24 June 2013

Self Centred: Vipassana!

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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

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    • Jessie @undermybodhitree
      24 June 2013

      Hi Tara, just wondering when you say you meditated for 10 hours a day, was it concentrated-sitting-in-a-hall kind of meditation or more like dispersed bits of seated focused meditation and all day mindfulness meditation? Really considering attending a vipassana retreat but still wanting to see if I am ready and its what I need right now or if I should put it off until I'm truly ready to get the most benefit. Glad you found it to be a worth while experience xo

    • 24 June 2013

      Oh Tara <3 <3 I have always read in awe about Vipassana and had the most burning curiosity to go, to be, to engage with the program...I've read plenty of (not a shit tonne, but enough) testimonals to it and most have been HOLY SHIT IT CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVERRR kinda ones. I loved their journey and experience of that but I wondered, was 10 days of silence really going to do that for me. YOUR post however has been the most raw, most honest and most real account I've read of it yet and if any have inspired me to do it more than ever - it's your account, your words and your experience with it. Thank you for sharing your story ... I bet you were glad to get back to Farmer Glen and your space online (I certainly missed you!) xxx

    • 24 June 2013

      Beautiful my lovely- wow, it sounds like such an amazing experience. I can almost sense that you're still in a bit of beautiful daze as you're writing your post!

      I was just wondering why you decided to do Vipassana and what you hoped to get from it? It's something I've been looking in to as well.

      Thank you my darling- looking forward to hearing more of your insights! xx

    • Emma @ Girlsaysgo
      24 June 2013

      Wow Tara, that's so awesome. Congrats on going. I remember you talking about it at dinner. That's amazingly awesome. :)

    • 24 June 2013

      This was such a beautiful read. Your description of pulling your scarf over your face to cover the laughter, made me laugh. It's in those moments that it's even harder to suppress the giggles, isn't it?! But it feels like such childishly good giggles. I went to a 3 day yoga retreat a few years ago. I remember the long yoga/meditation period before breakfast and how I'd start to wonder if anyone else could hear my stomach growling! And my friend and I smuggled a little fudge to the vegan camp and felt so ridiculously cheeky. So glad you got so much out of it.

    • 26 June 2013

      Wow Tara, this sounds like such an amazing experience- I admire your dedication.
      It seems as though you've taken some life-long lessons from these 10 days, how amazing!
      I love the way you write so truthfully and knew EXACTLY what you meant when you spoke about covering your moth to prevent the laughter outburst. I started giggling myself at the thought.
      Such a gorgeous post- made a lovely read xxx

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