to one of two things:
- The odd limp that comes from some, or all, of your body parts being permanently asleep and in pain from sitting on the cushion day in and day out…
- Or the collective slow, deliberate yogi walk that is especially exacerbated during periods of walking meditation when people have been let loose on the grounds outside.
100 people walk the grounds – forced, unnatural steps. Some limping, some stumbling. Directionless, like broken, wind-up robots.
Be careful not to watch “The Walking Dead” before retreat; your meditation anchor will inevitably become “…braaaaains.”
An oldie but a goodie. This is when, due to the absence of actually talking to fellow yogis, you make up personas of those around you, allowing a deep and beautiful imaginary relationship to blossom and flourish. From that simple smile from someone in the lunch line, you quickly experience the entire imaginary relationship, starting with elbows bumping accidentally in the cloakroom and ending with a yard full of imaginary calm, mindful, and oh-so-adorable children.
Another well known one, it reminds me of the time in my 20s when I was told about a girl in my high school who hated me. I still have zero recollection of this girl, but my friend insisted: “You must remember her! You were her nemesis. You sat in front of her in math for a year and kept beating her by a few points on every quiz.” That I still don’t know of this girl’s existence makes me feel even worse! Here she was putting all this energy into building up a proper nemesis, who in return didn’t even know who she was. The vipassana vendetta is like this. Someone doesn’t smile at you in line causing you to turn them into an imaginary super-villain who makes you cringe whenever you see them. Meanwhile, they’re busy wondering if they’re serving that awesome lentil soup for lunch again.
Vipassana “text” addiction:
Clean, white messenger.
Notice board, like an iPhone.
Its rare, precious offerings.
For me? Nope. Next time.
If you’re someone whose heart jumps a bit when you get a text or e-mail, then you’ve probably also experienced the anticipation of seeing that little white rectangular note, your name scrawled across the outside, pinned onto the retreat notice board. What promising adventures may lay inside that 5”x3” scrap paper! This could be the beginning of the rest of your life!! On the flip-side, there’s also the sinking heart when you see a forest of names, but nowhere your own.
Not to be confused with ticks – something to watch for in the woods of Barre – the Vipasanna tick can be so many different things to so many different people. For me, it’s the subconscious shifting of my hand towards my pocket to reach for my phone and thus my e-mail, before realizing my pockets are empty…still. And yes, it is indeed a great practice opportunity to see myself do this over and over again, day after day. What are your vipassana ticks?