Vipassana Meditation Course: Part 4

Day 4: Unsinkable

We are asked to remain completely silent for days one through nine of this course. The most difficult part of maintaining silence is not the lack of conversation. I don’t miss chatting with people. I don’t care to know what they’re thinking of the course. What I miss is the little directional phrases that help us through our daily interactions. I miss being able to say ‘Excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Hey Roomie, I’m going to take a shower. Do you need anything in the bathroom?’

After about three days you do get into a sort of rhythm with the other girls. You figure out your shower schedule. You learn when the best time to go to meals is. But sometimes situations arise.

On day four I realize I haven’t had a bowel movement in a while. This is not something I normally track, but when you have absolutely nothing to distract you different thoughts bubble to the surface. This is one of them. So I spring into action. I add some flax to my breakfast porridge and drink an extra cup of coffee.

It does the trick. By noon I need to poop.

Something goes wrong, though. I don’t know if my poop is just not dense enough or if the plumbing in this hotel is just shoddy or if it is a combination of the two. The poop will not flush.

I flush. And flush. And flush again.

Finally, I give up. There is nothing else I can do, and it’s time for group meditation. I want so badly to apologize to my roommate. I want to let her know that I am aware that there is a turd in the toilet. I didn’t leave it there purposefully. I’m not trying to spite her.

But I can’t say anything. So I leave it.

When I return to the scene of the crime, the poop is gone. Somehow my roommate has flushed it. I have no idea how she managed it.

I pray that I will not have another bowel movement for eight days.


Day 5: Princess

I have developed nicknames for most of the girls in the meditation course. The girl who sits just behind me and to the right is dubbed Anime. She looks like an anime character to me. The small, adorable, blonde girl who I saw with a cat yesterday? Mouse. My roommate, who is very tall, is referred to as The Giantess, and her petite companion is Little Friend. There is Russia and Crazy and Honey and Red and Stony and Leggings. The girl to my right is Fruit Loops because I think she smells faintly of the fruity cereal. To my left is Petra because I met her on the first day so I actually know her name. The girl who is causing me grief today, though, is Princess.

Princess likes to walk very slowly and deliberately, as if she is meditating on every step.

I hate her.

I especially hate her today because I am stuck behind her on the way to tea time. Other girls are rushing around us down the stairs as I do everything I can to keep from pushing her. I am hangry, and if I am late to tea time the only fruit left will be apples. Nobody like apples.

I want to scream. Doesn’t she know that they only feed us twice a day? Doesn’t she get enough meditation during the 11 hours of scheduled meditation time? Can’t she just walk like a normal person?!

But, of course, I can’t scream. I can’t talk.

I just walk slowly behind her, and in the end I don’t get stuck with an apple (although I did miss the nectarines).

I may not believe it now, but by day ten I won’t even be eating fruit at tea time. As it turns out, I don’t get that hungry. I guess meditation doesn’t burn a lot of calories. Suddenly, hunger-striking monks aren’t as impressive. I know their secret.


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