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Ommmmmmmmmmmm… !?

25 Feb

I got off the wait list for the 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course.  So tomorrow, I will drive to Canada to take part.  [AHHHHH!!!]

The meditation center is in Montebello, Quebec — halfway between Montreal and Ottawa — in a “tranquil open valley surrounded by forest.”

Picture of the meditation center where I'll be going.

Picture of the meditation center where I’m going (from their website).

I don’t know what to expect.  I’m flying blind into this one.  An inquiry to a traveler friend who has completed the course yielded a cryptic response: “Just believe in the process.”

Vipassana, which means “seeing things are they really are,” is an ancient Indian meditation technique.  It has nothing to do with any organized religion but is simply “the process of self- purification by self-observation.”  [From there, the website waxes on philosophically, causing my mind to grow fuzzy.]  The course is totally free.  Students may make anonymous donations at the end of the course, if they are able and so wish.

From what I can glean from the center’s website, there may be 100 or more students per course, but the men and women are kept strictly segregated.  For the entirety of the 10 days, students observe “noble silence” — that is, silence of body, speech, and mind.  Oh yes, and do you remember the course schedule?  Days begin at 4:00 a.m. with a wakeup bell and continue until 9:30 p.m.  There are about ten hours of meditation throughout the day.  A vegetarian meal is served twice a day.  Tea is available in the evenings.

Mentally, of course, it’s hard.  But by all accounts, sitting in the same position for hours on end is physically excruciating.  Shooting pains, stabbing pains, numbness.

If you’re like my Aunt Leslie, you may have some questions.  Like, W.T.F.?!  Or, as Aunt Leslie puts it in a text message, “What’s there to discover in silence?  Life’s too short to be quiet for 10 days.”

Well, I don’t know.  Past students say it is life-changing.  They say you get out and your head is just so clear.

vipassana1

But I do believe that life is about more than just deriving pleasure and avoiding pain.  Life is about finding a meaning in life — and fulfilling it.  I haven’t found my meaning yet, but this year — in so many ways — is about that search.  And I think this meditation course fits into there somewhere.  [Yes, albeit at the risk of getting too Eat Pray Love-y.]

But, I will say, I am freaking out.  Of course, I don’t know what to expect.  And I’m worried I may end up in an insane asylum.  But my biggest fear is failure.  I’m scared I won’t make it.  But “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” right, Wayne Gretzky?  I know I may not make it — I embrace that possibility — but life has taught me that you still gotta for it.  And so I will.

I’m hoping I can walk headfirst through fear and pain and loneliness and boredom and doubt — and emerge on the other side feeling like no other — like the entire world is splayed out before me for the taking.

If that wish comes true, you’ll be hearing from me at 6:30 a.m. on March 10 — and no sooner!

Oh, the Adventures Ahead…

15 Feb

As ya may know, I’ve been R&R-ing at home with Pops since Christmas.  I’m loving it.  And it’s practically charity, given how happy it makes my Dad.

I’ve also been doing extensive physical therapy on the good ole left ankle.  Right from the start of this whole PT business, competitive Lucie came out, and I’m there trying to out-stretch, out-balance, out-hop, out-everything all the senior citizens that go to PT on weekdays at 10:30 a.m.

My therapist, Megan, slowly caught on and amped up my routine to the point where I’m now sweating so hard that my vision is blurry, and I can’t see anyone else.  Seriously, it’s like an NFL combine workout these days.  Which means… yay!, the ankle is almost ready for…

ADVENTURE #1: HIKING THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, starting March 21!

The AT, in its entirety, is 2,186 miles long and travels through 14 states.

The AT, in its entirety, is 2,186 miles long and travels through 14 states.

Yup, I’m catching an overnight train to Georgia on March 20.  The next day, I intend to start hiking.  We’ll see how far I get, but at The Cheesecake Factory on Monday night, my family started a pool.  Cousin Ryan locked down 15 days (my Dad has the over), and Aunt Leslie bet on 46 (my Dad took the under).  Oh ye, of little faith!

There will, obviously, be a lot more to come on this front, but to boost Ryan’s spirits, I will admit that I can’t remember ever actually camping, like in a tent.  I do, however, recall many declarations that I would never go camping, including several to strangers on first dates.

So that should be interesting.

To stay busy between now and March 20, I will be undertaking…

ADVENTURE #2: A 10-DAY SILENT COURSE AT AN INDIAN MEDITATION CULT, hopefully starting February 27!

It’s called Vipassana meditation, and I first learned about it from a chick I met in Nepal.  It’s a 10-day residential course and is totally donation-based (even for food and accommodation).

I’m right at the top of the wait list for the February 27 – March 10 course somewhere in Quebec, Canada, and I have high hopes that I can slip in there.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that there is a little code of discipline while you’re there — no killing (of any being), stealing, sexual activity, lies, or intoxicants.  Okay, I’m thinking, I can do that.

Also, no speaking or any form of communication with anyone, including by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc.  Also prohibited is reading, writing, music, and any other conceivable form of entertainment (including cameras and phones).  Hmmmmmm, I’m thinking.

But what really sealed the deal was the course timetable:

Looks like we spend a lot of time in the f*cking hall.

Looks like we spend a lot of time in the f*cking hall.

So that should be interesting.

I thought the above two adventures would be plenty to keep me busy, but then I happened upon…

ADVENTURE #3: THE MEDIFAST DIET, starting soon!

A lot happened at the Monday night family dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.  My Aunt Karleen and Uncle Ricardo were in town for their annual visit.  Since their last visit, Karleen has lost 40 pounds on the Medifast diet (go Karleen!) and is now some sort of Medifast coach.  And so she’s sitting beside my dear beloved Aunt Liesel and is chattering on over the whole dinner — of bread, crab cakes, fish tacos, sweet potato fries, and cheesecake — about how Liesel really needs to go on the Medifast diet.  Finally, I’m like, geez, is this The Cheesecake Factory or The Medifast Factory?

Aunt Karleen, looking fine after Medifast!

Aunt Karleen, looking fine after Medifast!

Anyway, heavy Karleen-to-Liesel Medifast pressure continued throughout Tuesday and yesterday.  And then today, over our morning chat, Liesel tells me she placed her order and she’s going on the Medifast diet (which by the way is apparently 800-100 calories of some kinda powdered meal replacements).  Of course, you know me, I was like all pretty much supportive.

But then tonight (admittedly after stuffing myself with a giant chile relleno), I realized just how much this whole take-a-year-off-from-the-real-world business has leaked into my brain.  Because I’m thinking, you love Liesel and you know this could be an adventure like all your other adventures.  If you approached it like backpacking China or hiking the Appalachian Trail or joining some silent meditation cult — isn’t it possible you could learn something about life and the world and yourself?  At the very least, might it add a splattering of color to your life?

So I just signed up.  Like 10 minutes ago.

I haven’t told Aunt Liesel yet.  But now that I think about it, she is going to fracking choke on her Cheerios when she reads this tomorrow morning.  And then she’s going to drive over here and club me over the head for announcing to the entire fracking blogosphere that she’s going on a diet.  (That’s really bad, isn’t it?!  Sh*t.  I might be a horrible person.)

I promise that any further blog posts will be about only my own Medifast dieting.

Which should be interesting.