First thing first,
If you’ve come to read this article you may already know a fair bit about what Vipassana Meditation is, so you can jump bellow, if not, here we go;
Vipassana meaning To see things as they really are, is one of the oldest meditation techniques in India. It was taught nearly 2,500 years ago as “a universal remedy for universal ailments”.
The technique is described as the art of life.
The technique almost disapeared and when was finally brought back to India it exploded all around the country and soon after has been sent abroad to meet the western public as well. Centers have been opened in most of the continents and countries throughout Europe and America, Australia, Japan and more.
But I didn’t really know much about it before enrolling myself in a course.
All I knew is that a sweet friend mentionned it and then the most close person to me got in – not me – he came back alive, didn’t speak much about it with me but I knew deep down that I wanted to put myself in this experience, out of comfort, I knew it would be hard because it is all about concentration and the Mind, which always has been my worths enemy and now became one of my biggest interest and passion. So I knew that I MUST experience it. I kept applying to courses ( can be hard to get a place, especially in certain countries like France, I currently stay in Scandinavia so I tried my luck in the closest center ( Sweeden ) and it worked !.
I got my confirmation email on 24 december ( my christmas gift ) ! Than I was set for January 8. Excited and scared. Ready to dive in without knowing so much what will happen. And trying to not have real expectations at all.
Reading other people’s blog post is good but I would recommend to don’t take it to the letter because each person is unique and we all come with a different background and mindset to the retreat so no experience is similaire AT ALL.
What is the course about and what are the principles;
The only course you can apply to as a begginer aka new student foreign to the technique is a 10 Days course. 10 Days seam like a short time. However without your Phone, Netflix, your TV, your Video Games, your Books, your Yoga routine, your Journal or your Music Player, Time becomes … Different if I may say. You will eventually catch yourself counting the days you have left, counting the minutes, the hours … Know that it is Normal and that’s ok. You must hold on to the experience and surrender into it as much as possible because it might drive you a tinny bit crazy if you focus on time too much (speaking of experience haha). I realised that this is part of the detox process of the retreat. All detox come with some simptoms on the first days and dispear after a little while.
If you enter, do not Give up! This is the best challenge for yourself. Hold on, Support yourself, Be your best friend during those 10 days, and use your time wisely. Because the hardship will not be permanent, the aim of this intensive retreat is for you to go home with a strong baggage and tool in your hands that you can then apply in your life.
During those 10 days you will be ask to respect 5 precepts – one of them being Noble Silence. Which means;
No Eye contact
No Physical contact
Not Speaking is fairly easy or at least was for me. The hardest thing wasn’t even touching or gesture it was eye contact for me. I am a totally an eye contact person. That’s how I listen and that’s how I communicate the most with people around me. So – hard one. But not impossible. Very rewarding at the end.
The 5 other precepts are;
Abstaining from Killing
Abstaining from Stealing
Abstaining from Sexual Misconduct
Abstaining from Intoxicants such as Tabacco, Alcohol, Drugs
Which can be more or less challenging for each of us. Be strong.
What I love about this Meditation technique,
is that it doesn’t ask you to dive into an alter dimension, escape this reality for another one which is willing to be more peaceful and beautiful. Nope. This technique is about dealing with this world, this life, this reality, this exact instant – as it is, not as you want it to be. It is about observing yourself, who you are. Not only on a spiritual level but on a Body Matter Flesh level. It learns you how to take the time to slow down and be with your body, your sensations. What is this body like, from the inside out, with the help of your complete attention and focus. May you be with yourself for at least an hour of your day. Alone with yourself without any distraction.
It felt so hard to deturn the attention inward. We lost completly this self vision of ourselves or we may even never have taken any action like this one before. Sitting, immobile for a little while and just look at yourself. Not through a mirror, not through a photograph but through your own Mindful experience of yourself. Your true Mental vision of yourself. Not trhough visualisation but through sensations. Without even words. Just sensations. Eliminating all Illusion, Delusion, Imagination.
The main outcomes FOR ME ;
Meditation is misunderstood by most of us. Meditating to feel pleasure or happiness is counterintuitive.
Meditating to feel relax sensations and reach a certain place or state is really appreciable however it doesnt have to become the reason why we meditate. What I realised with experience is that this type of happiness sicking way of meditate is like taking a pill to mask a symptom. I may help you feel better for a little while but will never be permanent and will not cure the actually root problem. So It is ok to do it to releave yourself of a bad mood or feeling for a short while but if you want a long lasting effect you may face the reality as it is and take meditation as an awareness tool to navigate your life on a more stable way, not only occasionally but more permanently.
Your inner dialogue changes.
Whiout being too extreme I realised that my inner voice was so agitated and impatient. I tend to speak to myself with quite harsh and tense words on a daily basis when I am in my busy active life. As the days passed at the retreat I noticed that my inner dialogue became more calm and supportive. More patient and optimistic. More compationate and objective. A good reminder that you have to be your own best friend – being your own enemy means nothing but misery. Cultivate self appreciation and love as much as possible.
Living abroad for a few years now, speaking another language than my native one is my new normal. On a daily basis, I ended up living in english, communicating in english, thinking in english, dreaming english – you name it. But with isolation, getting in my own bubble, being with nobody but myself for 9 full days before to break the vow of silence, my French came back haha. My inner dialogue was in french which was surprising and nice to realise. The roots come back when you allow space and silence in your life.
Training yourself to stop reacting can help in tolerating pain & challenging situations.
As someone who is a long term hypochondriac and far too sensitive, this lesson was important. I would not have come to this conclusion without the course either, because I’m far too stubborn and easely blinded. I can see with hindsight that by obsessing over the pain and the unpleasant sensations, I exacerbated it tremendously.
Sometimes we hold on to what we fear and hate. While I still ache on a regular basis, that ache has less power over me. The distinction sounds slight but it has been very liberating. Plus in understanding that you can have full power on how you relate to life at any given moment. It gives so much rest to your brain to stop reacting for a hot second.
Some thoughts on Pain;
Pain. It is such a general way, a vague way to caracterize an area of sensations.
Pain is never just pain. If we look at it closer, pain is the bag in which you can find a lot of separated and unique sensations so as Heat, Tiggeling, Tightness, Extention, Coldness, Pulsation … The concept of pain is triggering for the mind. Our sensations combined have been generalized by the mind into “Pain” and a pattern of negative reactions have been practiced for years and even decades so it became unconscious to us. We may feel that we don’t have any control on it anymore. A certain sensation arises, and the mind directly works for us. Or against us I would say. Out of ignorance and disconnection from us.
Now if you willingly pause yourself as you find yourself reacting strongly to a feeling of pain, you may find the strenght needed to take a step backward and become the Observer of your own body. Stop suffering from it for a bit.
This Pain that I feel – let’s narrow down the concept of it – let’s disect it and understand it better – let’s detach and remain objective for a hot second here.
The pain can be in my knees for exemple. After sitting for extended period of time, strong sensations arise. Such an unpleasant feeling. However when I get to compartiment the pain and zoom into it, my experience of it transforms. I suddenly find it interesting, even fascinating. I never observed my sensations in such a detach and curious manner. Also, I have been introduced with the concept of ANICCA, the law of impermanence, which says that nothing is meant to be forever. The sensations rather they may be pleasant or unpleasant have the same destiny – the one to rise and pass away. With that knowledge I understand that my current condition, my current sensations, good or bad in my sense, are not meant to stay forever, so I can take a deep breath and relax to the idea that everything changes. In a second, in a minute, in an hour my whole physical experience will be completly reset and different than what I am experiencing right now. So why suffer so much ? Can I practice this new perspective and remain more detach and peaceful most of the time in my life ? Just observing and surrending to the experience of life ? Can I catch myself when I unecessarely over-react and change my behaviour patterns upside down ?
This has been a big lesson for me.
A former hypochondriac for nearly two decades.
Over-reacting and stressing for any sort of sensations.
Anxious about the idea of being unhealthy, discovering a hidden cancer that would kill me in a matter of days. Pshycho … result of a big quantity of Stress, Anxiety and Depression in my younger years.
We realy are like that … We became like that … Mainly because the evolution of the Technologies and our society push us away from ourselves, disconnect us from our Body and even Minds, so we are on auto pilote, surviving auto pilote, and thrive on Distractions, so the Mind can do whatever it wants and slowly but surely we wake up in total Misery. Even if from the outside our lives look so wonderful. Inside is a nest of insecurities, fears and trauma related stressors.
You have to do the work if you want results in life. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Shortcuts exist in life, but to train your mind you need to put in a significant amount of effort. The first few days are devastating and very frustrating because the work is both mindless and extremely tirering. But you can see a change in a mere 10 days, with disciplined practice. Consistency is key.
Also, Perfection is not real. There is nothing as the perfect way to meditate. Doing your best each and every time is enough and have to be enough ! doing your best each day along with whatever situation you are in, sensations you are feeling at any specific moment. Be consistent and do your best is the formula to achieve great transformations in every area and periods of your life.
Refocused, fully concentrated, let’s see for how long it lasts.
Those 10 days gave me a great deal of challenge and questions rather yes or no I could make it through. I knew internally that even if it is hard I will make it to the last day. However some moments the doubts are really loud, I needed daily to remotivate myself, reconsider my motives and capacities to go above obstacles. I understood that my mind has been totally over flowed with stress, fear and doubts for the past months especially letting me and my projects uncertain and unfinished and frustrated daily about my absence of comitment and results.
Resetting my brain during this retreat let me light and really concentrated, rested and very focused. I am impressed actually. I am willing to do the work, and do it efficiently, with less distraction and less doubts. Let’s see how many weeks or months it lasts !?
I will add an update later this year at the end of this post.
A full 10 days of constant meditation created a barrier between the worrying and me. It allowed me to observe the anxiety more objectively. The whole process calmed me at a deep and inexplicable level; I am still the same neurotic person I always was, but it imbued me with a sense of perspective I now maintain and am deeply grateful for.
Would I do the course again?
On the first days of the retreat one of the motivation that kept me running was the curiousity to understand why so many people are coming back to endure such struggle. I couldn’t see for nearly the whole retreat. Until I did.
So Definitely! A yearly 10-day silent course is recommended for those who meditate. I could make it a annual ritual to myself – maybe in January to kick start my year recentered and fresh. To be continued.
But for now I want to keep the daily home practice as long and consistent as possible. Manage it even if I travel. Let’s see how I will do !
If you want to read more about it I put the official website link right HERE, there you may find all the informations you need.
If there are any more details you would like me to write about in this article to make it even more complete – do not hesitate to ask me !
I truly hope that you find this article valuable and I encourage you to challenge yourself and explore as much as possible. You will never know for certain until you exerience it and try it for yourself. Give a fair try to this technique. Then you are your own Master and can decide rather or not you align with it and rather or not you want to impliment it in your life.
L o v e