What is Vipassana Meditation?
Vipassana means to see things as they really are. A very simple, but far from easy meditation. More information can be found here:
This was my first 10-day silent meditation retreat.
Are you into personal development?
DO IT. Find a Vipassana center and sign up.
There is nothing more personal than taking 10 days out of your life to examine yourself.
You will either:
get a life experience to cross off and say THAT WAS STUPID.
Receive practical and foundational material to build the rest of your life on.
How Much Will This Cost You?!?!?!
10 full days for a room and food. DONATION ONLY.
Donate at the end of the course or wait to see what value to put on what was taught once you assimilate back into your life.
In theory, it could only cost your time. They don't put any pressure on you to make a donation.
DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.
TAKE ACTION = SIGN UP FOR A COURSE
You don't want to take my advice.
You have already experienced Vipassana :)
Why Don't I Want You To Read About My Experience?
I made the mistake of attaching myself to someone else's personal experience. When I wasn't experiencing what he experienced I became EXTREMELY discouraged. You could make the argument I wouldn't of learned this extremely valuable learning experience but I digress. Forget everything you read here and dive in head first into your own Vipassana Experience
8 Initial Personal Takeaways on My First Vipassana Silent Retreat
You are Your Own Teacher
Day 1 Hour 1. You are "welcomed" into the meditation hall with 40 other students. Women on one side and Men on the other. Designated mats and pillows have been laid out for us.
The male and female teachers enter. They say nothing. No thank you for joining and no congratulations on making a great choice. Not even a hello. The male teacher presses play and the meditation starts.
You are told VERY VERY VERY minimal instruction.
Every day they add a little something new but essentially you are working at the experiential level the entire time.
ADVICE: FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTION AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FOR THE 10 DAYS. Don't overthink things and don't work on other things while you are there. Subscribe to my email list to hear how I broke my advice. Figuring out how the teaching does or doesn't fit into your life should be done after the 10 days. Commit fully to what they are teaching.
Mastery at the Experiential Level
So much of my life over the past few years has been reading books, blogs, and listening to podcasts.
Understanding at an intellectual level but never experiencing the material being preached. I don't want to discount my time diving in and out of books. It was and is extremely helpful. Being more mindful around the time I spend reading is now a focal point.
John Mayer says it best. "they read all the books but they can't find the answers"
This was happening before the Vipassana retreat. However, 10 days of no cell phone/writing/reading/or anything else gave me time and space to examine at a deeper level.
ADVICE: What is the difference between diving into your smartphone to zombie out or opening a book. Honestly, not much at times. As much as possible, try to attach actionable experiences to what you are understanding at an intellectual level. Read a little and then go experience the teaching for yourself.
Shut Up and Work.
Around day 6 I wanted to leave. It wasn't because I was having an awful time; although those moments did arise. I wanted to apply what I learned to my life.
What kept me from leaving? I told myself, there is more work to be done. It was time to dig in and see what dipping my toe into the tip of the iceberg of mastery was about.
Advice: Put in the work. Work and work some more. Seek guidance only after you have put in work at the experiential level.
Emotional Swings Happen
The outside world does not make you feel happy, sad, mad, etc.
YOU MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY, SAD, MAD ETC.
All external forces of my "daily struggle" were taken away. The emotional swings still happened.
Being outside of society and on your own island makes no difference.
Advice: Experience observing your emotions.
Stay in Your Own Experience
The silence between students is extremely beneficial here.
Even with the silence, I found myself in the first few days cursing, in my head, fellow meditators. In times of agonizing pain, I would open my eyes and see 99% perfect posture.
Advice: Observe and deal with what you are experiencing. The rest is irrelevant.
Laughter is the Key To Life
At times I was extremely angry and discouraged. Sitting and doing nothing absolutely nothing for 10 hours is tough work. I would be in excruciating pain and look around the the room pissed off at what I perceived as forty others happily meditating with perfect posture. If and when I made a joke, the anger disappeared.
Advice: Observe and be able to transition from one state to the next. Don't force it but just let it pass naturally.
Almost Everything is Meaningless and Irrelevant
Depressing comment? Maybe. Or maybe it is a wake-up call.
Almost everything I was/am focusing on is meaningless. When I came out of the Vipassana 10 days of silence nothing had changed. I didn't just go to my phone; I ran to it. 10 day of not looking at a screen except for 1 hour a day half asleep for the discourse. This was after 6-10 hours a day of meditation. After taking ten minutes to quickly scroll through the hundreds of messages and notifications EVERYTHING WAS ENTIRELY MEANINGLESS or very low priority. Nothing earth shattering had happened. World War 3 didn't start. All my family members were ok.
Advice: At the end of each day judge what your day consisted of. If you aren't spending at least 50% of your day taking steps towards your goals. RESTRUCTURE!
Fight or Flight. FEAR
While deep into the Vipassana experience I was so confident in my wandering thoughts. There were so many that felt like the next GOLDEN answer for the next direction in my life. Obviously, this was the case because the external world's critics and comments have been turned off.