Leh Days and Vipassana
Leh, the beautiful mountain dessert, has most definitely become one of my favorite places in India. I felt so content there, it was like a home away from home, a massively special place which made me wake up every morning with a smile on my face.
So after my birthday trek I went back to Leh. So many people travel around on motorbike in the Ladakh area, so I thought Ive got to give it a try ofcourse! Really don't know how I got away with hiring one, Ive driven mopeds plenty of times so thought pah, how hard could a motorbike be? I reassured the guy Ive drove loads of motorbikes, but when I got on the bike I didnt have a bloomin clue how to start it or where the gears were! I told him its not like the bikes Ive drove before ;-) but Ill be fine if he just shows me the basics... he looked well confused! After a bit of practise in a quiet street I was fine and dandy, although there were a few dodgy mild heart attack moments! Driving a motorbike round the beautiful Leh mountain roads was one of the free-est feelings Ive ever experienced. Went on a right lovely little adventure! Leh touches your heart in every way and theres something to grab your attention round every corner. My Leh days were spent taking carrots to the donkeys at the donkey sanctuary, climbing up to Leh palace and the fort, meeting up some lush like minded travelers, sitting under prayer flags high up painting henna, visiting stupas and gompas, and shopping, alot!
Vipassana... you hear of this retreat where you learn to meditate, and you have to be silent for the 10 days - no speaking, no music, no reading, no writing, no computers etc. Ipods, mobiles, books, camera's, diaries etc have to be put in a safe for 10 days and you have to take a vow of noble silence. a quick reaction is to say sod that! I made a decision last year that I wanted to do a Vipassana retreat and this was the main aim of my trip. People Ive met who've done Vipassana had told me a total variety of things about their experiences during their 10 days, but the ending was always the same, that it was an amazing thing and they are so glad they did it.
I chose the Dhamma Sota Centre in peaceful Sohna in the state of Haryana in the north. I had wanted to do it up in Leh originally, but the centre were being crap in confirming a date so I lost faith. But Im so glad as my search for somewhere else lead me to this centre. Proper lush little place, its in a really rural part of India, surrounded by farm land and rice paddies, the centre is quaint, lots of flowers and trees and peacocks in the garden.
The silence may sound like such a hard part of this retreat, but its the easiest thing about it! Its the meditation and what the silence brings thats the hardest parts! The 10 days were a roller coaster of thoughts, emotions, realisations, frustrations and raw reality. I wont go in to detail about any of those things as I think Vipassana is such a personal journey, but I will say this and I hope it inspires you to try it. A Vipassana retreat gives you huge invaluable realisations, it teaches you where you are going wrong and how to find peace, happiness and harmony in yourself, it teaches you how to have a balanced mind, how the mind works, you learn important things about yourself and most of all it teaches you a fantastic meditation technique that will help all of those lessons flow through the rest of your life with daily practice. It was a hard journey, but I dont think anything with that much worth could be easy.
Went to a national park after, gorgeous parks and a lake, well peaceful. Didnt fancy anything too hectic straight after!