10 Days of Noble Silence

10 Days of Noble Silence

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 –

  • Vipassana is a path that only you can travel for yourself and I am glad I attended a course.
  • The vegetarian food they prepare for you while you are there is wonderful! You never feel deprived or like you are eating cafeteria food. In fact, on the last day, when you can finally talk, many of us were asking for recipes!
  • One of the most special parts of the course are the evening discourses by S.N. Goenka. They are like watching a cross between the Discovery Channel and Comedy Central.

You will have to take my word for it or attend a course for yourself!

Namaste,

Sharon

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