Now my legs hurt. Badly. And my nose feels a little like it might explode, and just when all my attention was focused on it, I have to switch to an even smaller area just beneath it and try to feel subtle sensations ranging across my upper lip. This takes most of the day to accomplish (that’s ten count ’em TEN hours of sitting upper lip gazing). I am in quite a bit of pain and have to switch positions every couple of minutes.
One of the odd things I am noticing about the course is that all of the training is via played cassettes of Goenka himself. Group meditations (there are three a day) start with Goenka chanting and end with Goenka chanting, and are filled with the soporific sounds of Goenka’s calm, controlled voice imploring us to “Start with a calm and attentive mind…patient and persistent…” The teachers hardly say or do anything except sit in the front of the hall and meditate along with us. In addition, the hall is set up in a slightly odd way: All of the students arranged on our assigned mats (mine is number 94 btw), and the teachers are in the front on either side of a stage. On the stage are two white mini thrones of a sort. From the nightly DVD discourses, I can tell that these are meant to be occupied by Goenka himself on the left and his (one assumes) wife on the right (who in the DVDs never seems anything but bored, vacant, or irritated with her husband’s rambling about “Dhamma”).
That night in the discourse we learn that what we have been doing for the first three days is not, in fact, vipassana meditation, but a necessary precursor to it. We needed to have calm minds and sharpened awareness. On day 4, we are told we will begin vipassana training in earnest.