10 Day Vipassana Silent Retreat Review
Living by the gong. 10 (almost) days of silence Vipassana review PART 1 (of 2)
**SPOILER WARNING** Already had a ton of people private message me questioning “did you find it too hard and quit?”
No I did not, I had to look after my daughter this weekend, but even without that I would not have needed 10 days in my opinion.
Ask friends. Ask spiritual mates what Vipassana is all about and you don’t get too much feedback as to what happens during a 10 day retreat, least of all what it’s all about technique wise.
Being one to always want to share a truth, my truth.. this was my experience of the silent retreat and what was covered.
BULLET POINTS OF WHAT A 10 DAY RETREAT ENTAILS:
1. No speech aside from talking to the teacher during question time at lunch and maybe one of the runners if you’re in desperate need of something
2. Meditation schedule as follows daily:
4am wake up
4.30 – 6.30 meditation in your room or in the main meditation hall
6.30am – 7.15am breakfast
7.15 – 8am chill time
8am – 9am meditation in the hall
9 – 11am meditation in your room or in the main meditation hall
11 – 11.45 lunch
11.45 – 2.30 meditation in your room or in the main meditation hall
2.30 – 3.30pm meditation in the hall
3.30 – 5 pm meditation in your room or in the main hall
5 – 5.30pm 2 pieces of fruit and some tea (just 2nd time round students)
5.30 – 7.30 meditation in your room or in the main meditation hall
7.30pm – 9pm evening discourse
9 – 9.30pm meditation in the main meditation hall
A good 10+ hours of meditation each day! (close to 13.5 if you’re really committed at opportunity)
3. Lots of sitting in cross legged position and therefore lots of back pain no matter how seasoned you are at sitting!
4. Men and Women segregated. On our retreat anyway. Couldn’t see WHY until day 4 when I was starting to look at the less well built guys differently 😛
5. No reading, writing or anything other than meditation or the evening discourse (basically watch a video and learn more about Vipassana theories)
6. No connection with the outside world.
7. Boundaries as to where you can go in the grounds. No leaving site etc..
As I shared in my Facebook post on the day I was travelling to the retreat in Hereford, I had no worries about being silent for 10 days, but what did come up for me was the feeling of being controlled. 10 days of silence. Cool. Take away all my electronic goods because you don’t feel I can be trusted not to use them (there was no phone signal at all there anyway), brought up some stuff for me around feeling controlled.
++ THE NIGHT BEFORE ++
That night having put all our electronic and communication items into a locker within a cupboard that was then to be locked, we met in the hall and found ourselves met with forms to fill out.
I left the part that said “do you agree to be here for 10 days?” blank, but ticked the rest of the boxes. My gut just told me I wouldn’t be there the whole time.
Later on we are having a meal of gorgeous tasting soup. A girl sits opposite me for a chat. A guy dressed as a chefs helper immediately runs over and tells the girl that she needs to stay on the women’s side.
An hour later they’d segregated off the hall and from that moment on it was just “us” men.
I was then 1 of 3 asked to check my form as it hadn’t been filled out properly. How could I agree to stay somewhere for 10 days if it’s sh*t? I’ll agree to commit, but my gut instinct is good and the days of doing something I don’t want to do are gone. I just had a feeling anyway that I wouldn’t be there the whole time.
That night we went to the meditation hall and watched the first video with S.N.Goenke.
++ DAY 1 DISCOURSE ++ “He had me at HELLO”
By discourse, I mean, we watched a 1.5 hour video from S.N.Goenke (a teacher of Vipassana from India) each night on an aspect of what we were learning.
I had never looked into these techniques or heard of this guy S.N.Goenke at all, but he started off talking about purifying the mind VS cleansing the mind.
I was excited as in this spiritual/personal development world I’ve gotten to the point of acceptance that most people in this space teach and use “coping” mechanisms rather than actual tools that release a meaning, belief or trauma from it’s root, therefore actually releasing it for good.
AGAIN meditation to me never made sense as if you’re visualising something, you’d doing exactly that, you’re visualising not connecting with your body. The meditation we were about to learn he said “to know thyself, not just working at the surface level of mind”.
I don’t know who this guy is, but I’m loving him already.
“There’s a difference between knowing and experiencing it”. Yes Goenke! You de man! That’s what I’m talking about!
“Sages, Saints.. know thyself. It’s your truth. Not what someone has told you is your truth”. OMG this guys is saying all the things I feel to be true and more people need to embrace rather than external personal and spiritual development techniques that are rife in this industry.
“Is he just trying to impress me on the first date?!”
Truly though I do believe and it’s one of the reason I will always ask a mentee or a client to come to me with what they think is happening or why something is showing up rather than just to ask me to give them a reading before they’ve felt into it first themselves.
Anybody can go to a psychic, get a reading. Go to a healer and get a healing, but if you don’t learn to use your own compass at some point, to sharpen your own intuition and discernment for truth, then you’ll constantly be reliant on others to grow and you won’t grow as rapidly.
AND as for knowing VS experiential. I could talk about this for 1000’s of words, but essentially, in my view, the best way to release/heal a trauma, belief etc is to get into your body and experience your bodies feeling/relationship to “it”. Then the healing/release truly occurs at the deepest level as you go beyond the surface level of the mind.
S.N Goenke is saying exactly this and that “Buddha” tried over 2,500 techniques and found this one to be the best one to go below the surface level healing.
THE TECHNIQUE WE LEARNED
Day 1 we are focusing on our breath, but only in the concentrated area in and around the nostrils rather than all the way down into the diaphragm, lungs and stomach. The aim then is to be able to pay attention to this area and for your thoughts pulling you away from this to lessen more so each time you go through the meditation.
Each meditation lasted an hour or more (as above).
I haven’t struggled with being quiet, although i’m missing humour. Someone farted abruptly and loudly in the toilet. It just felt wrong to not be able to laugh and make a comment #BigKid
That night I was desperate for the toilet and struggling to sleep. I’m the only one in my dorm with light coming through my window and you can pretty much see my shadow up on my curtain separating me and everyone else.
I sit up naked, contemplating getting dressed and making the 5 minute walk to the toilet when I hear:
“OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT”
In that moment I realise I’m sat on the corner of my single bed, naked, with my penis (let’s call him Pete from here on in).. ummm on show shall we say.
I get back into bed and wait it out. Feels strange not being to speak. my psychic ability is out the window as I contemplate whether he just saw the outline of me and “Pete” or if something else has happened…
The rain intensifies and I hear nothing else other than the rain crashing down on the corrugated iron roof. It takes me hours to fall asleep. I practice the mediation we’ve been shown till I finally do.
++ DAY 2 ++
I’m thankfully used to getting up around 4am, but I’m not used to 3 sets of alarms from other people going off to let me know what time it is.
#Control program coming up 😛
I do my meditation for nearly the full 2 hours and feel a lot of buzzing and tingling around my body, particularly around my nose and pallet.
I head down for breakfast. I’m not used to eating so early (afternoon time is normally my first meal of the day) and It leaves me feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
TO BE CONTINUED……