Monday, May 7, 2012

Filmmaker and Author Jenny Phillips reviews "Inner Pilgrimage"

Filmmaker, psychotherapist and author of Lettters from the Dhamma Brothers Jenny King Phillips writes a book review on "Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me."
Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days To A Mindful Me is a delightfully irreverent and totally compelling book by Raji Lukkoor about her first 10-day Vipassana course. The book is filled with rich, often funny, and very revealing details. As a Vipassana meditator myself, I cherish the honesty and humility of Raji’s account of her battles with her mind. Her experiences match my own struggles to do a good job and be a good Vipassana meditator. Of course, no one was judging my behavior and experience but myself. But that realization only slowly emerges as the mind and body settle.

There are two threads running side by side throughout the book – Raji’s personal narrative of her wild and untamed mind, and her account of the structure and unfolding inner process of the 10-day Vipassana course. In the early days of the course, she is overcome with apprehension and judgments of others. For example, while standing in line in the dining hall she notices that one of the meditators picks up a plate, discovers that it is not clean, and then puts it back down rather than placing it with the dirty dishes. Raji’s inner process is on fire. “Anger splashes across my face. I give her an angry glare. She then helps herself to another plate. Such indiscretion! Wish I could bang the soiled plate on your head!”

Raji’s inner battles of course follow her to the meditation mat as she struggles to focus and observe her sensations without reacting to them. “My attention shifts to my throbbing temples. As it zeroes in on my jaw, pressure and tightness bubble up, gently parting my lips, releasing electrical impulse-like sensations through them. These sensations pulsate, rising, peaking, falling, rising, peaking, falling. A wall of pressure builds in my ears, temporarily blocking my hearing. Numbness takes form in my feet”.

As the course progresses, Raji surrenders to the unrelenting struggle, and slowly begins to see her Self revealed. “As the inner bodily sensations arose and passed away, the layers of worldly expectation and embitterment stripped away. I began to grasp the profundity and preciousness of life and learned to trust my own deepest experience”.

I am certain that writing this book must have been a positive experience for Raji Lukkoor as she documented the tiny details and stories of her first Vipassana course. But these same stories, precisely because they are so honest and courageously open, can be instructive and encouraging to all those who are motivated to embark on a journey inside.

Read Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me!

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