• 07 Oct 2011 /  AUTOBLOGRAPHY 7 Comments

    That was what it said on the back of one of the meditators (see previous post): Hey Ho – Let’s Go. I thought it suggested a rather positive mindset to take into the adventure of ‘moving forward’ – which  is I hope the next item on this comic’s life agenda. This life’s comic agenda. Not a lot different to what the eternally-wise Marilyn Koch (hairdresser Joh Bailey’s business partner) used to say to her customers: ‘Darlink! You look down you stay down!’ Indeed. In a nutshell.

    Up at the Vipassana meditation centre you aren’t allowed to look anyone in the eye or (heaven forbid) speak to someone. But you can’t avoid staring at their back if they just happen to be sitting in front of you for up to twelve hours a day for ten days. Yes some of the fellas are cute, but that thought never crosses your mind – devoted as one is to higher matters. To be honest, I cut my stay short – I left after day eight. To anyone who has ventured into the Vipassana thing, you would know this is not done – bailing early. But it was so f8cking cold up there, cold and wet and windy – and whatever else going on in my mind/body was all so much more difficult with my multiple lifetime of body dings crying out as if a dog was biting into my lower back and hips hour after hour. Current weather in Blackheath (I just Googled) at 6.30am, Saturday 7 October is: 6C and 99% humidity. So imagine how cold it was in those hours before daybreak. Mmm and so cosy here in my Surry Hills pad. Yep, I got the timing wrong.  I had especially waited for the winter be over. But it wasn’t, oh well.

    The short of it is that the eight days was pretty fantastic and I have emerged lighter and more calmer/karma. I do wish to thank Epistomysics for his short departure message – wishing me ‘Om Voyage’. And so it was. While the last time I ‘sat’ it was mainly ‘emotional stuff that presented itself in the encounter of stillness, not surprisingly this time (given the technique takes you almost inevitably to your biggest burdens first), the focused mind took me straight to my unreleased assault legacies. And while I got a lot of psychic release from the 8-days, it manifested itself in a fairly whopping escalation of pain in those sites. Such is the process, and this time much of it at night. So after being told to go to our rooms and ‘rest’ at the end of each day (that’s at 9pm – you get up at 4am), I would go to my little monk’s hidey hole and there, through the darkness, the games would really begin. Waking up three or four times with my remaining unfixed injured bits on fire. Which is what I went up to Blackheath to address. And why the cold weather made the experience just that much more difficult.

    Hot showers and cover myself in more Deep Heat then back to sleep – then awake again a hour later. Then four am the bell would gong – time to get up.

    Blackheath weather!

    The other interesting feature if this trip was that my big days came up very early. For a newcomer day six is by reputation the most difficult. And while there is no common pattern, it makes sense to think that the days you are most likely to get big encounters (and with them big releases) come in the second half of the course, for me this happened pretty much as I walked through the gates. Maybe because I have been trying to get up to do this meditation thing for over a year now, and so there was a lot anticipation. Still I did not expect to get tsunamied on the first night as I lay on my bunk. Or for that encounter to repeat itself several times over the first few days. Okay, so I blew my load early. By day six, I really did not feel the need to go any further – not for now. Enough was enough. I stayed on a couple more days, which only confirmed my view. Given the state of the weather and its extra-curricular impact on my bones, I thought I could/should go.

    The teachers were very much against this: the one promise you make at the beginning is to sit the ten days. Because it really is a carefully crafted process and they like to land you in a green paddock which only emerges in your mind on the last day. But ultimately it was my call – and so here I am now with a couple of days to spare before my short-term full-time job starts – next Monday. Yes the money has come through for the TV doco I mentioned in my last post. More on that another time, no doubt.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been home about 18 hours and I am happy with my decision: I feel good. I feel quiet, calm and strong. With a couple of spare days now up my sleeve to get a few things done. Item one – on this site: Namatjira in Canberra. So let me go to a new post with that. I will get stuck into it today and, I hope, get that finished and up tomorrow. Time to give it the attention it deserves. Then Sunday night I go see The Summer of the 17th Doll at Belvoir. No newspapers or mobiles or  iPads up at the meditation centre, so I have no idea what the reaction has been thus far. I will try and keep it that way. Not often one get’s to see a highly anticipated work a week-and-a-half into the run (settled in) and yet free from word-of-mouth. Rather ideal.

    Hey ho Lets go     ….

    PS: apparently it’s a Ramones song   ….

    Posted by James Waites @ 6:10 am


7 Responses

  • Augusta Supple Says:

    Oh James!
    Welcome home/back! I’ve missed you! don’t worry – I won’t word of mouth you … JUST SO HAPPY YOU’RE BACK!!!

    (I shouldn’t shout at someone who has been wrapped in silence should I? sorry.)

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  • Meme Says:

    Hey James, you’ve had to endure a fair slab (slap) of pain … so congratulations on making it to day 8. It’s always important to trust your body if you’re listening to it carefully – beyond what could be excuses! Try the 10 days again in the summer. I’m due for another one myself. You’ve inspired me. Thanks, Meme x

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  • James Waites Says:

    Thanks Meme, my heart sank when the weather turned on the first night – and no heater in my room. I shivered and shook all night. I got one after that, but I had done a damage. Not all fear…and I feel good so many days later.

  • James Waites Says:

    I am equanimous now – shouting is FINE!

  • bec Says:

    I can assure you “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” will warm your frozen bones, and without giving anything away, I daresay your earlier comment about “beards in cardigans” mucking about with texts will be vindicated here by the beautiful respect that is shown for the writing.

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  • West Says:

    James! Thrilled to hear about th Tv show. Onward and upward! Xx

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  • Felicity Says:

    Hey James – Felicity here from the Blue Mountains train ride – remember pre Vipassana ?! I now know why I didn’t see you at the end! For some odd reason I decided to randomly google your first name, arts journalist, and Summer of the 17th Doll today and voila I found your posting! I had hoped to see you at the end – to see how you had gone but I now know that you left early! As Meme said, you’ve also got to really trust your body & I’m pleased to know that you are contented with your decision. It was a massive rollercoaster ride for me in so many ways as you can appreciate but I found it amazingly beneficial and dare I say ‘enlightening’! The weather ticked me off a little too and I craved the sunshine and the need to exercise – I lapped up the rays as rare as those moments were and certainly did my rounds on the walking track! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me on our journey up the mountain – I think there was something in our meeting. Mr Goenka is constantly popping up in my mind and I’m currently rereading his discourses! Following the course I randomly fell upon a very old print of ‘The Summer of the 17th Doll’ in a book store in Bangalow & so I purchased it! Best wishes to you James – may you always be happy! ;) ;)
    Sincere regards, Felicity

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