I attended a 4 day Art of Silence course - conducted by Art of Living foundation.
It was mind blowing.
I was one of the very few newbies. 95% of the participants were repeating the course - some even for the 14th time. This course happens every week in Bangalore Ashram. In Mumbai it is conducted twice a year - it is like a special program for the busy bodies we Mumbaikars are.
We do some mini games, some gyan, getting to chat up with the fellow participants ( 58 were there in total ) - bank executives, marketing specialists, students, young professionals, retired gentlemen, elderly ladies - what a mix! Then slowly gradually Sangeeta Didi ( she is one of the earliest disciples / teachers with Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar ) introduced us to the concept of silence and gave a practical suggestion to call home and inform before hand - that when I come home I will not communicate - not even a nod of the head, or SMS, or email or chit of paper. Also was not supposed to read a book, listen to music, watch TV - or any distracting activity. Have to fully be with me, myself and my mind.
I turned off Cellular access, Wifi on my phone - so no notifications will show up and distract me.
I pick up a headache early in the day which will just not go away. One after the other meditations followed - all were guided meditations. My mind was going nuts. It was jumping with joy - of getting the entire stage and that too with the entire limelight, infinite red bull supply, a nice comfy sofa for it to sit and a nice quiet auditorium - with just one audience who has to listen to everything and anything it wanted to think,sing,speak - ugh.
While I was undergoing meditation it was comforting. Moment it was over the chatter will start to give me a head splitting headache.
They had arranged for a nice SatSang - the only time we are allowed to open our mouth and sing - but mostly it was only Chants. For a brief while when I immersed myself in the singing the headache went away - but moment it was over the headache was back.
That night I had a tough time going to sleep. But had a nice deep sleep once I fell asleep.
When I woke up I checked - there was no headache. Reached on time ( 7 : 00 AM ), did the yoga - Padmasan - for the first time in my life - then Sudarshan Kriya - and felt great.
Had to eat food quietly. Since I cannot make eye contact with the other person sitting in the table I had to stare into the plate, the spoon, the food - and eat. Quiet mindful eating. And the Satvic food (no onions or garlic ) tasted so good. Loved it in fact. It was all Marwari and Jain dishes and enjoyed fully.
Then more guided meditation one after the other with short breaks inbetween. No headaches - I was at peace with that mind fellow and it was being in bliss the entire day. There was one meditation in motion - which was so painful but yet so wonderful when it was over. Actually the coach - Sangeeta Didi - was so encouraging and I was able to pull it off. I will not spoil it if you are going to attend this course some day. Ask me in person I will show how it is was done.
Meanwhile the back started hurting. I stand the entire day at work nowadays so thought my back was strong, but sitting all day on the floor started giving me trouble. I saw quite a few folks have a yoga chair. Actually on day 1 they brought it for sales - I the brave thought - huh - this is for oldies. I am this fit guy and nothing can break me. And I oh so wanted the yoga chair. Think of a chair without any legs. You can nicely comfily sit on it for hours and hours and medidate. Grrr.
Anyway - coming back to the story. Evening it was Satsang. I was very much at peace. Was in love with the world. Wrote a letter to myself - which I can read when I go back to the wild world.
The chants started. The live tabla, the guitar, the melodious voice - all started some reaction within me. I was so grateful - like I have never been ever before. For my parents, for Sangeeta Didi, for Sangeeta, for Guruji - for everyone - and I wanted to badly go thank Sangeeta Didi while she was leaving - but remembered I am not to speak - and I choked literally. And tears started flowing. Islands don't cry and neither do I. It was weird. I was smiling at myself all teared up but did not want the emotion to go away so switched off the mind who had started its ego game and just bathed in the moment.
I end the story here.
It was an amazing adventure. There is a whole lot of mystery waiting to be uncovered.
Before I close had to thank Sangeeta. ApartmentADDA had an unexpected front page coverage in Times of India, Mumbai on Monday and demos had filled up like anything over the weekend. I volunteered to skip the course and do a few demos ( was looking for an excuse as I was not sure if I can cope 4 days of silence and the unknown) but Sangeeta was stern that I attend and I am thankful for her. She said she will handle them. And she was giving marathon demos that weekend when I was sitting in bliss - and Sunday evening when I met her she had lost her voice.
And by sheer co-incidence, Sep 18, 2008 is when I wrote the first line of code for ApartmentADDA. This silence course started on Sep 18, 2014. Makes me wonder is it all pre-programmed?