I returned home from 10 days of silence yesterday. From Vipassana.
And after moving gently around this apartment for a little while, still adjusting to the sound of the traffic outside, I switched on my computer and read this epic post by Susana, where in detail, she describes her wild Vipassana experience three years ago.
Reading it, and with my own experience still so obviously fresh in my mind, it’s as though I was still there; hearing the same gong as she did, walking to the right side of the hall, as she did, taking my seat in the second to back row, as she did. Still observing my breathe continuously, still observing the sensations in my body that became more and more acute, more and more fluid as the time went on.
It all sounds very serene and zen. Very right-up-my-ally. But 100 hours of meditation in ten days was no easy feat. It was outrageously challenging. Incredibly intense. There was resistance and friction. I had hard-pressing questions bubble up from within, regularly.
I went into Vipassana with zero expectations, and for that, I’m glad. This in fact was not about omm-ing. Not about connecting to Spirit. Not about channeling information from a higher place (although I certainly experienced moments of mega clarity). Vipassana is a technique which takes ten days to learn, and it’s all about understanding the ‘truth’ pertaining to the framework of this physical body. No philosophies. No blind faith. Just awareness of the natural breath, and the sensations- both pleasant and unpleasant- that course around the body.
There were times I was so frustrated that I could do was squeeze out a few tears. At other times, the compulsory one hour sittings in the hall would melt into buzzing frenzy in my body that I swear lasted only ten minutes. It was easy. It was gut-wrenching intense. It was all of it.
I walk away from Vipassana with an outstanding tool to keep in my belt, but I’ll also remember it for the sweet, simple things. Like waking up to the gong. Like watching the clouds over the mountain in front of us turn pink as the sun set; all of us sitting there, on the grass, sipping our hot tea, feeling grateful, marvelling at the beauty at something that was so close to us, but still so far away, out there, in the outside world.
Being silent for ten days made me feel more like an animal. When you strip away the voice and the iPhone, you feel primal. So I found myself staring at the kangaroos and smiling, thinking Hey, friend.
I missed laughter. At one stage, in the hall, during one of the evening discourses, an underbelly of laughter erupted and it felt so mischievously naughty to indulge in a good giggle- kinda like when you’re in school and you start laughing during the national anthem. I literally wrapped my scarf around my face five times to hold the laughter…
Moving forward, a dedication to practice feels like a gently burning fire in my belly. I feel forever changed. Forever grateful.
If you have any particular questions regarding my time at this retreat, don’t hesitate to ask, below, and I’ll be sure to answer you in the comments.
Now. ‘Scuse me- time to shave my legs. Long overdue.
**Updated- more from my experience below