Yoga Rockford: Seeing things as they really are

By Jennie Williford

Pranayama Yoga Studio

Vipassana is translated as “seeing things as they really are.” Vipassana Meditation is the technique to help us to “see,” and Vipassana Meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka, is the course we can take to learn how to “see.”

In early July, I sat my fifth 10-day course of Vipassana Meditation right here in Pecatonica, where we are lucky enough to have one of seven centers in the country. As always, having benefited enormously from my experience, I am compelled to share all I can with others.

If asked, most people would answer “yes” to the question of wanting to live a more connected, happy, productive life. If there were a pill to take to have this happen, I think we all would take it. But there isn’t a quick-fix pill. So, what do you do? You do Vipassana.

In Vipassana, there is no guru to enlighten you, no mantra to transcend you, and no miracle to transport you. It is the way to a better life because it is a tool only you can work with to better deal with your own experiences the way they are at any moment. If we depend on any other person, sooner or later, that other will be gone. If we depend on anything, sooner or later, that thing will be gone. And, in waiting for miracles, sometimes our time runs out.

Realizing nothing is permanent and everything changes, and finding self-dependence with the knowledge that as you work, so shall you benefit, are basic tenets to the practice of Vipassana. And I can tell you that even the smallest understanding of these can start you on a journey that ultimately leads to more internal clarity and strength.

A 10-day course in Vipassana Meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka, is the first step any of us can take on this journey to a happier existence, and it is well worth the short time away from work, family and responsibility. There is no talking, reading, writing, computer or phone…no communication with the outside world at all, leaving you without distraction to work on the inner world alone.

You soon realize these small attachments are a buffer to deeper cravings and aversions that cause much of our internal anguish. It is this internal, self-caused suffering we need to eradicate to truly find happiness, so we must learn to sit, and we must learn to “see” what is within us, as it is, moment to moment.

It is in the “seeing” that you become aware…aware of your own personal truth…aware that you are in control of your own reactions and emotions and, finally, even your own mind if you only accept the work. But there is beauty and terror within the work of Vipassana. It is embracing all of who you are and what you encompass, it is accepting that there is no blame or excuse outside of your own self, and it is a letting go of all of what you think you are and becoming who you truly are…whether it matches your expectations or not.

At the end of a 10-day course, I am usually filled with relief and determination. Relief that the 10 days are over, as it is always a difficult task to undertake, but more relief through the knowledge that I have found a way out of my own sufferings. The determination comes to not waste the 10-day experience as a fluke or a fancy, but utilize all I learned so I can continue to reap the rewards of my practice. In learning to see things as they are, I am able to see myself as I truly am, becoming a better wife, teacher, friend and human, and freeing myself of unnecessary burdens.

For more information about Vipassana Meditation, as taught by S.N. Goenka, and for a course schedule for the center in Pecatonica, visit or call (815) 489-0420.

For more information about Pranayama Yoga Studio, visit or call (815) 968-9642.

From the September 2-8, 2009 issue

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