It seems that when you come back from a 10 Day Silent Vipassana Meditation Course, you end up speaking a lot to describe the experience to curious folks. So I would like to share with you all my experience in writing :-)
YOWZAH!!!!! It was intense and amazing.
After a little talking to get you settled in on the check-in day, you are then silent for 9 days. You briefly talk to the teacher 1-3 times to check in with her and make sure everything is going okay and otherwise.... nothing. I was terribly frightened by this going in. Me? Chatty Cathy?? Talk in my sleep girl???
I thought I would have a ton of grief bubble up to the surface and have to face it head on.
Then I was taught the lesson of not having preconceptions, of not having expectations. AGAIN! For all the preaching I do about that one in class - I'm still human and very guilty of doing it myself.
As it turns out, the silence was readily available and sooooooo welcome to me. I didn't want to go back to talking on day 9! I didn't have much grief come up at all. The couple of times it did, I was able to sense it, observe it, and integrate it without it become a huge wave of emotion that knocked me down. It was amazing. Revolutionary really.
What I did struggle with was stillness. OH MY GOSH was that hard!!!!! We meditated for 10-11 hours a day. No joke. You get meal breaks, you get 5 minute breaks every 1-2 hours, but you sit as still as possible for 10 hours daily! Holy Moly was that exceptionally hard for me.
You turn your mind to the breath and observe your respiration in the beginning and then unfold as you move through the days to observe your sensations. You work towards being able to feel your body's reactions as your emotions come up. For example, when you start to get pissed about this thing that so and so did to you, you take your mind away from the anger and focus it back on the body and the breath. It sounds so simple, but it is so very difficult.
During most of the days I was there my mind was on my anger or sadness or mundane tasks or anxiety about finances. It was on anything other than sensing my body. I was frustrated that I couldn't sit still. You are suppose to keep your eyes closed, but I would inevitably peak and every time I did, every other person seemed to be the picture of perfect alignment and stillness in their meditation. On the last day when you can speak to others you realize we all had the same experience and you laugh at feeling so alone on your journey when yet again, others are there with you!
It was hard. It was intense. At moments it was agonizing.
But then, on about day 5, you sit for an hour without opening your legs, or your hands (I still peaked here. Doh!!!). On day 6 I actually was able to focus on sensing my body about 1/2 of the hour. On day 7 I could sit for many hours (with short breaks between) without opening my legs, hands, or eyes. On day 8, I had a huge burst of grief come up from my gut and was able to pause and bring my attention back to my body and not be swallowed up whole by it. On day 9 I actually had one hour where my mind was almost completely on my body and not on all of the anxieties, angers, and griefs that usually rule my world!!!!! Revolutionary I tell you.
I now have tools in my tool belt to help me through the craving and aversion that is the human life. To keep my grounded and centered. Don't get me wrong, I have a LONG way to go!!!!! But I have made a HUGE step forward on that path. I feel like the rest of my journey through this life will be manageable, even enjoyable, no matter what gets thrown my way.
Thank you to my teacher, Goenka (the cutest, funniest, deadest Burmese man who teaches by video). He is an amazing teacher and I have so much gratitude.
BTW - there are Vipassana Centers all over the world. These 10 day courses are FREE! That's crazy!! The teachers, the staff... everyone donate their time. It is their service for the gratitude the technique has given them.
The donations of past students pay for you. You are just asked that if you once you complete the course, you have found it valuable, that you donate time or money so another student can take it for free in the future. This way there is no commercialism and whether you are a prince or a pauper, you can go and benefit.
I hope everyone gets up the nerve to try this once in their life. It's so worth the time and effort you put in. It will change your life. Every past student I have talked to was amazed and ready to come back for more. I talked to 3 folks who were in my course who have done this over 4 times! I will definitely do this again.
If you are interested, I'm happy to be a resource. But first check out the website it explains a lot and tells you where all the centers are located.
Here is to an amazing 2017, no matter what happens this year :-)
If you are feeling restless, you haven't sat still long enough