Meditation Nightmare – Traveling In India

Will my back, legs and thighs ever be the same again?

After 10 days of sitting with my legs tucked under me, thighs spread apart, back ramrod stiff and listening to a neurologically challenged old man drone on and on, I doubt it very much.

Welcome to the world of the meditation centre - or more aptly the world of the reform centre. Actually, the western prison system could base their whole programs and ethos on a mediation centre. No one in their right mind would re-commit and face a sentence in this regime.

The tinkling of a bell incessantly was the wake-up call at 4.00am and that little bell ended up sounding like a police siren. The first session started at 4.30am either in the hall or our rooms called appropriately "cells". I never did get to see how many turned up at 4.30. After 2 hours the inmates progressed to breakfast- wow, glued up porridge, some other type of Indian stodge, brown bread and "chai" and this choice didn't change for 10 days. The breakfast was an indication of my bowels; they were a good reflection of the state of my experiences- clogged and uncomfortable.

Back to meditation at 8.00 for 1 hour and then onto a further 2 hours. Somehow 11.00 o'clock was construed to be lunch time, this was the only meal of the day and not too bad. A couple of hours of rest and then back to the hall for hours of meditation, back-ache, boredom and thoughts of "what the hell am I doing here?"

The neurologically challenged man droned over speakers at the beginning and end of each session. His constant repetition of words and phrases was unnerving and his favorites' were "Observe! Observe! Observe!", "You are bound to be successful, you are bound to be successful; you are bound to be successful", ad nauseum. Well I had news for him, because as soon as I heard his voice, I completely switched off and thought of a soft bed, good food, anything to get my mind out of there.

At 5.00pm it was yummy tea-time - dry rice bubbles with a sprinkling of peanuts, a piece of fruit and "chai". This was it until 6.30 the next morning. It is surprising how much you look forward to this weird tea; I suppose it was the chance to sit on a chair and to break the monotony of the day.

My fellow 170 inmates were a mixed crowd from the anorexic, glazed-eyed spiritual seekers, to the everyday Indian housewife. There is a strict segregation of the sexes and I wondered if the presence of women in the hall may have stopped the endless burping, farting, yawning and snoring of the Indian women. The couple of Korean girls looked mortified at each explosion and I threw dirty looks at the offenders, but to no avail. They mostly had their eyes closed in presumed meditation, oblivious to their uncouthness.

There was strictly no speaking, "noble silence", it was called. Well I reckon that was in place for fear the complaints would be overwhelming and in my case the mockery of the "teacher".

I was very pleased not to be paying for this agony and mind games. I paid only for my expenses and certainly did not give a donation; this place should not be encouraged! There must be many people who do approve though, as the infrastructure was impressive and the usual grand plan for the golden temple was drawn up, ready for the gullible to give their money for the glorification of the "teacher" and not the fundamental benefits of the mediation technique.

Sue Gibbins
Long time traveler in the Far East. For more traveling information goes to
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