7. Vipassana. The Past < ? > the Future

by HelluvaGirl

Disclaimer: This is a personal experience of a novice in Vipassana, presented as a series of insights, not an attempt to render advice or explain the technique in full extent, and should not be taken as guidance or a comprehensive course report. 


As I sit in the meditation hall for hours and hours each day, I notice that the leg of the stool between my shoulder blades begins to feel different. The blunt pain inhabiting the depths inside my muscles surfaces on the skin and starts feeling like my back is seared with a lighter. This pain is on my outline, not at my core any more, and I can even find a certain pleasure in that physical sensation.

It is leaving me!

I have less work trying to deal with the pain. I have also learnt to count time in eternities. It goes like this: an eternity passes, I look at my watch – it says five minutes. I glance at the watch after something that feels like another eternity – five minutes again. So now, every time it feels like I have sat there forever, I can also know how much time has passed in human terms. One eternity, two eternities…

And then memories emerge.

Of course, there’s the usual menu: my parents, my sister, Best Friend, the Woman I Love, Girlfriend, past lovers, distant relatives, Friend, childhood memories, Mother Grandmother, Pia’s Father, Mrs. Nielsen, work, the Nuthouse, my child…

I also think about the multiple one-night stand I’ve fallen in love with. I think about him most of the time.

But there are things that come back to me as if out of nowhere. And they don’t come back alone.

There is a heavy trail of muted feelings they drag onto me like a dark and dusty velvet curtain.




I have done terrible things in my life; I have hurt and disappointed people beyond repair. I have left when I was supposed to stay, and I thought about me first when I ought to have taken care of others. I was too broken to bring any human kindness, for many eternities.

All this scorches me from the inside worse than any muscle pain, until a day comes when suddenly, with a random intake of air, I wake up.

Coming to Vipassana, I was sort of expecting to have a major breakthrough. Like a lightning in my brain that will transform me drastically.

What I found out, was that Vipassana would make a great impact on me, but in a very different way. No lightning, no quitting jobs for volunteering in Indonesia.

You know like when people tell you simple truths but they sound like a quote from a book? And then one day a lightbulb turns on above your head, and you say that old truth out loud, and it’s an epiphany. Same thing you may have repeated thousands of times, but you tried to inject it like a medicine someone else has prescribed.

It only works when you give birth to it. From the inside.

Stop. Wait. What are you doing? This is your past, it is gone. Forever. It is not here any more. What are you trying to do, shredding your heart to pieces over something that isn’t here? It’s done, that’s it! Leave it there – not deny it or try to forget, but let it be.

Same shit goes for the things that are not here yet. Why do you want to preempt every possible outcome of every single interaction you have in life? Why do you torture yourself with the effort to make “the right” decision? Remember what you asked the Teacher about preparing for the next day’s meditation when you wouldn’t be allowed to move, like what you should do to be more ready. Remember what he said – don’t worry about it today, it’s not tomorrow yet. 

But where are you, then? Spilling acid on yourself for the worst things you’ve ever done or replaying future scenarios of failure. Where are you? What part of you lives with the things, people and events that actually matter? 

That’s it. May sound like a bad copy of something you’ve read before but it doesn’t matter. I know it has been said because it had been experienced. However, this concept is now mine. It unchains me from a deep-seated certitude I must forever go back and replay my past as a form of payback. It leaves me at ease with whatever is coming – because what can I do? Things are going to happen.