Many people have asked me what my experience was like at the Vipassana 10-Day Silent Meditation Course. On one hand, I am writing this article because I want to share briefly what Vipassana Meditation is, and how my experience was participating in this. But really deep down inside, I want to mainly explain WHY I would recommend doing a 10-Day Vipassana Meditation.
Four weeks ago, I quit a secure job of as an Architect and just a day after that, I was off to participate in a 10-Day Silent Meditation Course. I thought this would be a great way to transition into my new life as a life coach and to inspire others to have the courage to live a life true to themselves. Without doing any research about the Vipassana Meditation, I just decided to go for it, how bad could it be; meditating everyday sounded amazing!
However, I had no idea how difficult this journey would be. I realized this quickly the night before the actual first day that we were supposed to start. We had to meditate in a group in the meditation hall for 1 hour by just observing the breath, which was torturous. My feet kept falling asleep, and my mind kept getting distracted. I used to meditate every day before attending this 10-Day course, but it was only for 30minutes and it was mostly a guided meditation. I had no idea that it was going to be this tough to stay present in the room and to focus on my respiration.
One thing that anyone who decides to do this will need to know (and will develop a lot more of as a result), is the sheer self-discipline and patience one needs to acquire to get through the 10-Day Vipassana Meditation. I was waking up every day at 4am, meditating for 10 hours a day, not speaking or looking at anyone, not eating dinner, and most of all, doing all this while being away from home and my loved ones. I can say, it was the most difficult experience of my life. What helped me to stay on track and to keep going was maintaining a balanced mind with an end goal and result in mind, which was, my commitment to go through the whole experience and learn Vipassana technique of meditation for my future practices.
I suggest, once you decide to go through the 10-day meditation, make the best use of it; meditate in the meditation hall with everyone else and sit as long as possible before taking any breaks. Most of the time it’s too painful to sit for one whole hour before taking a break, but you are there to see results, so you got to work hard for it. This will help you to develop discipline and a mind power to keep going while difficulties in one’s life arises.
By the fourth day, you start to learn the actual Vipassana Meditation technique. Three times in a day, you have to commit to meditate for 1 hour without moving any of your body parts (The other 7 hours of meditation in the day, you can move your body parts when you start feeling uneasy). Usually after 30 minutes, every part of your body is screaming for help, but you slowly build a determination to not move and just observe the pain without reacting. I realized here, that you are reprogramming your deep subconscious mind to break any habit of reacting to avoid pain at all costs. Instead, you slowly grow internally to not react and to actually accept the situation as is in that moment.
The 2 most important things that you are practicing everyday through Vipassana are:
Equanimity (Balance of Mind)
By observing the body’s sensation, you are bringing your awareness to your present moment. You are taping deep into the subconscious mind through a balanced mind to reprogram it to keep going when times get rough. Once you observe the pain arise in your legs and other body parts, you will see that the pain dissipates by not reacting and magnifying the sensation itself. Your subconscious mind relearns that we don’t have to react to every situation in our lives and that nothing is permanent and everything is continually changing.
During my whole experience, I just wanted the 10 days to be over, I kept telling myself that this is exactly how prisoners must feel. You have to do the same routine every day, except that this is even worse because you are being forced to sit and endure physical pain for 10 hours every day. My only hope and mental relieve during this time was that this was only going to last for 10 days. I kept telling myself over and over that, “Armita, you get to go home and enjoy your life after these 10 days, so stay strong.” I remember feeling like every 1-minute felt more like 1-hour. This excruciating feeling lasted until the actual 7th day, where I started to finally feel a sense of peace of being in the present. It was like something magical, a feeling of extreme peace, where I had a choice of having that present moment in hand to truly enjoy and cherish or to waste it by thinking about the future.
We human beings tend to go through life without learning how to live in the present moment. It starts early, right in the 1st year of our lives, where we want to be grown up like others. By the time we reach our teenage years, this feeling perpetuates itself, where we want the greater freedom of being able to drink, get into nightclubs, and supposedly be happy because of it. So, 21 years of age, becomes a future target in our lives. Then, when we are finally 21 years old, we look deeper and further into our future by wanting to meet the right person and to think about building a family of our own. If happiness was fleeting up until that point, we think the latter is the gateway to true happiness. Then we get married and want to have kids to be happier. When the kids do come along into our lives, we want them to grow up and go off to college so we can travel and be happy. You know that dream, where we long to retire from our jobs and we can finally travel the world, finally have some peace of mind and be happy. This obsession with a future and fictitious emotions associated with it absorbs us. I realized during this 10 Day Meditation my mind was automatically wired to do exactly what I am now describing, unconsciously planning the next 10 days while I was sitting through my meditation sessions.
So many people ask me, “Why meditate? I don’t need to meditate, it’s a waste of time.”
Our mind is the source of everything, source of every thought which leads to every action and every word. We usually take the least care of our mind, not knowing that our mind is the seed of our origin. So many of us are willing to exercise our body and to eat nutritious food to achieve a healthy body, but we don’t realize that a healthy body without a healthy internal force grounding it is no good. Work on your mind through meditation. This 10 Day Vipassana Meditation is a great way to learn the technique of training your mind through observing your respiration and physical sensations without any judgments. This simple method is life changing and can be applied to your daily life.