Cycling the Ring of Kerry took less preparation than I had imagined. 180 kilometers seemed to be an unfathomably long bike ride that made my daily trips to school or Tesco pail in comparison. I had packed all the dates, bananas, and cashews that could fit inside my backpack to safeguard against what I feared was immanent starvation and exhaustion. Next, I was lent top-notch gear, including an ultra lightweight carbon fiber Trek bike, clip-in shoes, and shirts from a friend who is a real-life iron woman. (http://www.irishtriathlon.com/index.php/2014/07/tamara-maxantovas-kona-qualification-report-from-ironman-austria/) Then I found myself trolling on YouTube and stumbled along this gem on how to wear bike shorts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hOcNoYchlI&feature=youtu.be). And so, Iza and I followed the wise words and went without knickers across 217.11 km of stunning scenery.

                                                             Gap of Danloe. Ring of Kerry.

Traveling is easy. And that’s something I should have reminded myself. There are always well-worn paths to follow and friendly locals to point you in the right direction. There are also always people who will stop to give you a lift. For instance, we sustained a bicycle injury (a broken chain) and despite the most heroic efforts to resuscitate it, we needed heavy-duty tools. And here entered a middle-aged English couple from the midlands who provided a lift to the nearest bike shop.

The challenging physical test I had hoped to meet ended up being pleasantly manageable. Perhaps the daily cycling and regular swimming, sport activities, and gym attendance helped? We easily covered around 70 kilometers each day, burning in total 5,641 calories each.

One of the most pleasant experiences of the trip was feeling that we were temporarily lifted out from Ireland. The weather was warm. The sun bronzed our skin (after burning mine first). We came across soft sand and beaches with turquoise water. Palm trees dotted the landscape along with colorful wildflowers that broke through the lush green. Magenta dangling bells, crimson and pink pendants, white fluffy saucers and yellow star-like petals that formed a wand. And of course, countryside hydrangeas of the most cheerful varieties.

Cycling from Killarney to Kenmare our first evening, we passed Ladies View and the National Forest as the summer sun was beginning to fall and a mist hovered among the rhododendrons that had just past their bloom. The goodnight song of the birds and fresh dewy forest air was revitalizing.


Day 1. Killerney-Kenmare.


Day 2. Kenmare - Ballinskellings.



Day 3. Ballinskellings-Glenbeigh.



Day 4. Glenbeigh-Killarney.


What would make cycling though the Ring of Kerry a 10 out of 10? Experiencing a well developed culinary tradition, bigger than a just your meal in a glass. We did have a pleasant dining experience at Rumours Café near Rossbeigh which served up muscles and lamb and Murphy’s salted ice cream in Killarney where we indulged in Dingle-gin and strawberry pleasures. But what about cycling though Champagne or Tuscany? This is all food for thought.

I will now travel by bike whenever possible, and hopefully, again with Iza. She makes for an incredible travel companion! Her tales of traveling across 7 continents kept me captivated and have inspired me to continue nurture my own enthusiasm for exploring. Seeing. Tasting. And challenging myself. 





Kenmare. Ring of Kerry.

 Sneem. Ring of Kerry.

Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

                                                      Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.


 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

                                                Kasia Szymańska. Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.


 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

Bikes at the beach. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 On the way to Waterville. Ring of Kerry. 

 On the way to Waterville. Ring of Kerry. 

Around Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Portmagee.

Kerry Cliffs, view from Valentia Island. 

                                                               On the way to Killarney.


 Killarney.



Written by Kasia Szymańska, veterinary student at UCD



Cycling the Ring of Kerry took less preparation than I had imagined. 180 kilometers seemed to be an unfathomably long bike ride that made my daily trips to school or Tesco pail in comparison. I had packed all the dates, bananas, and cashews that could fit inside my backpack to safeguard against what I feared was immanent starvation and exhaustion. Next, I was lent top-notch gear, including an ultra lightweight carbon fiber Trek bike, clip-in shoes, and shirts from a friend who is a real-life iron woman. (http://www.irishtriathlon.com/index.php/2014/07/tamara-maxantovas-kona-qualification-report-from-ironman-austria/) Then I found myself trolling on YouTube and stumbled along this gem on how to wear bike shorts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hOcNoYchlI&feature=youtu.be). And so, Iza and I followed the wise words and went without knickers across 217.11 km of stunning scenery.

                                                             Gap of Danloe. Ring of Kerry.

Traveling is easy. And that’s something I should have reminded myself. There are always well-worn paths to follow and friendly locals to point you in the right direction. There are also always people who will stop to give you a lift. For instance, we sustained a bicycle injury (a broken chain) and despite the most heroic efforts to resuscitate it, we needed heavy-duty tools. And here entered a middle-aged English couple from the midlands who provided a lift to the nearest bike shop.

The challenging physical test I had hoped to meet ended up being pleasantly manageable. Perhaps the daily cycling and regular swimming, sport activities, and gym attendance helped? We easily covered around 70 kilometers each day, burning in total 5,641 calories each.

One of the most pleasant experiences of the trip was feeling that we were temporarily lifted out from Ireland. The weather was warm. The sun bronzed our skin (after burning mine first). We came across soft sand and beaches with turquoise water. Palm trees dotted the landscape along with colorful wildflowers that broke through the lush green. Magenta dangling bells, crimson and pink pendants, white fluffy saucers and yellow star-like petals that formed a wand. And of course, countryside hydrangeas of the most cheerful varieties.

Cycling from Killarney to Kenmare our first evening, we passed Ladies View and the National Forest as the summer sun was beginning to fall and a mist hovered among the rhododendrons that had just past their bloom. The goodnight song of the birds and fresh dewy forest air was revitalizing.


Day 1. Killerney-Kenmare.


Day 2. Kenmare - Ballinskellings.



Day 3. Ballinskellings-Glenbeigh.



Day 4. Glenbeigh-Killarney.


What would make cycling though the Ring of Kerry a 10 out of 10? Experiencing a well developed culinary tradition, bigger than a just your meal in a glass. We did have a pleasant dining experience at Rumours Café near Rossbeigh which served up muscles and lamb and Murphy’s salted ice cream in Killarney where we indulged in Dingle-gin and strawberry pleasures. But what about cycling though Champagne or Tuscany? This is all food for thought.

I will now travel by bike whenever possible, and hopefully, again with Iza. She makes for an incredible travel companion! Her tales of traveling across 7 continents kept me captivated and have inspired me to continue nurture my own enthusiasm for exploring. Seeing. Tasting. And challenging myself. 





Kenmare. Ring of Kerry.

 Sneem. Ring of Kerry.

Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

                                                      Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.


 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

                                                Kasia Szymańska. Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.


 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

 Derrynane/Caherdaniel. Ring of Kerry.

Bikes at the beach. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 Around Derrynane. Ring of Kerry.

 On the way to Waterville. Ring of Kerry. 

 On the way to Waterville. Ring of Kerry. 

Around Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Ballinskelligs. Skellig Ring.

Portmagee.

Kerry Cliffs, view from Valentia Island. 

                                                               On the way to Killarney.


 Killarney.



Written by Kasia Szymańska, veterinary student at UCD

While traveling getting a GOOD cup of coffee is like winning a lotto. Iza was addicted to coffee. Almond croissant and a cup of coffee is what she often dreamed of while cruising around in the world. It was her daily pleasure prior to traveling. However, post traveling she has landed in the right spot in the wrong place. Coffee house! YES. Dublin? NO. The good and the bad explains her balance, and caffeine keeps her going. Few days ago, Iza and Caterina, Iza's roommate, colleague and BFF, played around at Chemex Coffee in Dublin.

Caffeine high.  

I am thirsty.



While traveling getting a GOOD cup of coffee is like winning a lotto. Iza was addicted to coffee. Almond croissant and a cup of coffee is what she often dreamed of while cruising around in the world. It was her daily pleasure prior to traveling. However, post traveling she has landed in the right spot in the wrong place. Coffee house! YES. Dublin? NO. The good and the bad explains her balance, and caffeine keeps her going. Few days ago, Iza and Caterina, Iza's roommate, colleague and BFF, played around at Chemex Coffee in Dublin.

Caffeine high.  

I am thirsty.



ITALY

ITALY

YEY,  we are featured in Tripoto, a travel site where you can discover, share travel stories and ideas. It was nice to reminisce and answer some of these questions. (Click on the image to read on)




YEY,  we are featured in Tripoto, a travel site where you can discover, share travel stories and ideas. It was nice to reminisce and answer some of these questions. (Click on the image to read on)




Yes! I made it in time to see the beauty of this past winters craze. In India I only seen FB posts of how much this winter sucked in NY, but I secretly admired and wanted to come. The winter is over it's a meltdown, the snow is dripping down, the ice is cracking and the fog is raising. 

I am alone in silence and the beauty of this snow-white is making me say — I've missed this place.

Here are few shots to bring you here with me.











Yes! I made it in time to see the beauty of this past winters craze. In India I only seen FB posts of how much this winter sucked in NY, but I secretly admired and wanted to come. The winter is over it's a meltdown, the snow is dripping down, the ice is cracking and the fog is raising. 

I am alone in silence and the beauty of this snow-white is making me say — I've missed this place.

Here are few shots to bring you here with me.













I am two hours away from landing in Budapest, and I am super excited. Six months in India can be life changing, but quite demanding. I am ready for a strong shot of civilization. What exactly does that mean? I want to stand online without someone cutting me off, I want to have fresh salad, I want to go running, I want to walk down the street in privacy, I want to take a hot shower, I want to drink water from the tap, I want my kitchen. I don’t want a bindi on my forehead,  I don’t want to bargain for food, I don’t want to wake up to the smell of burning plastic, I don’t want to hear dogs barking all night, I don’t want to hear Indians forcefully clearing their throat, I don’t want a mouse eating my food, and I certainly don’t want any more ants chewing on my panties.

- India, for now I must leave, but don’t worry in October I plan to come back.

There is something about this place that makes people return, including myself. I traveled to 38 countries, yet India is the one that I gravitate towards the most. This time was my third time and who knows how many more times I will return.

One of my friends, who’s never been to India, can not believe that I would even want to go there in the first place. - The poverty, the people, the smell, the food, the hygiene - he kept the negative list rolling out of all the things he picked up from TV and the net.

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but how can you believe if you’ve never been?

To enjoy India you have to give it a chance, minimum one month or more. If it’s only two weeks you will most likely hate it. If you give yourself a couple of weeks for the hectic to become the norm, only then the inner bliss of India will shine through.

I can’t answer my friend why I keep returning. Amongst all the craze I find peace, a peace which allows me to go deeper in and connect with my being. Somehow India provides a perfect environment to slow down and reconnect with the self. Time is not an issue, daily routines don’t really exist, and the facilities for yoga, meditation and other spiritual activities are simply incomparable to the western money making establishments. Ok, maybe they are not so clean, and not so fancy looking but that’s all part of it, to find peace and depth within, you don’t need to look out.

India has the roads to spiritual awakening. It’s where a new journey for me began, where I realized that I am not my thoughts, I am not my body and not a long list of things I thought I was.. It’s here where God became so clear to me, and now I believe. How can I hate this place? Why wouldn’t I want to come back?

During my second time visiting India, I was walking to Mooji’s satsangs and it became so clear to me why India rocks. A rickshaw driver was driving on the ghats near the river Ganges, mid aged women were doing laundry in the water, visitors were doing a puja in the soapy water, a dog was eating dead goats’ corpses on the banks of the river and little kids were insisting that I buy flowers, all happening in the same time and place. There were no rules, no fines, simply survival and daily chores. It was then that I realized that in India you can be free, there is only one rule, the rule of nature, and no one else is there to tell you how to walk, when to walk and how much you should pay to walk. It’s the subtle freedom in the “unfree” India that makes it one of a kind. But there are many more things that makes India awesome, you simply need to be open and try to see things from a different perspective. Coming from a society with strict rules, where the grass is green and the social order is automatic, one can very easily learn to hate India. This is why you need time.

Aside from spirituality, the colors, the festive mentality and the wobbling head gestures are a must see. India will break you, teach you, scalp you and then most likely fix you. Don’t be afraid, don’t listen to the media, use your instinct and experience it for yourself. It can only be magic if you believe. There will be hate, there will be love but it’s the perfect balance to it all.

As I write this, I recall my first post Holy Cow Wow, when I first arrived to India and wow, there is definitely a change.



I am two hours away from landing in Budapest, and I am super excited. Six months in India can be life changing, but quite demanding. I am ready for a strong shot of civilization. What exactly does that mean? I want to stand online without someone cutting me off, I want to have fresh salad, I want to go running, I want to walk down the street in privacy, I want to take a hot shower, I want to drink water from the tap, I want my kitchen. I don’t want a bindi on my forehead,  I don’t want to bargain for food, I don’t want to wake up to the smell of burning plastic, I don’t want to hear dogs barking all night, I don’t want to hear Indians forcefully clearing their throat, I don’t want a mouse eating my food, and I certainly don’t want any more ants chewing on my panties.

- India, for now I must leave, but don’t worry in October I plan to come back.

There is something about this place that makes people return, including myself. I traveled to 38 countries, yet India is the one that I gravitate towards the most. This time was my third time and who knows how many more times I will return.

One of my friends, who’s never been to India, can not believe that I would even want to go there in the first place. - The poverty, the people, the smell, the food, the hygiene - he kept the negative list rolling out of all the things he picked up from TV and the net.

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but how can you believe if you’ve never been?

To enjoy India you have to give it a chance, minimum one month or more. If it’s only two weeks you will most likely hate it. If you give yourself a couple of weeks for the hectic to become the norm, only then the inner bliss of India will shine through.

I can’t answer my friend why I keep returning. Amongst all the craze I find peace, a peace which allows me to go deeper in and connect with my being. Somehow India provides a perfect environment to slow down and reconnect with the self. Time is not an issue, daily routines don’t really exist, and the facilities for yoga, meditation and other spiritual activities are simply incomparable to the western money making establishments. Ok, maybe they are not so clean, and not so fancy looking but that’s all part of it, to find peace and depth within, you don’t need to look out.

India has the roads to spiritual awakening. It’s where a new journey for me began, where I realized that I am not my thoughts, I am not my body and not a long list of things I thought I was.. It’s here where God became so clear to me, and now I believe. How can I hate this place? Why wouldn’t I want to come back?

During my second time visiting India, I was walking to Mooji’s satsangs and it became so clear to me why India rocks. A rickshaw driver was driving on the ghats near the river Ganges, mid aged women were doing laundry in the water, visitors were doing a puja in the soapy water, a dog was eating dead goats’ corpses on the banks of the river and little kids were insisting that I buy flowers, all happening in the same time and place. There were no rules, no fines, simply survival and daily chores. It was then that I realized that in India you can be free, there is only one rule, the rule of nature, and no one else is there to tell you how to walk, when to walk and how much you should pay to walk. It’s the subtle freedom in the “unfree” India that makes it one of a kind. But there are many more things that makes India awesome, you simply need to be open and try to see things from a different perspective. Coming from a society with strict rules, where the grass is green and the social order is automatic, one can very easily learn to hate India. This is why you need time.

Aside from spirituality, the colors, the festive mentality and the wobbling head gestures are a must see. India will break you, teach you, scalp you and then most likely fix you. Don’t be afraid, don’t listen to the media, use your instinct and experience it for yourself. It can only be magic if you believe. There will be hate, there will be love but it’s the perfect balance to it all.

As I write this, I recall my first post Holy Cow Wow, when I first arrived to India and wow, there is definitely a change.

Budapest, home away from home, where Toddies reunited and spent few sunny days, riding, laughing, dancing, and gasping what they have missed since their last meeting in Dublin. Check out a short video, Iza's creation, of few shots during out 2nd reunion. And if you like continue to Toddies fun facts about Budapest

Budapest, home away from home, where Toddies reunited and spent few sunny days, riding, laughing, dancing, and gasping what they have missed since their last meeting in Dublin. Check out a short video, Iza's creation, of few shots during out 2nd reunion. And if you like continue to Toddies fun facts about Budapest

Every late afternoon in Arambol Beach, Goa, a unique collection of the most interesting people gather to enjoy the sunset and dance to the improvising drummers. This is the place where hippies mingle, sing, dance and love.

The drumming circle gatherings were my favourite time in Goa. Most of the clips in the video were taken while sitting on the beach waiting for the sun to fade and complete the day.

Additional to the music, artist and creative people. There are many western vendors selling energy balls, strong coffee and hand made jewellery, along with occasional tarot card readers.

Wish you were there.


Every late afternoon in Arambol Beach, Goa, a unique collection of the most interesting people gather to enjoy the sunset and dance to the improvising drummers. This is the place where hippies mingle, sing, dance and love.

The drumming circle gatherings were my favourite time in Goa. Most of the clips in the video were taken while sitting on the beach waiting for the sun to fade and complete the day.

Additional to the music, artist and creative people. There are many western vendors selling energy balls, strong coffee and hand made jewellery, along with occasional tarot card readers.

Wish you were there.


Since I have been back to India, Rishikesh seems to be always the first place I visit. It's here were my spiritual path began and it's here where I feel home away from home. Rishikesh is considered the yoga capital of the world, many knowledgeable yogis reside here and share their knowledge. It's a place one should definitely visit when coming to India. If it's not for yoga or other spirituality then one can come for its beauty, its energy, the Ganga, and the singing hippies on the ghats. Best time to visit is October to April. See you there, but if you don't have the time, check out the video for a sneak preview of Holy Rishikesh in 2 minutes. Feel free to share. Thanks to all the people and scenery for making the video.


Since I have been back to India, Rishikesh seems to be always the first place I visit. It's here were my spiritual path began and it's here where I feel home away from home. Rishikesh is considered the yoga capital of the world, many knowledgeable yogis reside here and share their knowledge. It's a place one should definitely visit when coming to India. If it's not for yoga or other spirituality then one can come for its beauty, its energy, the Ganga, and the singing hippies on the ghats. Best time to visit is October to April. See you there, but if you don't have the time, check out the video for a sneak preview of Holy Rishikesh in 2 minutes. Feel free to share. Thanks to all the people and scenery for making the video.



The sun is shinning, birds are chirping, crows are crowing, bells are ringing, bees are pollinating and I, Aga, am crying.

Noble silence is active in Dhamma Giri’s main Pagoda, I am sitting still in the second row, surrounded by 150 indian women of all ages. A 70 year old woman from Tamil Nadu is sitting to my left and a young college girl is sitting to my right. I can’t help myself, tears are rolling down and I don’t even know why. Are all my suffering, sorrows are clearing out? Or did I just realise that I have no control over my mind’s reactions. 

My conditioned mind has been living my life for me. Embedded childhood traumas and conditions created who I identify as I, Aga. I get angry, I avert, I am happy, I crave. All life I have been living in the past or future, craving or averting. Without realising how much misery it has created over the years. As Goenka* says, deep sankharas, the imprints of experiences that form the habit patterns of the mind.

I am a happy kid, I would say. I never felt any need for improvements in my life, according to my mind I never suffer, I am not miserable. Perhaps because my mind has lead me on. It wants to feel pleasant sensations always and forever. 

So why am I crying? What is crying? Is it because I am training my mind to cooperate and instead? Its a toggle war.

I operate by using my senses, we have 5 or 6 senses depending what book you read. The eyes that see, the ears that hear, the nose that smells, touch that feels, the tongue that tastes and maybe I am missing one more there, but you get the gist. Using my senses is how my mind connects the dots of what’s happening and my unconscious reacts with craving or aversion. 

A double dutch chocolate  cake will make me crave. A piercing sound would make me avert, the pleasant smell of jasmine flowers will make…. and the list goes on. This is how my mind differentiates between what I normally call good or bad. My mind’s reactions to these sensations sculpt who I think I am. But what if there was no good or bad? What if the feeling of love and pain was the same? What if the smell of jasmine flowers or dog shit was the same. How would my mind operate then. Who would I be? Will I float in the universe without any opinion? Would I live a hippie life and feed on berries? Or perhaps, I might just be liberated from creating a fiction world that I project onto others. 

You ever smelled someone’s perfume and wondered why in the world they sprayed this stuff on? - Oh lady, you need to wash yourself, this perfume smells straight up like an ass crack! - meanwhile she is feeling like a million dollars.

But in reality, the smell whether pleasant or foul is just a smell. The taste whether delicious or disgusting is just a taste. What about the color pink? How does it make you feel. Take notice, not to the reaction, but feel the subtle sensations that your senses create. 

It’s all the same.

The first thing that David, my boyfriend said when he came out of his second Vipassana retreat - The feeling of pleasure and pain is the same, it’s all made of the same material.

- When my 10 year relationship ended with my ex, I was laying in bed and felt this feeling, the very same feeling that I felt when I fell in love. It was then that I realised, that the two sensations had no difference. - Said Nina a 15 year Vipassana meditator, who I met in India.  

A young girl gets raped, this deep sankhara is embedded in her for life. She has managed all her life to cope with this sensation and this reflects in all her actions. She might never want to have sex again, or she might be the highest paid porn star in Hollywood, or there might be a completely unrelated action, which is how her mind coped with the rape, and she keeps repeating it. It is her deep sankhara, that is directing her actions.

- I am never upset for the reasons I think I am. - Said Eckhart Tolle

So why are addicts addicts? What made my mother smoke for most of her life, knowing that this is slowly killing her. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs all put you in a certain state, to which your mind associates the feeling of pleasure, and you crave for more. Or the opposite, you had a bad experience and you will avert.

I am crying because my mind is going though a deep surgical operation, and it simply does not like it. I am training my mind not to react to pleasant or painful sensations and to remain equanimous. I am sitting for an hour without movement with pain in my knee, which is a gross sensation, I ignore my feeling of aversion. I simply acknowledge the present moment and observe as the sensation dissolves. This is how all things happen. Anicca, anicca, anicaa. Change, change, change. All things change and never remain the same. All feelings or sensations, they all change. So if I remain equanimous, I will not create new sankharas and the old ones will surface and dissolve.

The first step is to realise that craving and aversion is all derived from your five - or six - senses, which your mind categorises into good and bad. Second step is to be aware of the current sensations they create, and third step is to be equanimous and not react to them. These three steps will guide you to liberation and a happy hippie life. 

Vipassana is a ten day silent meditation where you meditate for ten hours a day. Your mind, the wild beast, goes under a deep surgical operation. Goenkaji guides you each day deeper into a technique that digs into your mind and its habit patterns. It’s a technique which will make you aware what makes you tick and react. The main difference between Vipassana and other meditation techniques, is that it not only calms your mind to stillness, but it also makes deep stuff resurface and with time, dissolve. 

It’s one of the hardest things I have done in my life and one of the most rewarding experiences on this journey. In the ten days I learned a technique which trains my mind not to react with craving or aversion that leads to my unconscious misery. I did not become liberated from all my sufferings, I am not yet enlightened and I might not be in this life time. I have learned a golden tool invented by the Buddha, passed down through generations from teacher to teacher. With practice and patience day-by-day, I am closer to step out of the wheel of suffering.

Perhaps I will not look for imperfections or perfections and accept beings and things for what they are. Perhaps the smell of flowers or sewers will just bring me to recognise my presence. Perhaps all sounds will create music in my ears and perhaps a touch will bring me to the present moment. Because reality is, you and I only live in this present moment.

As I sit and observe my body sensations my tears have stopped, and a feeling of vibration has taken over my body, yet another sensation has arisen. I feel light. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.– Goenka 

Sign up for Vipassna Meditation! Become Liberated.

Individual meditation cells

View from my residency

Pogoda

Goenka's residency

This is one of the biggest centres in India, where Goenka spent most of his time.

=======================================================================

*Mr. S.N. Goenka- is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.
The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka's approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.
=======================================================================

The sun is shinning, birds are chirping, crows are crowing, bells are ringing, bees are pollinating and I, Aga, am crying.

Noble silence is active in Dhamma Giri’s main Pagoda, I am sitting still in the second row, surrounded by 150 indian women of all ages. A 70 year old woman from Tamil Nadu is sitting to my left and a young college girl is sitting to my right. I can’t help myself, tears are rolling down and I don’t even know why. Are all my suffering, sorrows are clearing out? Or did I just realise that I have no control over my mind’s reactions. 

My conditioned mind has been living my life for me. Embedded childhood traumas and conditions created who I identify as I, Aga. I get angry, I avert, I am happy, I crave. All life I have been living in the past or future, craving or averting. Without realising how much misery it has created over the years. As Goenka* says, deep sankharas, the imprints of experiences that form the habit patterns of the mind.

I am a happy kid, I would say. I never felt any need for improvements in my life, according to my mind I never suffer, I am not miserable. Perhaps because my mind has lead me on. It wants to feel pleasant sensations always and forever. 

So why am I crying? What is crying? Is it because I am training my mind to cooperate and instead? Its a toggle war.

I operate by using my senses, we have 5 or 6 senses depending what book you read. The eyes that see, the ears that hear, the nose that smells, touch that feels, the tongue that tastes and maybe I am missing one more there, but you get the gist. Using my senses is how my mind connects the dots of what’s happening and my unconscious reacts with craving or aversion. 

A double dutch chocolate  cake will make me crave. A piercing sound would make me avert, the pleasant smell of jasmine flowers will make…. and the list goes on. This is how my mind differentiates between what I normally call good or bad. My mind’s reactions to these sensations sculpt who I think I am. But what if there was no good or bad? What if the feeling of love and pain was the same? What if the smell of jasmine flowers or dog shit was the same. How would my mind operate then. Who would I be? Will I float in the universe without any opinion? Would I live a hippie life and feed on berries? Or perhaps, I might just be liberated from creating a fiction world that I project onto others. 

You ever smelled someone’s perfume and wondered why in the world they sprayed this stuff on? - Oh lady, you need to wash yourself, this perfume smells straight up like an ass crack! - meanwhile she is feeling like a million dollars.

But in reality, the smell whether pleasant or foul is just a smell. The taste whether delicious or disgusting is just a taste. What about the color pink? How does it make you feel. Take notice, not to the reaction, but feel the subtle sensations that your senses create. 

It’s all the same.

The first thing that David, my boyfriend said when he came out of his second Vipassana retreat - The feeling of pleasure and pain is the same, it’s all made of the same material.

- When my 10 year relationship ended with my ex, I was laying in bed and felt this feeling, the very same feeling that I felt when I fell in love. It was then that I realised, that the two sensations had no difference. - Said Nina a 15 year Vipassana meditator, who I met in India.  

A young girl gets raped, this deep sankhara is embedded in her for life. She has managed all her life to cope with this sensation and this reflects in all her actions. She might never want to have sex again, or she might be the highest paid porn star in Hollywood, or there might be a completely unrelated action, which is how her mind coped with the rape, and she keeps repeating it. It is her deep sankhara, that is directing her actions.

- I am never upset for the reasons I think I am. - Said Eckhart Tolle

So why are addicts addicts? What made my mother smoke for most of her life, knowing that this is slowly killing her. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs all put you in a certain state, to which your mind associates the feeling of pleasure, and you crave for more. Or the opposite, you had a bad experience and you will avert.

I am crying because my mind is going though a deep surgical operation, and it simply does not like it. I am training my mind not to react to pleasant or painful sensations and to remain equanimous. I am sitting for an hour without movement with pain in my knee, which is a gross sensation, I ignore my feeling of aversion. I simply acknowledge the present moment and observe as the sensation dissolves. This is how all things happen. Anicca, anicca, anicaa. Change, change, change. All things change and never remain the same. All feelings or sensations, they all change. So if I remain equanimous, I will not create new sankharas and the old ones will surface and dissolve.

The first step is to realise that craving and aversion is all derived from your five - or six - senses, which your mind categorises into good and bad. Second step is to be aware of the current sensations they create, and third step is to be equanimous and not react to them. These three steps will guide you to liberation and a happy hippie life. 

Vipassana is a ten day silent meditation where you meditate for ten hours a day. Your mind, the wild beast, goes under a deep surgical operation. Goenkaji guides you each day deeper into a technique that digs into your mind and its habit patterns. It’s a technique which will make you aware what makes you tick and react. The main difference between Vipassana and other meditation techniques, is that it not only calms your mind to stillness, but it also makes deep stuff resurface and with time, dissolve. 

It’s one of the hardest things I have done in my life and one of the most rewarding experiences on this journey. In the ten days I learned a technique which trains my mind not to react with craving or aversion that leads to my unconscious misery. I did not become liberated from all my sufferings, I am not yet enlightened and I might not be in this life time. I have learned a golden tool invented by the Buddha, passed down through generations from teacher to teacher. With practice and patience day-by-day, I am closer to step out of the wheel of suffering.

Perhaps I will not look for imperfections or perfections and accept beings and things for what they are. Perhaps the smell of flowers or sewers will just bring me to recognise my presence. Perhaps all sounds will create music in my ears and perhaps a touch will bring me to the present moment. Because reality is, you and I only live in this present moment.

As I sit and observe my body sensations my tears have stopped, and a feeling of vibration has taken over my body, yet another sensation has arisen. I feel light. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.– Goenka 

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Individual meditation cells

View from my residency

Pogoda

Goenka's residency

This is one of the biggest centres in India, where Goenka spent most of his time.

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*Mr. S.N. Goenka- is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.
The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka's approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.
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