30 May 2013

Chapter 3: Be happy

Meditation was hard and beautiful.
You just have to look at the timetable to understand why it was hard.

Sitting leg crossed for 10 hours a day during 10 days is not something that my knees were very happy about, especially after I have been working standing at the office for over two years now.
Waking up at 4:00 am did not really help either.
However, I had a wonderful time at the Dhamma Paphulla.

There is this popular misconception that meditation is something very pleasant and relaxing, let me tell you that it is not. As a matter of fact, it can be surprisingly exhausting, at least until you get the hold of it.

I did my first course 8 years ago and I thought this one would be much easier. Innocent me. It was like a slap in the face, but still I have no words to describe the benefits I have received from it.

By now you are probably thinking that I have gone nuts.

But believe me when I say that there is nothing crazy about it. It has nothing to do with any sect or religion; there are no rituals or mystical ceremonies involved.
Vipassana meditation is all about you, your mind and your body. The technique is very simple, logical and can be used as a tool to live a happier life. That’s it.

Here is how it works:

The technique is always taught in courses of 10 days, open to anyone, no matter if you are an astrophysicist, a grandmother or a Buddhist monk. No need to be a hippy or a super mystical person to attend to the course.
During this period students cannot go out from the meditation centre or have any contact with the outside world. It is not allowed to talk, use mobile phones, books or any other kind of entertainment.

Walking (in limited areas) is the only physical exercise permitted.

During the first 3 days, the students only practise Anapana, an exercise of mental concentration to prepare the mind for the introduction of Vipassana, which is taught the forth day and practised until the end of the course.
On the tenth day, silence ends and we all look so happy!

Bronwyn, my lovely (and silent) roommate and Jyothsna, a meditator/software developer
I’m not going to start explaining the actual technique, if you are slightly interested on living a happier life I suggest you give it a try. These Vipassana courses are organized around the world and follow exactly the same method and structure regardless the location.

Just one tip for future new students: Do not worry if instead of inner peace all you find is inner agitation. You would certainly feel like running away after the forth day, don’t do it! This feeling is normal and will eventually pass away, just smile, accept it and everything is going to be all right.

I cannot finish this post without saying thanks to our lovely teachers Mrs.Vani Hardev and Mr. A.S. Murthy, the Dahmma workers, the great Goenka (which always makes me laugh so hard) and the chain of teachers who kept the technique alive since the times of Buhdda.

May all of you be happy!

18 May 2013

Chapter 2: A letter to the future

By the time you read this I will probably be in a meditation course in the middle of nowhere.
I'm going to use Blogger's schedule feature for first time. This post will be magically published the day I want without me having to press any button. Sounds like sending a letter to the future, creepy stuff.

Anyway, I will be 10 days without any contact with the civilization, in fact, I need to leave my iPhone, Mac, music, watch, books and any other kind of "entertainment" in a safety box before I start the course... I know that sounds like I'm about to enter in a prison, but believe me, it is not that bad.
Actually, it is going to be very nice to take a break from all that stuff for a while... I really need an Internet detox for example :-) There will be no coffee, no talking and no physical contact with anybody... A bit like working in office full of developers in Finland, except for the coffee of course.

So, while I'm meditating you can look at all these awesome pics I made in Bangalore.

Ready? Now, I encourage you to take this Internet detox with me, at least for a day.
Go out with your friends instead of chatting with them in WhatsApp, shout stuff out of your car window instead of posting it on Twitter, invite your mom for a coffee instead of commenting the cute cat picture she put on Facebook.

See you in a while, be happy!!

13 May 2013

What am I doing here?

Yesterday, I woke up in New Delhi.
I don’t know how this even happened… but here I am, alone in India, doing the craziest thing I have ever done in my life (besides moving to Finland). Yaay!

I am not sure how much I will be able to write about my adventures, considering that Internet connection is not something India is known for, but I promise I’ll do my best! Especially because my mom made me swear that I will post lots of pictures and I cannot let her down.

Chapter one: 


I got from Delhi to Bangalore without too much hassle.
I was taught that Delhi airport was a big beautiful mess but without the beautiful part. Hence, I was ready to get lost and confused… against all odds I survived pretty well. As a matter of fact, switching terminals was not as bad as in Charles de Gaulle (sorry Paris but your airport sucks).

Relaxing Delhi airport
Getting to the hotel
My hotel in Bangalore was out from an Indian horror movie, but in a funny way.
The neighborhood was not what I would call a walk friendly area, unless you enjoy walking in between cars, auto rickshaws, motorbikes, dogs and cows. I also had the impression that I was the only foreigner those people have seen in years.

Lovely view from my room
I made the mistake to go for a walk, which ended up being more like and obstacle race instead of a walk. I wanted to capture the street chaos with my camera but I was terribly afraid that someone or something will run over me while I was taking the picture. I just got a few shots of traffic-free areas.

30 min were more than enough to prove myself brave.
Once I got to the hotel after my quick "walk" I realized one thing: in order to stay alive in India until July I had to look for a bit more peaceful area. So, I booked a nicer hotel for a couple of nights in the city center. The hotel is conveniently called Escape Hotel, exactly what I was looking for... especially after getting a complimentary Break Fast coupon, thank you very much.

Fortunately, I got to the other hotel in one piece.
Now I can see some sort of sidewalks on the streets, that already makes me so happy!


5 May 2013

Nice places in Helsinki: Street Gastro

I couldn't believe it when I saw it... Gourmet sandwiches on the streets of Helsinki!!

Street food culture is something pretty normal in other cities, but still rather exotic around here (asides from Restaurant Day). It is always a nice surprise when you find a food truck, but it is even nicer when they actually have good food. These guys just made my day.

That's what you should do:
1. Go here.
2. Grab a Street Gastro sandwich.
3. Take a seat on the stairs of Senaatintori (Senate Square). Unless it is winter or winter-winter, in that case jump directly to step number 5.
4. Have a laugh watching the tourists posing for a picture in front of the Cathedral and/or taking photos with their iPads, which I always find hilarious.
5. Go home happy and check out more nice places in Helsinki.