10 days in silence- how it changed me
In the last week´s Offline Experience and during the past year a lot of people asked me about my Vipassana Experience- hence I decided to write down this text.
I attended a Vipassana course nearly 2 years ago in Chennai in India which consists in 10 day silent meditation retreat. Well, it´s not really a retreat as these days reference it – you basically live like a monk for 10 days. Once you check in you have to handle in not only your phone or laptop, but also any books, writing materials and anything that keeps you distracted- even your wallet and passport.
That’s it- for the next 10 days it will be just YOU. You are not allowed to write, read, paint, practice Yoga or talk with anyone apart from 2 min a day to the main teacher teacher. Women one side and the men on the other, the course consists on approx 11 hours of seated meditation a day- guided by the mentor of the Vipassana program all over the world named S. N. Goenka with breaks for eating, shower and resting. Vipassana is a technique to purify the mind, therefore you purify your body too.
I will try to describe my journey there without taking too much of your time. When I arrive I was clearly very anxious, as I wanted to Experience this journey for a few years but haven’t had the courage to do it.
At the end of the first day you want to disappear from the planet. Everything and everyone seems like a nightmare, food included. In the end, because you need to be absolutely alone with yourSelf, all of our fears, judgements, angers & frustrations, (hence our shadows) come to the surface like a volcano. I thought seriously about giving up…thankfully I didn´t.
I would say that the first 3 days are the hardest but the most crucial ones. During the first 3 and half days you are trained to focus your mind with a minimum angle of vision- for 11 hours you focus all your attention on the very tip of your nose- there’s nothing else in your world during that time. Just your breath and the tip-of-your-nose.
The beautiful thing after that time is that when you come out of the meditation room to the garden for a silent walk, your mind is so focus that you can have a beautiful conversation with a butterfly during your lunch time. TRUE. I believe is just like taking LSD.
The following 5 days you start to meditate on your body- the so called “body scan” from the top of the head down to the toes. Everyday, again, for 11 hours.
Whilst you do the body scan and as you been sitting in crossed legged most of your existence there, a lot of pain starts to arise….and I mean, you cry with the pain. The meaning of that is simple: Because you are constantly breathing and focusing only on that, the energy of your body starts to be “renovated” very quickly. Its like cleaning your house. Imagine that you clean your house for 11 days in a row, 11 hours a day. Would be pretty clean right…
This is where it became clear to me that the body only reflects what is going on the mind. As soon as the mind becomes focused, your thoughts become clear, the fears and all subconscious feelings arise and the body feels it. And how it feels….!
The journey is to deal with that physical pain, which in fact is just a reflection of the mental pain you are going through. Consciously and unconsciously.
As some parts of your body are in such deep pain, other parts though are completely numb. And the goal is for your to feel a free energy flow throughout all the body. Feeling every single cell of your body. I did feel all the little vessels in my lungs my friends. Its magical.
I would say the last 2 days are the liberation days. The magic happens towards the end. Only when you are empty of thoughts, only when you are only beathing- the pain fades away and the energy flows up and down the body. Only when you surrender to letting go of the pain, or trying to feel sensations where your body is numb the pain fades away and the energy moves freely.
The conclusion of Vipassana and all LIFE in general is: The source of all human suffering has either 2 causes: either we fight against something we have (pain) or we desire something we don’t have (sensations where we don’t feel anything in the body, like numbness). Only when we accept the reality as it is and just breathe- the energy flows and you understand the “light” we all have.
When I experienced this, all made sense to me in my life, in that particular moment where I sobbed into tears so much that I felt I was getting born again. I never felt so much love and joy in my life like after those 12 days in that centre in Chennai.
I am absolutely sure that, on the last day, I found the Love that we all seek, in essence. It´s inside YOU, believe me.
For a few months the “light” State of mind kept going and I thought it was impossible not to last forever. But vipassana also teaches you this. Everything changes all the time, everything is temporary: the pain but also the joy. This is why we need to practice everyday.
This is why it became absolutely crucial for me to sit down in silence everyday, train to focus my mind for at least 1 hour , sometimes more…since then.
Slowly as the time passes by and you never cleaned your house so well for 12 days in a row…you start to get dirty again. But the process continues everyday, the more you do it, the more it gets cleaned. And I know that big cleaning was a big starting point to where I am at the moment.
This is why I tattooed “breathe” on my right wrist so I keep reminding myself to breathe every single moment. As the mind keeps tricking you everyday…I try also remind the mind that “ I have been “There” and there will always be a Hope to reach closer and closer again….and Higher and Higher…and I’m getting There.
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