I always wondered what it would be like a day without talking and social media and since I always want to do vipassana, opportunity knocked the door during paryushan. As I love to experiment, an idea crossed my mind which combined both the ideals. So I decided to do the following for 8 days of paryushan;
- Ekasana -Eat only once in a day sitting at one place and drink only boiled water. After sunset can’t drink water until after sunrise next day.
- Maun Vrat (vow of silence) – Can’t TALK, can’t ENACT and can’t WRITE .
- No facebook and whatsapp – Can’t write, see, chat, etc. means not using it at all. (rules defined by me)
Seemed really enticing at start but difficult for girl like me who loves to talk and who’s always around watsapp and facebook like a bee is to flower.Above all eating once a day was a bit more challenging since it’s difficult to stay hungry for a foodie. I began on this journey with permission of my closed ones; by not giving it much of a thought about how it would be or whether I will be able to complete all the three above for 8days or not.
Let me remind you, the above things were not done as a part of religious explorations but as a matter of a spiritual experience.
A little experiment with oneself, to test self control and my 8 days encounters.
First day, closed ones enquired “you sure you wanna do this?” and I said yes “yes certainly, after all there’s no harm in trying” and then they showed me the green flag. “Yup, certainly no harm in giving it a try” was my motto for the first day. Then I saw fb and watsapp for the last time and bid them goodbye for 8 days.
At home, things went smooth the first day. At office, people who greeted were greeted back with a smile, as I didn’t want them to know about it and I managed pretty well that day.
Around 8pm my head started aching with hunger causing me to sleep early that day.
I was finding it difficult to stay hungry, wanted to speak and my hands were fidgeting to check watsapp and fb. Again I resisted the urge although partially as I checked fb and watsapp once but didn’t reply anyone back.
After the afternoon nap, I left for office where another challenge awaited for me. One of the trainee in office enquired and asked “m’am, when are yours paryushan starting?” and yes to my horror I was caught as I failed to reply properly with actions. So he enquired again “m’am, have you taken the vow of silence” and so I nodded .
I flustered with embarrassment, as I got attention and further enquiries from others in the room and cursed myself for being such a bad actor. To silent their enquiries I took a piece of paper and wrote “8days of ekasana and Maun”. A girl trainee sitting beside me stood with all inquisition and asked “but m’am how will you answer calls?”, again I wrote on piece of paper
“8days = Maun + Ekasana – fb – watsapp – calls.”
I thought I rested their queries but as this was news for all, it spreaded quickly like a quick fire. As I was getting undue attention, it perturbed me and I decided to go home.
Its 6.30am as alarm rings, woah!! It’s the most amazing dream I ever had. I just saw a short story in my dream and certainly I remember every inch of the tale. That day something unlocked in me, still wondering what?? But I felt realms of my mind had broadened and as if I am starting to hear my thoughts more clearly.
My hands are fidgeting to write immediately and also to check fb and watsapp, but I surpass them all as first I needed to do my house chores.
I saw my friends post on their blog on fb. I read their blog but I didn’t comment as am not supposed to check fb and commenting will certainly break rules I created for myself.
I didn’t go to office that day, two reasons:-
- I overate and was feeling too sleepy and giddy.
- I don’t like the undue attention I am getting in office due to “Maun Vrat (vow of silence)”. Thereafter I took leave from the office for next 5 days .
Its 4th day and I feel like doing hula loop dance. Oh yayy!! For the first time I have come soo far and I feel fresh this morning even if I couldn’t sleep properly last night. Early morning urge to see fb and whatsapp again pops up and I was about to check it, when an idea clicked to me. As I was unable to resist checking fb and whatsapp, so I thought why not delete both apps??
“But will that be called self control??” I questioned my thought.
Answer came “Nope not at all, ok I will keep the app and not check it anymore. That ways only I can keep my anxiety away.”
Next morning, my burpy rap and bad headache started because of an empty stomach. My situation concerned everyone at home since it was my first time, so they all insisted me to eat as it was too hot. However, I resisted the urge to eat.
After bath I did some house chores and went to rest for half an hour, after which I sat to eat. As I ate I relished every bite I took and felt soo grateful for the food I am able to eat and thank God for that. I wonder, if I ever was this grateful and aware for every bite I ate as I experienced that day. It was “hunger” that pricked my bubble of unawareness.
I realized what’s it like to be hungry. Do you know 11.3% of the world’s population is hungry? That’s roughly 805 million people who go undernourished on a daily basis, consuming less than the recommended 2,100 calories a day.
While eating I wanted something and I couldn’t communicate well in actions, soo I was forced to write. It was really difficult to communicate with actions and I realized how difficult it would be for someone who can’t speak to communicate with actions always. I wonder, it must be really irritating if your message isn’t understood the way you intended.
Started having severe headache and body ache and I started losing my cool. Pain and hunger was unnerving me and I started doubting myself will I able to do it?? I thought I should call it an end as this body ache was taking a toll over my health.
But I couldn’t see my sweat becoming water, so I made up my mind and continued. After all, I am so close to the end, how could I possibly give in at this juncture.
I reminded myself yes I can certainly do it because “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. I boosted myself by reminding, how people told me to “stop it, start eating” and some others told me “it’s difficult so don’t do it, you are already so thin” and some told me “vow of silence, why are you punishing yourself because you love to talk?? Or you are punishing others?? You and silent it impossible…blah…blah… I felt so helpless then, as I couldn’t convince them all but I learnt explanations are so wasteful and full of drama as sometimes you must let things go, it’s a feeling above all. Today same people who doubted me are proud of me for coming so far.
I empathized with them all as I understood; they must have felt so uncomfortable, exposed and vulnerable to the idea of silence & hunger, as our world is full of chaos and speech.
At the end, I guess what matters the most is belief in oneself and not what others say or think.
Day realizations: – I finally, have won the battle with words, anxiety, thirst, pain and hunger as I felt more comfortable in my own skin. Words are not anymore required to express, as action fill in the blanks.
Evening Truth:- As watsapp messages were popping up to ask my whereabouts and health since morning. I lost the half won battle as anxiety surmounted over me andreplied back to some of those messages. I felt guilty and very weak; I shouldn’t have replied I know. I confessed this to my loved ones and again pursued the regime.
Last day I felt little frustrated due to hunger and also got lost in actions. I was in a hurry to complete this last day, so that I could eat, talk and have a proper look at whatsapp and FB.
But as I stood at the end of the day, somehow I felt my journey has just begun. It must be the end of these 8 days but it’s the beginning of self awareness. I felt more confident as what I just thought without a doubt at start, I could achieve it. It’s important to do it for oneself without giving it too much of a thought for what others feel about it.
I didn’t prove others wrong but proved myself right. I learnt “execution overpowers too much thinking and planning together” because if I would have planned or questioned myself “how will I do it or will I be able to do it, etc.” then it could have been more difficult to complete.
To my surprise, I fairly managed the whole regime although I still could have done it much better. This thought propelled me to take “vow of silence” further beyond 8days, but my idea got busted as soon as I met reality. As when I asked permission of my closed ones, they all said “no way, we’ll go mad understanding your gestures and please don’t be so unkind on our poor nerves. How could you possibly think of continuing “Vow of silence” for further 30days, the idea is preposterous?? We can’t bear the silence in the house, its already killing us.”
As I sit and look back, I feel like that frog in the well that just saw the glimpse of the worlds outside the well while sitting on the edge of the well. Yes those 8 days were just the glimpse of self awareness I felt. As I reclaimed my speech, I realize the importance of listening (not just hearing), I realized how people just want others to listen and how they are always looking for an ear and also speech isn’t required to fill in the space always.
It was one of the most self enriching experiences I ever had, so powerful and positive and much stronger than I imagined. My “vow of silence” certainly conserved a lot of energy for me as I was saved from all those wasteful l talks, which helped me continue my fasting so gracefully.
This experience was filled with both upside and downside.
Changes in me
I feel horizons of my mind have been knocked open and for the first time I could hear my thoughts more clearly. My anxiety to see whatsapp and fb has been put on check. I have found more patience and tolerance. I have learnt to empathize and let it go.
This experience is certainly one of the most satisfying and empowering till date.
As some were amazed that I did it (as I love to talk) and I was amazed at them being so amazed, as they barely know me. Some were least bothered. Some appreciated and some criticized. But my learning’s stays intact and unaffected, despite all the reactions. But people’s different reactions and questions gave me an insight to write this experience and share it with you all, which also bought so much clarity of thought of what I have actually gained through it.
Hope you are enlightened the same way as I am.
I would love to put to rest all the inquisitions you have about everything I just shared.
Please do share your experience if you have ever tried any of the above, would love to know.
BY MONIKA SHRIMAL