Vipassana - A 10-day Mind Bender

 

It’s hard to sum everything up from the Vipassana experience, I think because places where your mind goes while meditating for 9hrs per day have no words that can describe them. It also doesn’t help that you’ve taken a vow of silence for those 10 days and promise not to take any notes… so literally you have no words to describe the experience.

 

Things that stood out immediately after:

- Complete confidence in my capabilities to find happiness is a perfectly attainable state of mind.

- Attentiveness to physical reactions due to situational causes. 

- Compassion, empathy, and acceptance of others. It’s hard to get mad in traffic.

- Sitting still in meditation poses for 45+ min, no longer a challenge.

- Agitation in people close (physical/mental) is apparent.

 

Things I’ve maintained:

- Priority on taking time to practice meditation daily.

- Detached observation from things I would have habitually reacted to in the past.

- Heightened physical/emotional awareness.

- Calmness and focus in decision making.

 

Breakdown 10-day retreat:

- Carpool or ride-share to the Vipassana Center

- Check-in before dinner, find your bunk (best to ovoid talking to bunk mates, you can’t talk all week)

- Dinner, orientation, initial evening meditation.

- Following days follow the strict schedule.

- ….

- Partial nirvana

- Break the silence Day 10 with practice in projecting loving-kindness.

- Day 11, breakfast, break down bunks & assist cleanup, leave with your carpool.

 

What happens in those ellipses is strangely both unique and individual for everyone but also similar and shared. A strange zeitgeist emerges in an environment where every shares the same experience physically but shares non of it verbally. After the silence was broken and we began sharing our experiences, turns out a lot of us had similar ups and downs at the same times during the week. 

 

Similar milestones & drop-out points (mostly 1st time students but some experienced students describe the same):

- Day 2: WTF am I doing here? Is it really this same routine every freaking day??? How am I going to stay interested for the 10 days?

- Day 4: Last night’s lecture was all about suffering and today we have to meditate w/o moving. This is depressing… life’s not worth living this way. I should just quit if this is where this practice is taking me.

- Day 5: YES! I get it! I’ve done it! I’ve tackled the pain that creeps up when I sit, turns out it all makes sense!

- Day 6-7: Yesterday was great, but today is much slower…. I long for the momentum I had, maybe I can just leave without finishing since I had that great experience to look back on.

- Day 8-9: You’ve freaking got this, work hard, use every waking minute to squeeze as much out as you can.

- Day 10: Awkward conversations with the people you’ve been around all week but know nothing about. Oh yeah, and you speak with the same language your internal dialogue uses.

 

 

Schedule:

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell

4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room

6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break

8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall

9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions

11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break

12noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher

1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room

2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall

3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions

5:00-6:00 pm Tea break

6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall

7:00-8:15 pm Teacher's Discourse in the hall

8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall

9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall

9:30 pm Retire to your own room--Lights out

 

Reasons anyone can do this:

- Vipassana centers are litterally all over the world and transportation to them is generally free with ride-sharing.

- Vipassana is FREE, part of the principle is to live as a monk on the kindness of others so no payment necessary. They do accept donations only from those that have completed a 10-day.

- Taking this much time off (2wks) is tough for most jobs, though this will make you much better at your job, or help you put in your notice.

- I can't understate the benefits of emotional intelligence, calmness, focus, and confidence one gains from this course.  It's truly eye opening.

- There's no religious affiliation, principles discussed are buddhist but no conversion necessary to enjoy the practice.

 

Resources

Dhamma

https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index

Local Sits

http://www.mahavana.dhamma.org/public/courses/oneday/norcal-sched.shtml