Friday, April 19, 2019

Stepping Into Vipassana: The Admission Process (An Introduction)

Sometimes you need to take a break from everyone and spend time alone,
to experience, appreciate and love yourself.

― Robert Tew.

----------------------------------------- **** -----------------------------------------

It’s been close to a month since the completion of my 10 day course in Vipassana and looking back now, I feel amazed (actually, somewhat amused) at the sequence of events that led me to mustering up the courage of taking it up – and from taking it up I mean not just doing the course for those 10 days but also, more so, about the period where I, in fact, felt the urge to fill up the form, then contemplating on whether this was something I could really do, and then taking that final step – of actually doing it!

How / Where Did It All Start?

So, it all started with one random email that I received exactly during this time, one year back. The email was from Vipassana’s PR executive inviting me to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda in Gorai, one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra, and a symbol of peace and harmony.

Having visited the Pagoda already once, thanks to no one else but my father, I was intrigued by the invitation and though I put it in the backburner for sometime later, the invite never did go out of my mind.

As they say, life is a journey.

And, the things we feel (having completed the course now, I will just call them as Guruji called it… sensations) as a result of the ‘unknown, unseen, outside forces’ operating in our life --- these sensations are nothing but roadmaps in our journey towards a better, healthier, happy life and when acknowledged, recognized and seen, as they are, for what they are, we are propelled to taking the necessary action to expand our boundaries and step out of our comfort zones for our own higher good.

And so sometime in September last year, when I’d feel the intense heat of one such sensation, this invite came to the fore of my mind and planted a tiny seed called Vipassanā (or Vipaśyanā).

Stepping In An Unknown Territory.

Nourished by curiosity, the seed germinated a little in the month of December 2018, when I filled their online form answering questions ranging from my personal to work profile to the condition of my medical status in a bid to secure admission in one of their 10 day long ‘Executive Course’ to be held in the month of March 2019.

Then, I hadn’t the slightest of clue of what I was entering into, of what the technique of Vipassana was about or how (or if!) these 10 days were going to have any impact on my life. What I did know was that it had something to do with meditation / yoga and that I had to completely be cut off digitally and physically for those 10 days – from everyone I knew.

Almost everything else was unknown… unknown… and yet known, and somewhat familiar in some inexplicable way.

Perhaps, it was this very understanding of stepping into an unknown territory that had captivated my attention in the first place such that I’d filled the form the very first thing in the morning on the day registrations for the March course had opened.

This Journey Is Yours… And It is All Alone.

I asked people in my family if anyone wished to accompany but no one came forward citing one reason or the other, not even my father (who I was secretly hoping would) – this heightened my hesitation a bit but despite the hesitation, I settled on going forward with it, alone.

Around 20 days later after submitting the form, I received an email which came with an added CTA. The CTA required me to confirm my attendance for the course within the next 10 days since there were many people who were waiting in the queue.

The CTA popped open a few questions that loomed right in my face:

What if there's a sudden travel plan popping up at that time?
What if I fall ill or one of my family members?
What if there's an unforeseen unavoidable circumstance
due to which it is impossible to go for the course?

and, the biggest of them all -
Was I really prepared to face this kind of a challenge?

Armed with all my whats and hows, I got down to getting a better idea of what I was entering into, by doing what I have known best – Research and introspection.

Though I am not new to the concept of spirituality, consciousness, energy and awareness - partly due to the impact of the environment of my own upbringing, partly due to my short stint in Brahmakumaris and partly because of my own interest in the field - yet, enrolling for Vipassana meant bundling all the factors together and taking them to an entirely different, a whole new level.

I skimmed through a couple of articles on the internet only to be more intrigued by the experiences that I came across.

Eventually, after trying my best to find some reason to say no and not finding any, on the 8th day, I went ahead with my confirmation.

There was still plenty of time for the course to begin, and there was no way to certainly know if I would be able to attend it or not at this time. Moreover, I didn't want to back out after filling up the form in the first place.

The pile of all my what-if's crumbled down to just one important question - what is the worst that could happen? And for that - I was always free to cancel it at a later stage. 

Goodbye, World.

Just 5 days before the course was to begin, I received a phone call asking me if I was coming. It was decision time and it sent my mind into a frenzy once again: A part of me wanted to go, a part of me resisted.

Don't defer any longer, GO!

... beeped a message from a blogger friend on my phone when I aired my unsure-ty with her and her words gave to the part of me which resisted the much needed motivational boost.

God-sent, she was!

After battling some moments over my yes, no and maybe… I finally confirmed my attendance two days later.

** Looking back, I can't really point a finger as to what really made me go ahead with the confirmation, but there was certainly more than what met the eye - there was this strange pull, a gentle kind of pull, mild, never forceful, but still a pull, that needed to be acknowledged and honored with some healthy action.

This particular moment, the moment when I FINALLY committed to attending the course, that moment ... I was ecstatic! I felt free, the nervous undercurrents disappearing miraculously in thin air and a whiff of fresh air filling up my entire being.

While my brother mulled over his own concerns of my complete disconnectedness and lack of other significant amenities (no mobile, no reading, no writing, no TV and no internet connection), I was already glued to reading the instructions for the course, making a check list of all the items that needed to be packed and of my doubts that had to be cleared with the management. 

The countdown to an exciting adventure, had just... begun!

(... to be continued)


If you like to register for one of these courses at Gorai Village, Pagoda, Mumbai, here's the link:

Go through the schedule page, and mark the course which you're interested in and take note of when the registration window for it opens.

Register as early as possible to secure your seat without any hassle as queues to register for the course are long.

Be absolutely honest with your answers to avoid being rejected for the course.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

6 Incredible Destinations That Can Be Visited from Split, Croatia.

Split is a coastal town in Croatia and a popular destination for tourists to pick their accommodations in. If you’re visiting Croatia and you’re staying at a hotel in the city, here are six incredible destinations that you can visit via private tours Split, Croatia:

Split, Croatia

1. Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a forest reserve in central Croatia that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is located 243 kilometers from the town of Split, and it will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes by car to get there. However, the trip is incredibly worth it. Plitvice Lakes National Park is known around the world for its sixteen lakes that are interconnected by a series of waterfalls. All of the lakes are filled with clear aquamarine water, and the entire reserve is home to luscious green forests and diverse flora and fauna. During the summer, it’s a beautiful place to visit to go swimming, boating, and hiking.

2. Krka National Park.

Krka National Park

Krka National Park can be found in southern Croatia, along the Krka River. It is known for several tourist spots, including Skradisnki Buk, a series of waterfalls that cascade one after the other. The tallest of these waterfalls is 39 feet. Aside from Skradisnki Buk, tourists are also intrigued by the Visovac Monastery in the national park, which is located in a tiny island in the middle of a huge lake. Today, this historical Franciscan building has a restaurant where you can dine and a museum where you can find religious relics and artifacts.

Other points of interest inside Krka National Park include the early Croatian fortresses of Trosenj and Necven, the Sibenik Bridge, and Cikola River. Krka National Park is about 85 kilometers from Split, Croatia, which is about a 90-minute car drive.

3. Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Known as the pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a small coastal city in southern Croatia. Its location gives it great access to the Adriatic Sea, but the view of the water isn’t its only selling point. Dubrovnik is brimming with history and architecture that dates back to the middle ages. As you stroll along Old Town, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time. In fact, because of its historical architecture, the popular HBO show Game of Thrones has filmed in certain locations around the city. If you’re a fan of the series, you will have a blast recreating scenes in the places where the actors actually shot them. Dubrovnik is a three-hour drive from Split, Croatia. You need to travel about 235 kilometers to get to the city, but the history, architecture, and the chance to recreate Game of Thrones scenes will make it all worth it.

4. Hvar, Hvar Island.

Hvar, Hvar Island, Croatia.

Hvar is an old town in an Adriatic island with the same name. It is about 53 kilometers from Split, Croatia, and you will have to travel for an hour and a half, including a ferry ride, to get here. But if you do travel to this island town, you won’t regret it. It is stunning as an ecotourism destination, but it is also rich in historical significance. When in Hvar, visit St. Stephen’s square, home of the 16th-century cathedral from which it was named after. You should also visit Spanjola Fortress, a hilltop fortress that will give you panoramic views of the town, the island, and the sea. Hvar is also close to other islands in the Adriatic Sea, which makes it a great stop if you want to go island hopping.

5. Bol, Brac Island.

Sailing towards Bol, Brac Island.

Bol is a town in the island of Brac that is most popular for its windsurfing destination, Golden Horn beach. Aside from this white sand beach, you should also hike to Vidova Gora, the highest peak on the island and all of the Adriatic islands, to have the best view of the surrounding natural scenery and the aquamarine water that surrounds it. Or if you want to have a taste delicious local wine, stop by Stina Winery on the island to do so. Bol is a two-hour trip from Split, Croatia. It requires a ferry ride to travel 53.4 kilometers to this town.

6. Blue Cave, Bisevo Island.

Blue Cave is located in the small island of Bisevo in the Adriatic Sea. It got its name from the blue light that illuminates the interior of the cave when sunlight shines through the aquamarine water of the sea and then bounces off its white limestone floors and walls. Its an enchanting experience to explore the cave and something that you shouldn’t miss. Typically, island hopping tours in this area include a boat ride to the cave, but a private tour may give you more time to appreciate this natural wonder.

From interconnected lakes to magical caves, Game of Thrones sets, fortress-like towns, windsurfing, and hiking, Croatia is a tourist destination filled with adventures that are waiting for you to experience. In your next visit to Split, Croatia, partake in these exciting adventures!

------------------------------------------ **** ------------------------------------------

About the Author: Hannah is an avid traveler who is based in New York City and has visited more than 75+ countries. She fell head over heels in love with Croatia during her first visit to Split back in 2010 and has spent just about every summer in the city ever since.