My First Course
(Sarah attended her first Vipassana course in early 1980s. At that time, there were no seperate teenagers' courses. She gave following talk at the International Seminar on "The Importance Of Vedana and Sampajanna" held at Dhamma Giri in March 1990.)
My name is Sarah and I am here to tell you of my experience doing my first ten-day course.
I loved the idea of being able to come to India, but having to do the course was a different story. I do want to, I don't want to, I do, I don't. It was like that for a few weeks, but one day my mother told me to meet Mr. Ram Singh and his wife Mrs. Jagdish. So that morning I walked over with some flowers. Me and my mother sat down on the floor, but Mr. Ram Singh said we could not sit on a lower level than him and so we sat on chairs.
I gave him the flowers and then said 'hello', and my mother introduced me and then herself and then told Mr. Ram Singh about how my elder brother, David, went to India last year. You could say that my brief visit to Mr. Ram Singh was sukha (pleasant) -sukha, sukha, not an iota of dukha (unpleasant). "I' m going to India!" I said, and that was definite.
A few weeks later, we arrived in India at about two o'clock in the morning Indian time. The next day we set off to Igatpuri. Once we had settled in, we went and got ready for an hour's group sit and introduction to meditation and S. N. Goenka.
Next day after breakfast I got ready for the eight o'clock group sit and then went to the hall. A very big amount of females went in and I went along with them. I went to my place near the front, sat down and got comfortable then closed my eyes, but after about ten seconds opened them again and looked around, and after five minutes everyone was in and a strange talking started. All the time I had my eyes open, but the strange talking said "close your eyes", so I did.
I started concentrating on the upper area under the nostrils and above the upper lip. Hot, cold, fast, slow, left, right, prickly, smooth, hard, soft - these were all my sensations. But suddenly they all went, they all left me. Where had they gone?
Then soon I realized my mind had wandered, wandered to school, so off I went to find my mind, to find and to bring it back to the area of the lower nostril and upper lip. But when I found it I got pulled into the thoughts of school and my fellow classmates, and this is what happened in all my other hours, half hours, minutes, seconds of all my meditation hours.
Until along came the wonderful technique of Vipassana. Along came day four and we were to learn Vipassana after the morning group sit. Vipassana was to be taught and I closed my eyes and got comfortable. This morning, I thought, I couldn't possibly sit through two hours even if it was Vipassana, and I even expressed my feelings to my mother and my two friends Debbie and Uwana who helped me get through the ten days.
But now in the hall I was eager to learn Vipassana and I totally neglected my first thoughts. At last Mr.& Mrs. S. N. Goenka and Vimala, the assistant teacher for females and the male assistant teacher came in and at last I was to learn Vipassana. I paid little attention to S. N. Goenka's first minor speech but finally I was taught Vipassana. "Feeling sensations all over the body" and I did. Again I got prickly, smooth, soft, hard, fast, slow and all other sensations over my body. But again my mind wandered, but this time I brought it back again.
I was also taught the minor technique of Mettā Bhavana.
To finish my rather long speech I would like to tell you about a rather important day that probably happens to most people on their courses. This day was around day five and this was probably the best day of the course. That day I was full of anger, meanness, unkindness, and wouldn't do anything I didn't want to do, and showed it all immensely. But late that same night I realized that that day was the day all my sankharas didn't like me anymore and decided to go to someone else, and then I suddenly felt happy.
When the course was over I couldn't believe how somebody could ever be so happy as I was that day and practically vowed to myself to come back next year, may be with my younger brother.
I'm sukha, sukha, not an iota of dukha, a thousand time over.
-by Sarah Bridgeland
The teaching was good and it brought a lot of awareness in us. Things we didn’t know. Next time we are in trouble we know exactly what to do. I didn’t have any dislikes about the course. I enjoyed it. I don’t have any suggestions to make. I had a good experience. At first I was restless and impatient. I could meditate properly only for 5 minutes. On the 5th day I did not have much of a problem. I have learnt how to be patient and not to lose my temper. I will practice for 20 minutes every day.
-Kavishta, VIII B
I liked everything about this and I hope that everyone understands and practices meditation. It is quite difficult at first to meditate but after you get used to it, it is nice. It was very interesting and quite nice. It has certainly been very helpful. At the beginning I didn’t take it very seriously but by the end, I found it really captivating and I hope to practice everyday, twice a day. I find myself remembering things I would have usually missed and a lot more calm. I can concentrate a lot better too.
-Lakshmi, VI B
The first and second day, I thought were very interesting and it was because my mind was calm and I had vibrations. Afterwards, I felt bored sitting straight and concentrating on my breath. Seeing the video and listening to the tapes were interesting. The best thing I like about meditation is keeping quiet. I wish we had meditation class one period every day.
-Karmanya, VI A
I liked the peacefulness that comes into our mind and makes you feel good. I would not say I did not like anything, but it was stressful to sit for a long time. My leg started to pain but slowly the pain went away. The day we started was a little tough but by practice enjoyed it.
-Karishma Menon, VI
I liked meditation very much, but it was difficult keeping our eyes closed for more than 10 minutes, sometimes 15 minutes and 25 minutes and sometimes for 30 minutes! I liked meditation because it removed all our worries and when we were very sad, it would change our mood. And mam explained very nicely and she told us stories on that topic and she also told us one point, that nothing is permanent. When we did the 30 minutes meditation, I had a real headache and I felt the world was going round and round.
The course was very good. The things taught and the way of teaching is very good. Make the course a little longer because we have now only settled. I liked the course very much. I have tried to increase my concentration and all other positive qualities. After meditation I feel fresh and peaceful. I will try and practice daily in the morning after getting up for 10 minutes and in the evening before studying for 10 minutes.
-Vijay Karthik, VIII
I like the way they taught us and how kind they were with us and how they taught us the technique or the art of ignoring jealousy egoness etc. I did not have any dislikes I realy enjoyed it. I experienced the truth about pain that how you can control our anger and I really found out the truth about pain and could control my anger, jealousy and telling lies. I could see the difference in 5 days. I could really study faster and sleep well with this daily practice.
-Amita Joy, VIII
I was very nice to learn how it meditate. It was wonderful. It is a nice method to calm yourself. It was very easy to do. It was not so difficult. Whenever you are upset practice this method and see how you feel and how you change in a second Thank you Radhi mam for all things you taught us. I really very happy to see you.
I want the other children to see the T.V. episodes, the charts that Radhi mam and Sabrina man had done, and show them the happy and lovely journey to them. I also like the OHP's pictures.
There is nothing I dislike in my meditation class. I like it very much. I want the people teaching to take the course for more days, unlike one week.
When I first came here I found myself in many difficulties in doing this Anapana Sati. After learning how to avoid the difficulties and distractions I began to know how to change quickly from unhappiness to happiness.
After I learnt this Anapana I became clam and quite. I learnt how to control things and discover that nothing is permanent.
I am taking a vow that I will avoid wrong actions and always practice Anapana Sati every day two times
Morning – 10 or 20 min
Evening – 10 or 20 min
My likes were the charts and the television programmes and the OHP. I would suggest you to show all these things in our course to other children. I have no dislike, because the course was completely useful and very nice and interesting too. I would suggest that these pamphlets and other things I learned during the course would be taught to other children to improve their concentration. I also suggest that you can make this course more interesting for other people. I have experienced aches and pains coming but by doing the Anapana Sati. I have experienced them going. This helped me concentrate a lot. I would practice daily for 20 minutes minimum. Thank you Sabrina Aunty for this nice course.
I like the sila because along with the Anapana Sati it determines you not to do certain things and do certain things. I has made me a wiser person. I dislike the aches and pains but I try to tolerate as much as I can. Take this in many other schools. I was difficult as first became easier as time went. I was cheerful the whole. Never go upset for along time. I determined to do it every day even during the free time.
Meditation class is that my mind felt calm and the ten or fifteen minutes made me happy. I felt a lot of vibrations and felt as I was flying in thin air. The teacher said some interesting stores nice morals. Like as the seed so the fruit and some more. She put up charts. As the first it was quiet tough and not so easy. The teacher showed videos and she played a tape in which her Guru Sri Sathyanarayan Goenka had taped some interesting things about meditation.
I liked everything. I do not name anything I did not like. Everything I liked except one thing the teacher should not have given as a break but I enjoyed it. It changed every thing. I would like to tell the teacher something that is thank you.
I have learnt meditation for the first time. At first I thought it was such a bore but later after I gave it a try. I liked it a lot.
Anapana Sati has helped me a lot in my mental peace, calmness, etc. I mostly get angry at things when I am not in a mood but this practice has helped me calm down.
There's nothing about this wonderful class I dislike. I like it a lot!
Giving a cushion or a mat would be much much better because the ground gives me aches all over. I also hope you would come to our class every day to meditate. As I have written before I like a lot. I was fun and I learnt and lot.. I am also teaching my cousins.
I get the benefit in my studies, my tension, etc. I practice Anapana Sati for 10 min every day morning night and evening.
Meditation was a very nice vibration and I felt calm for the 1st 4 days. But the 5th day was a very boring. I did not feel the vibration. But it was very nice. The first day my head was paining.
Thank you Radhi mam for all your kindness and helpfullness. I am very thankfull to you mam.
I want my schoolmates to watch the T.V. episodes and learn that by meditating you can become more successful in your life.
We din't have time to read the things which were put up in the wall. May be you can given them 5 minutes to just look around the things in the wall. It is a great help to those who are a dull student of a class.
You have changed me into a good girl.
I will try my best to do 2 times a day.
-Aroona R., VI
The meditation was very nice. It helped us to master our mind. I liked it very much and it was a little difficult but I could do it. When the teacher told us to do meditation before we studied and I did it and it was helpful. I thank you for helping me to concentrate.
The meditation was good for me because it helped me focus on my studies much better. When I meditated before my studies and got very good marks.
It was very good because I could focus my mind so well in my studies. I did not have anything else on my mind but studies. My mind was clear.
-Vishal Abraham, VI
I like the way they are punctual.
I do not like everytime removing my shoes and come into the room.
At first I like the meditation but now I feel it is a little boring.
I feel I can concentrate a lot now. I am going to practice but only 5 minutes.
At first I felt that I just couldn't keep my eyes closed for a long time because it was very hard to be tolerant, but gradually it became easier and I accepted the pain and also got rid of it through Anapana Sati. I think that I could have meditated for longer if my eyes had been open. I've become little calmer and left better after this course.