i remember arriving at the vipassana center and discovering i had a roommate. i truly did not want one. in fact, before turning in my electronics,
sharing a room was one of the roughly 479 vipassana-related issues i cried about on the phone to a friend.
i knew it was a possibility and i could have requested a single, but i didn’t want to go into vipassana making a fuss. i wanted to let things take their course. if i’m supposed to have a roommate i’ll have one. if not, no. it was quaint, zen concept, but increasingly difficult to stick with as the course drew nearer.
“roommate?” i asked, dazed, interrupting the volunteer’s orientation. she pointed to the dormitory map featuring two little beds in the room to which i was assigned. then i couldn’t process anything else.
you know how people say after hearing bad news their senses shut down and noises turn to buzzing? it was precisely like this for me. of course, those people are generally referring to devastating, life-altering information, but to me, in that moment, this qualified.
but i knew i was being spoken to and to avoid crying before the course even began, i focused on smiling and nodding as if i understood everything she said.
why, for the love of God, would i, or anyone on earth want to live in silence with a stranger for 10 days? why didn’t i protect myself from this? i wondered as i trudged through the freezing desert to my room.
in one of my pre-vipassana posts i wrote, “i’ll feel better once i see where i’m sleeping.” did any of you really believe it would end there? not me!
never, because even before i saw my bed my mind was shifting forward.
now i need to see who this roommate character is. then we can begin.
i saw this happen. i practically watched my mind leap ahead in space.
but, and this is crucial, instead of letting my imagination run wild, i almost laughed.
then what, Julia? you’ll require a pony? and after that? it never ends. if you follow those thoughts and live in the future your mind will lead you down a path as complex as the route the marble takes in the most impossible-to-assemble, let alone play, 90s board game, mousetrap.
so yes, don't get caught, but don't even play the game. learn to notice the mental maze and leap over it entirely.
as a side note, my vipassana roommate is fantastic. we hit it off before noble silence began, survived like champs, and have gone hiking together since returning to LA. which, in the hierarchy of los angeles friendship activities, is pretty high on the totem pole. because while everyone goes hiking, you don’t go hiking just with anyone.