| Here's what I caught myself thinking about in meditation this morning.
I was wondering where I should live once this year of traveling has ended. I don't want to move back to New York just out of reflex. Maybe a new town, instead. Austin is supposed to be nice. And Chicago has all that beautiful architecture. Horrible winters, though. Or maybe I'll live abroad. I've heard good things about Sydney . . . If I lived somewhere cheaper than New York, maybe I could afford an extra bedroom and then I could have a special meditation room! That'd be nice. I could paint it gold. Or maybe a rich blue. No, gold. No, blue . . .
Finally noticing this train of thought, I was aghast. I thought: Here you are in India, in an Ashram in one of the holiest pilgrimage sites on earth. And instead of communing with the divine, you're trying to plan where you'll be meditating a year from now in a home that doesn't yet exist in a city yet to be determined. How about this, you spastic fool—how about you try to meditate right here, right now, right where you actually are?
I pulled my attention back to the silent repetition of the mantra.
A few moments later, I paused to take back that mean comment about calling myself a spastic fool. I decided maybe that wasn't very loving.
Still, I thought in the next moment, a gold meditation room would be nice. I opened my eyes and sighed. Is this really the best I can do?
So, that evening, I tried something new. I'd recently met a woman at the Ashram who'd been studying Vipassana meditation. Vipassana is an ultraorthodox, stripped-down and very intensive Buddhist meditation technique. Basically, it's just sitting. An introductory Vipassana course lasts for ten days, during which time you sit for ten hours a day in stretches of silence that last two to three hours at a time. It's the Extreme Sports version of transcendence. Your Vipassana master won't even give you a mantra; this is considered a kind of cheating. Vipas-sana meditation is the practice of pure regarding, witnessing your mind and offering your complete consideration to your thought patterns, but allowing nothing to move you from your seat.