Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Palace, Goenka's 10 Day

In preparation for the December 11 Union Square show, I'm running a fire dancing performance class with 21 students. We're holding the class at The Palace of Fine Arts under this really beautiful dome. Seems like a good place to hold a practice, rain or shine, right? Well, it seems like it, but in reality, after 3 hours of practices there (the above class and another meeting with another group of fabulous performers), I found myself with a hoarse voice (even with the awesome megaphone Jim and Anne brought) and wet feet. This led to me getting the sniffles. So here I am, ready to leave tomorrow for my 10 day Vipassana retreat, wondering if I should go.

If you haven't done one of these retreats, here's the quick summary. All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:

1. to abstain from killing any living creature;
2. to abstain from stealing;
3. to abstain from all sexual activity;
4. to abstain from telling lies;
5. to abstain from all intoxicants.

There are three additional precepts which old students -- of which I am one -- are expected to follow during the course:

6. to abstain from eating after midday;
7. to abstain from sensual entertainment and bodily decoration;
8. to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.

All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.

And you then follow this schedule:
4:00 a.m.----------------Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 a.m.-----------Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 a.m.-----------Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 a.m.-----------Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 a.m.----------Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon--------Lunch break
12noon-1:00 p.m.--------Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 p.m.-----------Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 p.m.-----------Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 p.m.-----------Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 p.m.-----------Tea break
6:00-7:00 p.m.-----------Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 p.m.-----------Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 p.m.-----------Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 p.m.-----------Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m.----------------Retire to your own room--Lights out

The thing is, while you sit during 3 of the 1 hour group sits, for 7 of the 10 days you are not supposed to move. As someone with a running nose, in close quarters to someone else, I question two things: 1. does this make sense for my health? 2. Does this make sense for everyone else's health?

I'll sleep on it and figure it out in the morning...