Mumbai, India. Ten days. No talking. No eye contact.
No cell phone, no computer. No books. No journals. No pen. No paper.
Just silence and stillness and sitting meditation.
Myself and my thoughts. Going deeper. Ten hours of meditation per day.
It was one of the most challenging and painful, yet wonderful and sublime experiences of my life.
Vipassana – the silent meditation retreat – the practice first established by Buddha 2600 years ago.
The idea of Vipassana is to see reality as it is, not as we like it to be, or as we want it to be, or as it seems to be, or as it appears to be, but AS IT IS.
There are two parts or skills sets developed through Vipassana:
- Sharpening your awareness. Observing and becoming aware of the sensations going on through your body and the thoughts going on through your mind.
- Building equanimity (or non-reaction or neutrality) to those sensations through the body and thoughts coming and going.
The wisdom gained through Vipassana is to learn the Law of the Universe, the Law of Nature on the experiential level. This law is:
The Law of Impermanence (called Antiya or Aniccha in Buddhism).
Everything arises and everything passes away.
Whether it be sensations (pain or pleasurable) in the body or thoughts (good or bad) in our mind. They arise, they pass away. This rhythm is also evident in the cycles of life: Life and death, day and night, summer and winter, etc.
By observing these thoughts and sensations, we become aware of craving the pleasurable sensations/thoughts and aversions to the painful sensations and dislikable thoughts.
These cravings and aversions to our thoughts/sensations are reactions (also called sankaras in Buddhism). They are the positive or negative attachments we have to thoughts or feelings. The stories we might keep telling ourselves.
Craving can lead to clinging which leads to deep attachment which leads to suffering. Aversion can lead to frustration which can lead to stress or depressed state of mind.
Being centered, neutral, equanimous (non-reactive) to our thoughts and sensations is the goal of the Vipassana student.
During the ten days I failed, utterly.
But I became more aware. I react less.
Failure doesn’t always mean failure.
Failure plus reflection equals progress.
Just keep observing.
P.S. More stories to come regarding my own personal experience during this ten day silent meditation marathon.