December 20, 2013
I did it! I completed my first 10 day Vipassana Meditation Retreat (I know that implies I will do it again … I probably will). It was an amazing experience, one of the most challenging things I have ever done, and I’m thankful I did it. That said, here are a few things I jotted down when I got home in hopes of sharing a little of my experience with friends and family.
The first four days were by far the most difficult. Meditating 10 hours a day is not for the faint of heart. My mind was determined I would not sit in peace. The stream of thoughts was as steady as the flow of the Mississippi. I often felt like my head was literally spinning the thoughts were coming so rapidly. At the same time the thoughts were erratic, I would go from remembering a childhood spat (45 years is a long time to hold a grudge) to thinking about grandkids (which I don’t even have!). Finally, lights out would come and I would lay in bed, my mind not yet ready to let me rest, as the thoughts would continue flowing. I have no idea when I would finally fall asleep, but the chimes sounded everyday at 4am … time to start again.
If that were not challenging enough, noble silence for a girl from the South is tough. No speech, no eye contact, no gestures. Each time I would pass someone and not be able to say ‘hello’ or not say ‘thank you’ to someone for holding a door open, I would tremble. I was certain any minute Scarlett O’Hara would pop out from behind a corner and damn me to burn in hell with Tara. Luckily, Scarlett never found me.
Ahhh, day five and I finally got a glimpse of the peace of Vipassana. I actually had a few fleeting moments between the mind chatter, where I could feel the quiet inside. It was also the first day I was able to sit for a whole hour, focus on my breath, and not move around like a break dancer on steroids. Days six and seven were a lot different than the first four days with periods of a quiet mind. I sometimes still found myself struggling to stay present and fighting the craving for the peace I had begun to experience on day five.
Day eight was my ah-ha day. A calm and quiet mind and I could actually feel the energy flowing through my body. From crown to toes, toes to crown, my whole body felt peaceful. I wanted to stay in that place (craving again), and as soon as I did, the pain would start and I would have the urge to break dance. Re-focus on my breath, quiet the mind, and the energy would again begin to flow. It was an amazing and beautiful day.
Days nine and ten were a bit like the last week of school. You passed your final, you know it’s almost over, and your mind begins to plan your vacation. Thoughts were flowing again, I struggled to stay present, to focus on my breath. At times I would be present, aware and connected; I had learned to be kind to myself, to observe without judgement even when I was dancing.
A couple of other thoughts on the course –
You will have to take my word for it or attend a course for yourself!