10 days of silence.... could you do it?
In 2000 I did a Vipassana course, I wanted to find a way to meditate, I had tried for so long and also , my Heomeopath suggested it would go well with Classical Heomeopathy. I began a journey of turning my health around as I had a bad thyroid problem and it was affecting my physical and emotional health.
I gave up my thyroxine with the guidance of my Hoemeopath and began a very tough journey, now my thyroid is doing well as am I , don’t get me wrong I have to keep my stress levels down.
Back to Vipassana, the main thing I learnt was to meditate, but also that meditating is hard work, the perception that meditation is a waste of time or lazy is incorrect.
Vipassana like yoga are working hard to connect with self and to gain a better understanding of self.
“Practicing Yoga and Vipassana: A Mindfulness Meditation Retreat. ... While vipassana is often considered a mind practice, the Buddha taught that the physical body, with its ever-changing flood of sensations, is a potent doorway to understanding the true nature of our selves and of the world”.28 Aug 2007 (https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/teaching-yoga-and-vipassana)
My first 10 day silent retreat was life changing for me I found the technique to be very helpful in making huge shifts in the way I related to people and the world. Each day is an amazingly hard and challenging event, bringing your own unique experience but also a shared experience.
At the end of the day there is a discourse about how the day probably was for you and it is often funny as everyone has a similar experience on each given day.
I remember on day 3 I wanted to jump the fence and run home to my daughter who was only 8 at the time, I felt like a terrible mother, I got through this as each meditation changes the way you feel, my sense of desperate need to be with her lifted and I remembered why I was there, to grow , to be a better mother and person to be stronger in my self, and that she was safe with her dad.
I did my course in Queensland although I was living in Perth and it was spring, it was an amazing reminder each time I came out of the hall the weather had changed, I remember I would come out and sit with the kangaroos then they would be gone next time! It reminded me of the teaching of impermanence and our clinging to aversion or craving.
I will never forget the 4th day which is Vipassana day, for three days you learn with guidance to observe your breath, then you learn to observe your sensations.
the door to the hall was shut and all were asked to stay in the hall until the hour was over. We were then guided to take our pin point (by three days)concemtration, to the top of our heads and begin to observe.... it was so intense, we then began to sweep through our body’s like they were conduits for energy sweeping up and down. One then can hit a point of pain a big sensation, these are known as sancaras your,told to observe but not to engage in any thoughts or reactions and it will change..... often it dissipates or gets worse and at times, I had to wait until the hour was up to get up and it would immediately go, just to return when I next sat! The intensity of my sit on that day blew my mind I felt like a rock and then,I felt so light.
For the next 5 days you continue to do this, I had many an experience, films in front of my eyes, pains I never knew I could sit with, at one point my legs hurt so much I had to open my eye as I thought they were turning black,burnt!..... they were not of course, yet another reminder to not get attached.
Day 10 is loving kindness day and you begin to talk again, this is very intense and very exciting, I remember having so many ideas and creative thoughts.
What Vipassana taught me was that I am more able to know the separateness of my self from others feelings, I can only work with my sensations and observe my self and how I interact.
It has given me more understanding of our need to become attached to someone or something and realise this is not necessary and that although we can love and care we are each separate and responsible for our own emotions,sensations and actions.
I went on to do 2 retreats in Perth and one in The UK in Hereford, I also did one day in Ibiza on a 10 day retreat after my father died. and some 3 day retreats in Perth.
once you have done a ten day you become an Old Meditator and you are able to dip into 10 day retreats.
serving is also something I did and this is an amazing experience.