On January 10th, 2007 I remember sitting on my flight from London to New Delhi wondering if I was absolutely insane or one of the bravest people I knew. I had bought a one-way plane ticket to India, by myself, with no travel plans whatsoever, and no idea what would happen once I landed in New Delhi after an exhausting 24-hour flight originating in the US. I have no idea how I reached the chaotic backpacker’s district of Paharganj after wrangling a taxi from the airport, nor can I remember how I decided which hotel would be the safest place to stay amidst a seemingly terrifying unknown atmosphere, all through the eyes of a solo woman 24-year-old traveller. Needless to say, here I was. I had reach my destination and there was no turning back.
Quickly I began to learn the ropes of solo-travel in India. Pretend you know where you’re going, meet friends along the way, ask for help when you need it, use common sense, trust your instinct and pray that everything will turn out ok. Finally, I reached the peaceful town and pilgrimage site of Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha obtained enlightenment after sitting for days underneath what is known today as the Bodhi Tree.
A friend had recommended that I do a silent meditation course called Vipassana. 10 days, no talking, no reading, no listening to music, no writing… I can handle that, I thought. I went to the required interview with the head monk and told him my intention for doing the course (Although I had never meditated before, I wanted to “find inner peace” or “disconnect from the outside world” or “find myself” or whatever one thinks is the higher calling in life at the age of 24 while wandering aimlessly through India). He agreed and told me to start tomorrow.
I was assigned a Korean girl named Eun as my room-mate. She seemed sweet and quiet with a peaceful presence. We were all roused from bed at the magical hour of 5:30am for morning meditation, where we sat for an hour before being dismissed to breakfast. The rest of the day consisted in, walking meditation, sitting meditation, walking meditation, sitting meditation, lunch, then walking meditation, sitting meditation, walking meditation, sitting meditation, tea time and so on. Every action, movement and thought was to be slow, deliberate and most of all, MINDFUL. What a difficult task!
The first few days of the course, I could not believe how slowly the minutes dragged by, the clock barely moving, my mind in a million different places at once and my entire body aching from sitting still for such long periods. However, as we kept practising, things got easier. My mind became more calm, and my thoughts dissipated into moments of tranquillity and peace. Occasionally I would daydream about my future goals, the family that I would love to have someday, about happy moments in my childhood. Sometimes I felt frustrated and thought that my time here was worthless. Other times, I was intrigued at the way I was really able to become mindful of every step I took, every drink and every mouthful of food I chewed. Everyone told me that the first few days were the worst, and then the rest went by in the blink of an eye. On the last day of the course, it was my birthday. I was overjoyed that I had completed a 10-day Vipassana Course. I was turning 25, I had already lived for a quarter-century. I was ready to continue my adventure and embark on my upcoming trip to trek in the Himalayas.
My first introduction to meditation was that 10-day Vipassana sitting, a crash-course into what some may consider one of the more extreme types of meditation. It was an eye-opener and a beautiful way to discover the benefits of meditation. It’s a practice that you can start any time anywhere at any point in your life.
Experience Meditation & Yoga in India with Bamba Experience: