I attended a ten-days silent Vipassana meditation retreat in 2017 in Leh-Ladakh(India) – 10 days without technology, speaking, reading, writing, listening to music, exercising, or communicating in any way. Oh, and of course, close to 11 hours of meditating a day.
In this article, I’ll share my detailed experiences with you. This involves flow experiences, seemingly intolerable back and neck pain, fighting with boredom, finding out how meditation can help , and much more.
This was the meditation hall
But first, what is Vipassana? How does it work? What’s the point of it?
What is Vipasana ?
Vipassana, which means seeing things as they really are, is one of the world’s most popular meditation techniques. It was supposedly taught by Buddha himself in India more than 2500 years ago.
How Does It Work? The Precepts and Course Rules.
For starters, attendees of a Vipassana course must undertake five precepts for the duration of the course:
1) to abstain from killing anything even just a ant
2) to abstain from stealing;
3) to abstain from all sexual activity;
4) to abstain from telling lies;
5) to abstain from all intoxicants.
Attendees should also adhere to the following rules, if you fail to follow to rules you will get warring but if you keep failing to follow the rules, they will ask you to leave.
· Noble silence. Students must observe noble silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. This means any form of communication with fellow meditators – whether by gestures, written notes, eye contact, or sign language – is prohibited. (You can talk to only your teachers or course managers regarding problems)
· No rituals, or other religious ceremonies
· No mixing of techniques
· Separation of Women and Men.
· No physical exercise.
· No smoking, drinking, or other drugs.
· Clothing should be comfortable, simple, and modest.
· No phone, no internet, no outside contacts
· Stay on the compound.
· No music, no reading, no writing.
Vipassana Daily Schedule:
4:00am Morning wake-up bell 4:30-6:30am Meditation 6:30-8:00am Breakfast break 8:00-9:00am Group meditation 9:00-11:00am Meditation 11:00-12:00pm Lunch break 12:00-1:00pm Rest and interviews w/ teacher 1:00-2:30pm self-practice 2:30-3:30pm Group meditation 3:30-5:00pm Meditation 5:00-6:00pm Fruit and tea break 6:00-7:00pm Group meditation 7:00-8:15pm Teacher’s Discourse 8:15-9:00pm Group meditation 9:00-9:30pm Question time 9:30pm Retire to your room–lights out
My journey and realization during 10 days of Vipassana
First 2-4 days I had to deal with my extremely over-cluttered and overactive mind. For days I was just watching my own weird mind thoughts ,it’s was like a movie all day along. That included my past traumas, the most random childhood memories, imagined future stories and what’s not. My mind was completely out of control. Then my mind finally quieted down more or less after the third day, so I could start working in earnest. As you get deeper into the technique, it sheds it’s light on the transient nature of things. As time passed, I started to re-evaluate my life, relationships and lot of other things. Observing myself more closely and deeply. There were some emotions and reactions were involved. Then I learned how I can train my mind to get out of its old patterns and become non-reactive. Realistically this will not happen in a 10 days course, but it was a great opportunity to establish your practice in an ideal environment. This was a great chance for me. The course and especially keeping up with the practice requires lot of hard work, dedication, discipline and patience. These 10 days are challenging and intense but very satisfying and peaceful in the same time. It puts things into perspective, and I definitely learned to see the world differently , the people around you and the situations you encounter in a different light. It created the much-needed space in my life, which I have to protect for the sake of my sanity and happiness. All in all, I felt safe, comfortable and peaceful. I did not miss talking at all, my phone even less.
My top 4 insights and learning 1. The Mind Is the Source of All Suffering
1. The Mind Is the Source of All Suffering
2. Our mind is powerful tool
3. I am NOT my mind
4. Nothing last forever
Picture from our last day day 11
Day 11 last day, it was amazing hearing the sound of my voice again. It was a bit shocking and weird being able to talk again with the people around me. Everyone started to tell about their experiences, and everyone had different ones.
Would I do a Vipassana silent retreat again? HELL YES.
This was the ashram where i lived for 10 days middle of no where
I’m not saying 10 days will change your life. I’m certainly no monk and I still have that inner critic and negative thoughts, I’m a human, but what it has allowed me to do is quieten those thoughts by accessing the present moment. I can look at my thoughts objectively as not being my own, which for me was liberating! Sounds easy to be present, right? I thought I was totally present until I did this course. Trust me, not until you train your mind can you fully appreciate what it’s like to be living in the now.