The morning actually starts out quite well. In these sessions (in my cell and in the main hall) I find I am able to start to evaluate my sensations with a little more distance and I feel that I am making progress. At lunch I catch a glimpse of my friend Shumona walking to the women’s cafeteria. We cast a subtle knowing glance at each other and I feel elated. This is the most human acknowlegment I have had here and I am floating on air.
Then I somehow lose focus in the afternoon and find myself unable to concentrate on anything.
The day turns sour with building resentments of all kinds, starting with 218 and 112. Those are the mat numbers of the two most flatulent people I have ever seen in my life. 218 is, simply put, a pig. He turns his head to the side and lets out the LOUDEST burps at least 10 times per hour. In between, and just to show us how versatile he is, he leans his whole rear-end up from his mat a few inches and farts from time to time. 112, on the other hand, seems to be practicing a different form of continuous meditation that involves marathon low level belching. Can I be the only one that is noticing this?
In addition, I am starting to feel a little trapped by my 10 day commitment, and start to think about ways to escape. Who are they to tell me I have to be here the entire 10 days? This technique isn’t working. I feel pain. I feel resentment. In particular, I am really developing a strong aversion to Goenka’s chanting, which reminds me slightly of the cantors and rabbi’s singing in the synagogue of my childhood, only mixed with raspy morning throat sounds of someone who smokes and drinks way too much. The cult of personality around this guy also weighs on me, and this is starting to seem too much like a religion, especially with all his talk about ending the cycle of rebirth (heaven by another name if you ask me, definitely a religious article of faith).
Back in my room that evening, I start to feel that my breathing is difficult and can’t seem to catch my breath. I feel trapped. This seems like early stage panic attack (and I haven’t had one of those in years. OK, Bangkok, but that was special).