April 21, 2013 - Travel is about experience, mostly about meeting new people, cultures, eating unidentifiable food and enjoying a different slice of life than what you are used to. Yes, there are great motorcycle roads too and fantastic pictures to be taken here and there. Sometimes a deep conversation with a complete stranger for hours on end.
All of that came to a screeching halt on April 10th, when I found myself locked up in solitary confinement for ten days at Dhamma Malaya. For ten days all my choices were taken away from me, I was fed and watered at set times, told how and where to sit, when to wash and most importantly, not to say a word during the whole ordeal. Wakeup calls were at 4:00 AM, lights out at 9:30 PM. We were forced to watch a re-education video for about an hour every day too. Wearily my fellow prisoners and I looked around in silence, no doubt wondering what we had gotten ourselves into this time.
My cell block, Q5, was in the middle of the lot and the guy next to me snored like Caterpillar out of control, so I got little sleep.
Granted, this was all a self-inflicted process as I'd always wanted to do a ten day "sit", ten days of quiet meditation, just to see what it would do.
Dhamma Malaya is probably one of the nicer places on earth to do a ten Vipassana meditation course. Although sitting and meditating for eleven hours a day is not everyone's cup of tea, it does give you time to get away from the world and be with yourself. Did I mention you had to surrender all your worldly goods upon entry?
Although there were some slight hints of "religion", there wasn't a Buddha statue to be found in the whole complex and the focus is entirely on meditation and the Vipassana technique. It was an experience for sure and I learned a few things along the way. For one, I can now sit in complete silence without moving a muscle and having a single thought for at least an hour.
With an even emptier mind than I went in, I was however glad to get back on the bike and suffer the deafening clatter of the valves as I rode off into the real world.