NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST

I did something last month.

I applied for a 10 day silent meditation, called “Vipassana”, in the Blue Mountains region of Sydney.

Ten blissful days of no speaking, no drinking, no smoking, vegetarian meals…

My astrologer told me about it, knowing that I am quite spiritual.

He suggested it to me just a few days before my most recent trip to Thailand.

Those of you that read my writing, would be aware that learning the art of meditation, is something I have been interested in for quite some time now. To still my restless, and wandering mind…

I thought about this “Vipassana” for a little while, and thought about how much I would likely hate it, being the big talker that I am. Ten days of silence would probably destroy me.

When I arrived to Thailand a couple of months back now, I made friends with a beautiful, and very talented musician who said that he was considering heading to a 3 day Vipassana at the end of the week.

Because I’m all about “following the signs”, I took this as a sign to perhaps give it a go.

It was something I’d never heard of before, and here it was, coming up twice in the one week for me.

So I applied for it upon my return.

I got a phone call from one of the teachers at the Vipassana about a week later, who said that I had been accepted.

For some reason after that phone call, I had a little bit of a meltdown.

My meltdowns are spectacular.

I was near crippled with anxiety over it. I was crying, and wondering why on earth I applied for it.

Yes, it was an extreme overreaction on my part, but like my Mum often reminds me, I am a bit of a drama queen.

But, I really should have paid attention to the feelings that were arising within me. I’ve never been one to not “trust my gut” in the past – so why was I ignoring it now?

So the time came last week for the Vipassana.

I had another meltdown before I left the house, which was alleviated by a trip to McDonalds to gift myself a “Happy Meal” (they make me REALLY happy), before making the two hour car journey to the location.

As I approached the destination, I could see that I was around 800 metres away (thank you google maps), so I pulled over to the side of the road to smoke my last cigarette.

After that, I got back into my car, and proceeded on the route. I pulled into the car park. The car park was surprisingly full. 

From what I could see, it looked quite nice there. Beautiful gardens, a few nice buildings.

I made my way down to the front of the building. I couldn’t work out where to go, so I wandered over to the kitchen, and poked my head in there to ask for directions.

I was told to turn left, and keep on walking and I would see the registration area.

I found where I was going, and entered the registration hall.

There were a lot of people there, and I approached the cute guy at one of the doors. (I later learned his name was David. David with no chest hair, that I could see from the open buttons of his polo shirt. David with the mild lisp.)

“Hi! Where do I go?” I asked him in my bubbly tone.

“You have to go to the womens’ registration hall” he answered, pointing to the other side of the room, which was separated by a door.

I walked in there, and noticed that all the other women were filling out forms.

It was the same form I had filled out online so it was odd that I was having to fill it out again.

After I had completed my form, I stood in line.

We were in the dining hall.

To me, it resembled what I imagine a prison dining hall might look like.

Long bench seats and communal tables. The walls free of any pictures. A coffee / tea station in the far right hand corner.

I looked around at the fellow students. They were of mixed ages. Women there from what appeared to be from their late teens, all the way up to their mid-60’s.

No weirdo hippies, from what I saw. Which was great. Although I often put myself into the box of being a hippy, I have to admit, that I’m actually not really that much of one.

As it came to my turn to hand in my papers and sit down with the registration lady, she handed me a little piece of paper with a number printed on it.

“A3”. It read 

“This is your room” she said to me.

“Do I get a key?” I asked her.

“There are no locks on the door” she informed me.

Hmmm. I wasn’t happy with this idea at all.

I then had to surrender my valuables to another lady behind me.

My phone, my purse.

“Do I need to give you my car keys?” I asked her.

“Up to you. But you won’t be needing them, as you aren’t allowed to go to your car for anything.” She answered.

“Well I’ve got all of my luggage in my car, so I need them for now.” I responded, mildly annoyed. I was already beginning to get frustrated at my anticipated lack of freedom.

I went and retrieved my luggage from my car. I had brought heaps of shit with me.

We were informed via email prior to arriving, that we would need enough clothes for the 10 days, as there are no washing facilities there. And conservative clothes at that. No tight or revealing clothing. We also had to bring a set of sheets, our own pillow, and a sleeping bag. Oh, and a clock.

I got down to my room, which was located underneath the dining hall.

It was a tiny room, about 5 foot, by 8 foot, with a single bed up against the right hand side of the room, a small bedside table, and a small window.

I placed my luggage underneath the bed, and proceeded to put my sheet on the mattress, and roll out my sleeping bag that my father had leant me (who owns a sleeping bag anyway?)

I then went upstairs to the dining hall where supper was being served.

“Supper”, was a clear broth with some broccoli swimming around in it. There was a pile of toast next to it which appeared to be some version of garlic bread perhaps, but upon trying it, it seemed to be bread that had quite possibly been toasted the day prior, moistened with some sort of cooking oil, and sprinkled with a herb that I had potentially never tried before, and hope to never try again.

I sat down and chatted with a women who was around my age, who was currently in between careers, and going through a “creative” time in her life.

I admitted to her that I really didn’t want to be there. She thought I was hilarious. However, I wasn’t joking.

After the meal we were led into the mens dining hall, and briefed about the next 10 days, by chest-hair-free-mild-lisped-David. 

Then we headed to the meditation hall where we were instructed to grab a cushion, and a polar fleece blanket thing for meditation, before being allowed into the hall.

On the Vipassanas website, it said that men and women would be segregated, so I was quite surprised when we entered the meditation hall, that the men were there on the left side of the room.

I was handed a number, and told to go and find my place. 

There was a cushion on the floor with that number attached. That was to be where I was positioned for the next week and a half.

I sat down on the floor, legs crossed. 

We were now told that our “noble silence” would begin.

What is noble silence I hear you ask?

Well, you can’t speak. 

You can’t look at other students, so it’s suggested to keep your eyes downcast. You can’t make gestures (like mouthing to one of the other students “what the fuck?”). 

Nothing. 

No contact. 

And for me it was supremely weird. I talk incessantly. And I am stupidly polite. Always thanking people for opening doors, and the like. So I found that it seemed as though I was being rude if I wasn’t able to communicate the way that I would ordinarily. But I trusted that there would be a method to their madness.

However, I was already secretly counting down the days till I could speak again.

After a while, two teachers came into the room, one male, and one female. They sat at the front of the class, cross-legged, on a raised platform.

The male teacher, then presses play on a CD player, and the cult leader founder, Goenka, begins to start with some chanting in a foreign language.

I don’t know what happened to me, but my brain had an immediate aversion to this mans’ irritating voice.

The sounds that started coming out of the speakers soon turned to groaning, guttural sounds, followed by what could only be described as a racing car changing gears, before finally running out of petrol. I smirked to myself, and looked around the rest of the room to see if anyone else was having a “what the fuck” moment.

Nope. 

All sitting there in what appeared to be a meditative state of bliss, with their eyes closed, and their legs crossed.

After the 2 hour meditation (yep, 2 hours), we were told to go back to our rooms (it was 9.30pm now), and to observe the “noble silence”.

I was tired by this time, and was grateful to go to sleep.

At the excellent time of 4am, some asshole gentleman comes through the dorms with a hammer and a gong, and strikes it to let us know it’s time to wake up.

I wander, bleary-eyed, into the bathroom (there are around 10 showers, and 4 toilets in the communal bathroom), and I proceed to take a shower in my flip flops. I feel as though I am 12 years old again, and on one of those school camps where you have to wear shoes whilst showering to avoid any possible fungal foot infections (but I swear I’m not a princess).

I get dressed, and put on a coat of mascara and some lip gloss (the deadly sin of vanity has not alluded me, merely because it’s the middle of the night), and I make my way up to the meditation centre.

Nearly all of the men are present, and maybe only half of the women. I guess they just slept in.

I sit in silence and contemplation from 4.30am until 6.30am, when the gong for breakfast goes.

I make my way to the female dining hall where we form an orderly queue with a bowl in our hands. 

It really does feel like prison.

There is a large pot of what looks like porridge, another large pot with stewed prunes (which seems to be a slight error to consider consuming these due to their well known laxative effect), a bowl of greek style yogurt, some muesli, and some fruit.

I take a bit of everything (avoiding the prunes), and sit down silently to eat.

The energy in the room is quite solemn. Everyone looks tired, and a little dishevelled from the early morning start. It is obviously silent, aside from the noise of the ladle being scraped in the pot to retrieve the glue like contents. Oh, and the sound of crockery being stacked, as we have to wash our bowls after we’re done.

My breakfast concoction was woeful, so I ended up settling for a cup of tea, and an apple.

I head back down to my room after breakfast, and lay down on the bed. I must have drifted off, because before I knew it, homeboy was clanging his gong again outside the dorm.

I opened my eyes and looked at the time.

7.50am.

Ugh. More meditation. This time from 8am until 11am.

I again made my way back to the meditation hall. 

For some reason, everyone was walking abnormally slowly, and I frustratingly got stuck behind them on the hill up to the hall. 

I don’t know if that was the normal speed that they generally walk at, or if they were just tired, or if they thought that this can, in some way, assist with their meditative state. 

So I sit in that wretched meditation hall for 3 hours, listening to Goenka telling us to observe our “desperation”.

And….the internal monologue begins…..

“Yes. That is what I’m doing” I thought to myself, “observing my desperation. I’m desperate to get the fuck out of here. I’m desperate to sleep. I’m desperate to speak to someone. To give someone a cuddle. To crack jokes and laugh with someone. I am desperate to stop sitting like a yogi. I am desperate for someone to open the windows in this hall that contains no windows so that sweat smell will escape. I am desperate to stop hearing this mans voice…” my mind trailed off as I made my desperation observation.

Well, at least that’s what I thought he said, until I realised he was actually saying “respiration”.

“Oh, well that kind of makes sense” came the next thought, seeing as though we were concentrating on breathing through our nostrils.

Which a lot of people were suffering with quite a bit.

There seemed to be a handful of hay fever sufferers in the hall, that were blowing their noses constantly, and sneezing.

So I sat quietly, and observed my “respiration”.

“If any thoughts are coming into your mind, breathe a little harder.” Goenka informed us.

“Hmmm. Of course thoughts are coming into my mind. Because I have a brain. And that’s what generally happens.” my internal voice concluded.

Instead, I chose to follow his instructions, and breathe harder each time a thought popped into my head.

My mind became clear for a moment, and it was then, that another thought popped into my head.

“If I breathe any harder, I’m going to pass out.”

Just then, a woman in front of me broke wind. Must have been those stewed prunes.

I snickered to myself. Those that know me personally, know that I have an excellent sense of humour. And I laugh at everything.

The woman next to me, turned to me with an eye roll, as if to say “grow up”.

I thought to myself “Ummm hello…that woman broke the “noble silence” before I did”.

So I sat there and continued to observe my respiration, praying the whole time that the smell wouldn’t waft my way, considering as though we were concentrating on our nostrils at this point.

At 11am, the lunch gong rang.

Lunch was a vegetable stew. Carrots, lentils, red capsicum, and zucchini, cooked without salt, served with brown rice and pasta.

I didn’t particularly fancy the lunch (YES OK I’M A PRINCESS), so I didn’t eat much, and again settled for a cup of tea and a piece of fruit.

After lunch, I decided to go for a walk around the property. We were told that we were allowed to exercise by taking walks on the tracks.

The two tracks that there were, led to locked gates, so I got to do loops of the two driveways on offer, which for a gym junkie like myself, compounded the fact that I was already stuck on a treadmill of sorts in terms of the routine that I had foolishly signed up for. More “crazy-making” rules.

Then more meditation began. From 1pm until 5pm.

I sat there mentally having romantic trysts with a couple of the bearded gents on the other side of the room. Thank you “Game of Thrones” for serving as inspiration to these men.

Now, there’s one thing that I forgot to mention. 

The “rules”.

There were five rules that we were meant to observe whilst we were there:

1. to abstain from killing any being;

2. to abstain from stealing;

3. to abstain from all sexual activity;

4. to abstain from telling lies;

5. to abstain from all intoxicants

Now, I must go back to the first night there.

There was a sign outside the door that instructed us to remove our shoes before entering the room.

For some reason, the rebellious teenager in me had resurfaced, and I chose to keep my flip-flops on. I really, really hate being told what to do.

And it was lucky I did leave my shoes on.

As I entered my cell room, there was a large brown spider on the floor.

I have an irrational fear of spiders. 

Like, I would be one of those people you read about in the news who clumsily burns their house down trying to eradicate just one single spider.

So I was thankful that I had the mindfulness to keep my shoes on, because how the fuck would I sort that shit out without a pair of shoes? I mean, really…

Rule one – inadvertently broken.

And now we come to rule two. 

I was going a little mad as I was forbidden from bringing any reading or writing material on the course.

Ummm….hello….I’m a goddamn writer….it’s my passion. I read, and write constantly.

I read everything from the milk carton as I’m making my coffee in the morning, to the washing detergent bottle when I’m doing the dishes, to my shampoo bottle whilst I’m showering.

And I write ALL the time.

To me, It was such a bizarre situation that I had voluntarily signed up for, that I simply had to document it.

I knew I had a pen in my bag, so I went into the communal bathroom, and I stole a paper towel roll to write on.

As I was making the mad dash from the bathroom back to my room, I panicked for a nano-second as I realised that one of the other women had seen me take the paper towel roll into my dorm.

“Oh no. She’s going to tell one of the teachers” my mind piped up.

And then the rational part chimed in, “but she’s in noble silence”. I smiled to myself at the knowledge of this important piece of information, mentally rubbing my hands together at how clever I was.

So, rule two of no stealing? 

Broken.

Rule three was also broken I guess, if you can liken “thinking” about sexual activity with those bearded bandits to actually participating in the deed.

Rule four was also broken. The one about not telling lies.

We were meant to meditate in our rooms. But quite frankly, the sleep deprivation won out, and I chose sleep, over contemplating my navel. Even though they trusted us to do as they asked.

Rule five was kept firmly intact though. The one about intoxicants.

Although I did manage to smuggle some chocolate in, however I refrained from eating it despite the lack of food (which was totally my fault – there was plenty of food on offer – I just chose not to eat it).

So, back to the meditation.

I think I dozed off a couple of times during the four hours we sat in silence. I had a couple of those embarrassing “falling dreams”. 

You know the ones. 

Where you jolt awake violently.

However mine were more one of those ones where I realise I’m falling forward (after all, I was sitting in the lotus position), and I would quickly regain my composure, and pray that no one had seen me, after having stopped myself just in time from falling forward and concussing the student in front of me.

After the meditation, I am really hungry, and am the opposite of annoyed when the gong chimer comes around announcing the dinner break. 

In fact, I’m delighted.

I go up to the dining hall, and to my absolute despair, I discover that our evening meal is an apple, an orange, and a pot of hot water with some slices of lemon in it.

Ughhhh…..a major error on my part by choosing to not eat the other meals that they had served through the day.

I thanked myself for having the mindfulness to “fatten up” before I embarked on my concentration camp retreat.

The few days prior, I had eaten loads of chocolate, and creamy pastas for dinner, and managed to gain 2 kilos. Just in case starvation was a possibility. Call it a premonition if you will…

I sat outside on the balcony, and took in the sweeping views of the Blue Mountains (which were breathtaking might I add), and ate the fruit that was provided to me.

At 6pm, it was time for more meditation until 8pm, where all I could think about was food.

Then the teachers put on a DVD of this Goenka dude who spoke about a lot of stuff. It maddeningly went for 90 minutes.

He spoke about that we are all living in misery (really? I’m pretty happy – actually, I’m quite jovial, and full of beans), and that this particular meditation was like “brain surgery”. That those of us that couldn’t complete the meditation were “weak-minded”.

It was then, that I got a sinking feeling that this was a little more than a “non-sectorial” meditation technique. 

Particularly after he denounced every religion, whilst I observed the teachers perched on their raised platforms, wondering if they considered themselves as some type of “demi-god” or the like.

At the end of the DVD, it was question time with the teacher. 

I had made up my mind then that I didn’t want to go any further with this meditation. That it wasn’t for me.

I thought it was unnecessary, and potentially harmful to my sensitive, creative mind. And I didn’t buy into the whole being “weak-minded” thing. I was being strong-minded I thought. To not allow my ego take ahold of the reigns and convince me that unless I completed this particular “technique”, that I had failed in some way. To have some strange man, with his equally strange voice, get into my head and make me think that I had “failed” in some way. I was beginning to think that perhaps guilt was a part of this “technique”.

The lack of sleep, the lack of food, and the lack of human contact was enough to drive anyone mad. And it had only been ONE day. How would I possibly last TEN days? And more importantly, WHY was I subjecting myself to something that I had such an initial aversion to? And now that I had experienced it first hand, I knew that this was something that was wrong for me.

I approached the assistant teacher, and asked if I could speak with the teacher, whom I’d spoken with on the phone prior to me being accepted on the course.

She told me to take a cushion, and kneel before the teacher. 

I mean, what’s THAT about? Why do I have to kneel, if this is a “non-sectorial” place?

I did it regardless.

“Oh hi,” I began enthusiastically, speaking quickly, like I do, with that permanent smile on my face. “I’m Amy Anka. The writer. I spoke to you on the phone?” I introduced myself, hoping for some recognition on her part. “Look, I feel as though I’ve been a little bit ambitious in committing myself to something like this, and after having spent the day meditating, I realise it’s just not for me. I mean, I don’t even have a background in meditation, and yoga, and the like.” I explained to her as she looked at me with a calm face.

“That’s just your mind messing with you” she told me.

I exhaled sharply.

“Nobody here has a background in meditation or yoga. Now, you’ve committed to this, and we’ll see you in the morning.” she said firmly.

I felt tears prick the backs of my eyes, and my face began to flush, as I tried to fight back the flow of emotions that threatened to overwhelm me.

“Is she fucking kidding me?” I thought to myself.

My resistance soon dissipated as I told myself that I was just being stubborn (if anyone were to describe me in one word, I’m sure this would be their “go-to” word), and I probably wasn’t giving it a proper chance. Also, I really wanted to go to sleep.

I made my way back down to my dorm, and put myself to bed.

I laid awake, tossing and turning until 1am before finally drifting off and having very strange and vivid dreams.

Homeboy came around on schedule, at 4am, with that godforsaken gong. I don’t even think it was that that woke me up. I woke myself up by sighing loudly.

I dramatically clambered out of my sleeping bag, and made my way into the bathroom to shower.

I calmly walked up the meditation hall at 4.30am, and begun my two hours of micro-sleeps quiet contemplation.

I was quite docile at this stage, and had accepted my fate by the end of the two hours.

I went to breakfast afterwards and ate properly, before taking another secret nap in my room, and then going for the 8am meditation. 

But in all seriousness, who needs a nap at 7am? What had my life come to?

At 11am, the gong chimed. 

I went and ate the lunch that they served (potatoes, and half-cooked pumpkin in a curry soup, with brown rice), and then went back to my room where I planned on taking another nap, but decided to do laps of the two driveways instead.

As I was walking, I was getting more and more frustrated.

“What a load of fucking bullshit. As if life is full of misery. This is misery here. I am in hell. I could die tomorrow, and this is how I’m choosing to spend my time? Who the fuck would choose this? Life is short for Gods sake. This is not living. This is a joke. I know how to meditate. I meditate all the time. When I wash my car. When I shower. When I clean my house. When I write. And who is this Goenka dude anyway? And what’s with his voice?” My mind was in overdrive now.

The teacher had requested to see me at noon to discuss the meditation with me.

I went to the hall, and kneeled before her in a private room. I asked her what the objective was with this meditation. She told me at the end, I will be a good person.

“Oh….so I’m currently a bad person?” my mind intercepted.

I really didn’t like what was going on here, yet I pushed through.

I went to the 1pm meditation, and became more, and more furious. Particularly after they started to play the recording of his voice with his indecipherable chants and groans.

Oh, and let me just say, that upon wandering up to the 1pm meditation, I was intercepted by a huge black snake slithering across the path. If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is…

Back to the meditation.

I sat there until 4pm, shifting uncomfortably. My legs would go numb, and I’d move to a different position. I’d fidget. I’d open my eyes, and scan the room. I’d have all sorts of thoughts. I’d style up outfits in my head. I continued to have lustful affairs with the boy team. At times, I’d drift off to sleep.

Goenkas voice would boom through the speakers.

“OBSERVE YOUR DESPERATION” – OK, we’ve established that he was really saying respiration, but I was certainly observing my sheer desperation at this point.

This is where I had, what I refer to, as a “fuck this shit” moment.

The teacher announced at 4pm that we could meditate in our rooms, or stay in the hall.

I’ll be damned if I was going to sit in that hall any longer than I had to, so I made my way back down to my room. And do you know what I did? I packed my bags. I was determined that I was leaving immediately.

I couldn’t find the manager anywhere, and so I had to go to one of the kitchen staff, and tell her I wanted to leave.

She told me that I would have to speak to the teacher first before I left. I advised her that I didn’t want to speak with the teacher again, as I had made up my mind that I wanted to leave and she was only going to attempt to convince me to stay.

We went up to a house at the back of the property hidden behind a fence.

There were caravans on the property, and a couple of people inside the actual house that was there.

Two indian women were inside, and the kitchen staff lady told the two women that I was staff, and that she merely wanted to know where the manager was.

Apparently, the manager had gone away for a few days, and the women were insistent on knowing whether or not I was a student, and if the kitchen staff lady was telling the truth.

As we walked back down into the common areas, the kitchen lady told me to just be quiet, and that she couldn’t tell those women that I was a student because they would try to make me stay.

Alarm bells began to ring in my head, and I became more and more agitated. What difference would it make whether or not I stayed? And more importantly, WHY did they want me to stay?

“I’m leaving today” I firmly told the kitchen lady. “I have my car here. I just need my valuables back so I can go”.

“Don’t worry. Come into the kitchen, and I’ll make you a cup of tea, and I’ll find a way for you to leave” she told me.

She made me tea, and brought me some book on Buddhism, and went in search of the manager.

After around 15 minutes, the assistant teacher came and got me.

She was very nice, but she told me I needed to speak to the teacher about wanting to leave.

Fear and dread washed over me as I intuitively knew I was about to get served.

I walked with the assistant teacher to the teachers room.

She was sitting upon her throne raised platform in her room, and she instructed me to grab a cushion and kneel before her.

“Ok, so I’ve been thinking a lot” – which I felt a little foolish for admitting, as the whole point of this exercise was to NOT think, “and I have decided that this really isn’t for me, and I’d like to go. I have a lot going on in my life right now, and I just feel a little overwhelmed with my decision. I didn’t realise how intense it would be”. 

Rule four broken again. The one about abstaining from telling lies. In reality, I just didn’t buy into the nonsense that was going on. I’ve tried a myriad of things during my 35 years, and this was certainly something that did not sit well with me.

And then, the teacher became annoyed.

“I knew you were going to be trouble. And this is just going to get more, and more intense over the coming days and you are going to cause more trouble. I’m very disappointed.”

This is when I had another one of my moments. This time it was a “what the fuck?” moment.

She was visibly flustered. Her voice was trembling, and her face had begun to flush.

Hmmm. The jedi-master, wizard meditation guru had been rattled, by my simple request to leave. It had me questioning her motives as to what the big bloody deal was.

I sat there, calm as a hindu cow, observing her ego talking to me now, and wondering who the Jedi-meditation-master was after all….

“You can’t apply for another 6 months” she went on, “and I’m actually going to put a black mark against your name saying that your anxiety and panic attacks is what is making you leave, and they probably won’t let you do a course ever again.”

I think I went into a little bit of a stupefied state now, and another “WHAT THE FUCK??!!” moment swept over me. I never told her I was having a panic attack.

It was 5pm by now.

“You can’t leave until 6pm. Until all of the other students are in meditation. And you need to be gone by 7pm, so as not to distress the other students” she told me.

I thanked her for her time, and for accepting me, and also apologised for not being able to continue on the course (even though she certainly wasn’t happy with me), and gleefully made my way back to my room. I think I skipped actually.

The assistant teacher brought me back my valuables, and I drove like Satan himself was trailing behind me to get back home.

I have never been more appreciative of music on my way home. Of being able to drive my car. Of being able to sing along to Ed Sheeran in my car. Of being able to shower for 20 minutes when I got home. To sleep in my own bed at a time of my choosing. To communicate whenever I wanted to. Oh, and in other news, I weighed myself upon my return and I had actually lost 3 kilos. Just saying…

Whilst today’s article is exceptionally long, I couldn’t possibly condense it any further to tell this particular story.

So, what did I learn from this experience?

That I am incredibly balanced, and grounded. 

That I am a human being. 

That yes, I fully embrace spirituality, but on my terms. 

That whilst I’m a recluse, I choose the way I am reclusive. 

That I really am a bit of a princess –  but that there is a difference between a princess and a queen, and I potentially lean more toward that of a queen. 

That I love music. 

That I really, really, really love to read and write. 

That I LOVE talking. Like, a LOT. 

That I thrive on human contact (how else am I meant to seek inspiration?). 

That 4am is a dumb time to wake up. 

That a 5 minute shower simply doesn’t cut it. 

That I know how to meditate. 

That writing is my meditation (I even sit in the “lotus” position when I write). 

That I am the master (or mistress) of my own domain. 

That I have a very strong personality. 

That I want what I want, and I’ll stop at nothing to make it happen. 

It’s why I am where I am.

Just yesterday, I received an email from the woman I met on that first day at the meditation. And it totally brightened my day, as I have taken a temporary sabbatical from publishing. 

As I so often do, I had contemplated quitting publishing my writing forever. 

And then I got this message, and decided to push on, and continue to do what I do.

It was such a beautiful email, and I have decided to publish it within this article, as for some reason she managed to capture the essence of my being in our short interaction. 

I guess that’s what honesty, and vulnerability does. 

Allows people to see you for who you truly are. And I’m not ashamed to be authentically who I am. 

None of us should be apologetic about who we are at our core. 

So here is the letter below:

“Dear Amy,  

                     This is ******. We crossed paths on registration day at Blackheath. 

We chatted and laughed quite openly for a small amount of time before noble silence started.

I’m glad you told me your blog, as I put it on my “things to do” list when I got my techno back.

When I didn’t see your sandals in that corridor I knew you had made an exit.

I met another girl on the second last day, and she was also a writer and had her own blog.

She was tempted to use tweezers to scratch out words on cardboard as I think it was driving her nuts too.

I liked the silence part, and not having technology around, as I have been a slow starter with computers etc.

I bought my first laptop this year, and I’m not on Facebook. Your blog was the first I’ve read.

I hope I’m not boring you, as you might want to get comfy, as this could be quite a long email.

I found sitting hard to do, cross-legged, and was restless a lot, and not to mention my mind never stopped chatting.

After the third day, things were getting serious in the group meditations. You had to stay in the hall for 1 hour, three times during the day and be determined to not move and keep your eyes closed.

Maybe once or twice I felt complete stillness within both body and mind – it was attainable.

As for the rest of the time, there were lots of different emotions that I wrestled with.

The one thing which helped me, was to just observe things as they were, and don’t react.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and for us sensitive souls, that was a help to put it into practise.

I could write more but I can’t be bothered. I’m excited to tell you that I love your blog. Seriously.

When I got back home, I was completely wired and couldn’t sleep at all.

That’s when I was reading your stories till 3 in the morning. I had insomnia. I had to share that. It’s like running on auto pilot.

You stood out to me that day I met you. Not only did I want your outfit, but some people just shine more brightly than others.

So my first ever blog I’ve checked out was Amy Anka, and I admire how brutally honest, and frank you are.

Not only that, but I’m interested in how you see the world, and how you’re on a spiritual quest too.

You’re a funny bitch…Can I say that? You had me in stitches especially with the “fuckballs” comment on the naked man crouching next to you at the beach.

I do funny shit all the time, I can relate a lot too.

I love Byron Bay, and after reading of your love for the place, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to have a sea-change, and it would solve your hate for washing your hair. You could have your dreadlocks.

I’m going to wrap it up, as I’m starting to yawn. 

I look forward to hearing from you .

Love and Best wishes…”

My article titles always have some sort of gravity to them.

I have a t-shirt that says “not all those who wander are lost”.

I packed that t-shirt for my retreat.

Because I truly believe that.

Just because we are seemingly “wandering” about, searching for “who” we are, does that mean that we are “lost”?

No.

Not at all.

We are just finding our own truth.

And like I always say, do whatever it takes to get you to where you need to go. 

Whatever it takes.

Even if that means getting out of your comfort zone. 

Because outside of that comfort zone is where we come to understand who we are. Where we find what is true for ourselves.

I personally believe that the most important journey in this relatively short lifetime of ours, is to “find ourselves”. 

And by finding ourselves, I mean figuring out who “YOU” are. 

Find your own truth. 

Even if that means figuring out who you are by discovering who, and what you are not (this is the quote on my private facebook wall, which I have recently changed for those of you who are my friend).

And keep your sense of humour. And like Steve Jobs says, “stay foolish”. It’s this childlike vulnerability that helps us to keep our minds open to what is.

(To conclude, there is an interesting read here by an ex-student of this Goenka Vipassana if anyone is curious. It’s actually fascinating – http://eldar.cz/kangaroo/mirror/vipassana-critique.pdf)

 

UNTITLED

I’ve been writing like mad, however I’ve taken a break from publishing for a while as I’m in deep contemplation for now, and gone into my shell like I maddeningly do from time to time.

I received an email from my lovely friend Damien Pitw (author of “My Mind, My Heart, And My Balls”), and I’ve decided to publish this for now, as I thought it was so beautifully written, and it spoke volumes to me in my current state…

“Hi Amy,

I hope you’re doing fine.

Here’s a poem I wrote when I was in Cambodia.

It’s a two-voice discussion between a poet and his muse, a philosopher and his inspiration, a self and his higher self… Whoever they are they are having a little chat about life!

I hope you enjoy it!”

O eternal wisdom by so few encountered,
Why be silent when our lost souls need be shepherd?
O divine design when will your truth ever shine
To reveal its mysterious ways and show me mine?

My foolish friend, why so much passion in your voice,
When you think so serious about matters so tedious?
If your ways are not mine feel free to make the choice
To rejoice in the sublime, away from the obvious.
Why trouble your mind with thoughts and comprehension
When truth, you shall find, lies behind peaceful emotions?

With peace of mind came faith that even the worst errors
I made were meant for transformation to unfold.
But they did nothing for the fate of countless others
Their suffering still forged in time-forsaken molds.
Forever weaves our ignorance and in its nest
We idly dwell behind shrouds of faces and cults.
Forever blindly we trust the words of the prophets,
Taking for Gods those who sprang from the rest of us.
Our lives are so short, our believes so volatile,
How not get lost in quests ever so futile?

My eccentric friend, don’t you hear the frustration
Trigger your dramatic lack of imagination?
If all beliefs are sterile, why cherish them so?
Why die for them, even slow? Whey even fight,
And defend human judgments against divine law?
Beware of mundane opinions on good and right.
No matter the biddings, let it be acceptance
To hold your hand and lead the course of your action.
Doubt understanding and accept that relevance
Will offer you guidance in deep contemplation.
All you’ll ever do shall be means to that one end.
The world might be a mess, but it’s not yours to mend.
Stay focus on balance and protect your actions
From the evils of idleness and distraction.

How much wisdom and love shall I gather in me,
For anger to dissolve and fuel positive will?
Were I trained in the ways of your soft alchemy,
Could I forever stay in the bliss you make me feel?
Nomadic explorer of the states of my mind,
The more I inquire, the more I seem to find,
The mystic beauty of being alive and why
An all-knowing universe would want to play I.
How sweet it is to let live, and love and be loved,
To be here and now and leave problems unresolved,
To give time for solutions ever so little
To mature ’till they fit and complete the puzzle.
If none of that requires my direct assistance,
Am I truly free to stand up and take my chance?
I will laugh and scream and dance and be carried away,
And cry for the sake of letting pain have its own way.
I’ll read and eat and love, delight in pleasure,
But in this abundance bring a touch of good measure.
Witness the most subtle and live in the sublime
Transcendence of the sens, lost in a selfless dance.
And to the last syllable of recorded Time,
Explore the essence of my human existence.

Life is an art when Truth invites you to speak so.
Now that you see, go and share about Samadhi.
With silent surrender between notes of letting go,
Repeat not the letter, but play the melody.
What more can I teach that you don’t already know?
Celebrate each sacred day while the sun still shines,
And always remember until the light goes off:
Hold no regrets for the women and the wines,
Hold no remorse for sometimes life has to be tough.
Live your life as if you were going to die,
And fear not that which alone is not a lie:
Everything that comes to being shall meet an end.
From sand to sand, primordial matter in the blend,
From dust to dust, immortal only is balance.

Life is the felt presence of endless existence,
A reflexion in Time where we walk hand in hand.
Heart and Mind are but echoes of an illusion,
Ripples in the wild flow of timeless transition.