November 05, 2010

Vipassana Romance (V.R., for short)


Who hasn't fallen in love while meditating? A silent stranger sitting upright and attractive on a cushion across the floor—obviously your enlightened soulmate. His delicate fingers resting on his lap. The way she thoughtfully holds each breath before exhaling. And we already have so much in common!

Pagan Kennedy has an article in the New York Times about her experience with Vipassana Romance (V.R., for short), entitled "Breathe in, Breathe Out, Fall in Love."

She writes:


At that point in my life I had never attempted a full day of meditation. I was chain-smoking my way through a series of boyfriends because I had no idea how to be alone. I hated the cold spot in the bed and the empty hangers that rattled in the closet. Which is why I started meditating. I thought I’d try wading into loneliness the way you enter the sea, easing myself into the bone-chilling cold a bit at a time — first toes, then calves, then legs.

Today would be the first time I’d plunge in all the way. I was terrified. But after meditating Vipassana-style for a few months, I also knew how to handle that terror: I would place my fear in a display case, as if it were a diamond, and shine a spotlight on it. Breath in. Breath out. And so this is what I did for hours, until I itched with boredom.

Eventually, I allowed myself to spy on the other people in the room, their shoulders wrapped in blankets, hands fallen open, faces drained of expression. That’s when I noticed him several pillows away: a lanky man in a button-down shirt, his blond hair dangling over a delicate ear. It was hard to make out his face — I was sitting behind him — but I could see that he wore wire-frame glasses that were Scotch-taped at the joint. His corduroy pants had gone bald at the knee. His wrist peeped out of the sleeve, endearingly bony and frail.


Read the rest here.

Have you ever experienced Vipassana Romance (or Zazen Romance or Dzogchen Romance or any meditation practice romance, for that matter)? Share your story with readers in the comments section below.

Image: Brian Rea, New York Times

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marew's picture

No romance but was assigned to sit next to someone I barely knew during sesshin and had only seen maybe once or twice before. I won't go into it all but she did everything in the world to draw attention to herself. It was maddening for a while-- not one for physical violence, I'm ashamed to say there were a few times I wanted to smack her. I'm on our Board and after it was over she sent us a letter complaining about everything except the teacher whom she'd attempted to monopolize. So many members worked so worked so hard to put the sesshin together and she had no gratitude whatever. A senior student took me aside and said there are always needy people, sometimes more than others. She'd been pretty much kicked out of another group for taking it upon herself to 'preach' in the middle of sittings. I look at it now as a life lesson. What must she feel inside to behave like that? I now know that aversion I felt (and I'm not proud of that feeling) must be turned into compassion.

rdewald's picture

Happens at every single sesshin I've ever attended. Traveling the middle way, I also end up hating someone just as intensely. :- ) One time I fell in love with someone at SFZC whom I never looked in the eye. I still don't know who that was.

I've never talked to the object of my emotional arousal about it, though, certainly never given or taken a phone number. This is just the kind of thing that happens to me at sesshin. I have no idea why, nor do I care to know.