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Space and Time


I feel like an animal. Yesterday I was suddenly quite scared when someone rattled my doorknob. A doorknob that no one has touched while I’ve been here. It was a University Security patrol demanding to know who I was. Then I felt angry. That movement from fear to anger seemed very animal. Territorial. As if my space had been invaded while I was alone in the woods grubbing through the leaf litter or something. I was shocked out of my reverie. Apparently the security guard heard me singing. He was just doing his job I suppose. I said I was the hermit and he said ‘oh’. I was relieved I didn’t have to open the door. Don’t know how I would have coped with the scent of another creature. Wonder if I’m turning into a werewolf.

I’m annoyed with myself for oversleeping this morning. Disrupts the rhythm and makes it much harder to get everything done through the day. Here’s my routine, in case you’re interested. The structure is really important for sanity I think. I’ve taken as my template the form of a vipassana meditation course. You can see the full rules here.

I’m following the basic code of discipline in the way that a helper on a course would follow it, rather than as a student. On a vipassana course the student has no other job than to meditate. In fact eating, washing, walking and sitting are about the only activities really allowed. But as a server there are all sorts of other jobs to do in support of the students. Cooking, cleaning and organizing things primarily, but also, for long-term servers who may live on-site, there are various necessary interactions with the outside world. So for instance I’m not observing the vow of silence. Obviously. look at me chattering away. But one of the things I’ve never understood is the injunction against luxurious beds. I think I’m getting it now. When there are very few luxuries the bed becomes very important. And getting up in the morning really is one of the most difficult things. For me anyway. It’s so tempting to stretch and snuggle in the warmth. So I’ve decided to abandon my mattress and sleep on a mat on the floor.

Here is my basic timetable. The core of it consists of three fixed meditation sittings of an hour at a time, morning afternoon and evening. Anyone who would like to join me at those times on the webcam for a moment of peace and quiet is more than welcome. The spaces in this timetable are more flexible and divided between more sitting meditation, vocal work, physical exercise and writing. All times are GMT+1

4:00 am               wake-up
4:30-7:00 am      yoga
7:00-8:00 am     breakfast
8:00-9:00 am     meditation
9:00-11:00 am
11:00-12:00         main meal
12 -2:30 pm
2:30-3:30 pm      meditation
3:30-6:00 pm
6:00-7:00 pm     meditation
7:00-9:00 pm
9.30                       sleep

7 Comments leave one →
  1. cosi permalink
    18/07/2009 5:30 pm

    hi Ansuman,
    the one time I managed to see you on the webcam you were indeed meditating. I contemplated your image for a moment and smiled, then decided to leave you in peace….
    I know of course that you could not perceive an intrusion, at least neither in a physical sense, nor in the sense that I was uninvited, (since you put the webcam up yourself & put your image out there).

    But there you have it, I felt it was better to do something else (maybe even meditate), rather than to watch you….

  2. Alexia permalink
    18/07/2009 9:49 pm

    Re. the security patrol, maybe they already forgot about you there at the museum, and they will forget to let you out, so you are forever lost unarchived? Do you ever suffer from claustrophobia?

    Your program looks quite strict. Must be really harsh. How do you motivate yourself to keep by the schedule?

  3. 18/07/2009 10:11 pm

    I wouldn’t mind all that much if they forgot about me. I’m already feeling like most of my time has slipped away and there’s so little left and I haven’t really got started. I’m not claustrophobic but it’s a shame not to have a single window that opens.

    Actually the schedule is really quite gentle when you get the rhythm of it. I mean meditation is just sitting there doing nothing. Rather than motivation what I need is reigning in. I could go on for hours once I get on to something. Writing for instance. The schedule stops me from drifting. Getting up and going to sleep are the hard bits. Like, now it’s 10pm. What am I DOING!

  4. Tom Stephenson permalink
    19/07/2009 12:23 am

    Ok, I’ll try and join you for breakfast, but I can;t make it for 4.00 am! Good question – what are you doing? Ever seen the German film ‘The Great Silence’, made at the monastery in France?

  5. Hilary Peters permalink
    20/07/2009 9:02 am

    Thanks for your schedule.
    I also consider myself a hermit, also in the Vipassana tradition. I have another tradition too. I’m a hermit in a folly in an eighteenth century landscape.
    The first part of my day is similar to yours. Then the outer world breaks in and I am very conscious of me-ing and doing.
    Glad to know there’s at least one more of us.

  6. 30/07/2009 2:55 pm

    I wonder you have been there just as an extra
    occupier aren’t you. You aren’t the lord of castle.
    Like our existence in this world.
    (We only received allowance here)

    Any time bell will ring for us to leave this world.
    That’s why we need to contemplate what is our life.
    That’s why we need to prepare and live the life
    doing the best and make us able to say “I did
    on my best, I have no regret”—–(so to have


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