My 10-Days Vipassana Meditation Experience

 It has been 10 days of my life, as I was learning how to breathe mindfully. Here’s my vipassana meditation experience and hope someday, you’ll also get to experience this.

Sometimes I feel that we get introduced to certain important concepts very late in life. Nonetheless, as they say, ‘it’s better late than never.’

I heard of ‘Vipassana’ for the first time when I was 22 years old, from a friend who claimed that his life had changed immensely after he tried out this particular form of meditation.

He went for this 10-days rigorous meditation practice after his mother passed away, and he was having difficulty accepting the futility of life.

As I listened to his experiences, I was moved by one fact – how he talked about being mindful about the moment – this particular moment – and our breath which we are barely conscious of.

To be honest, I opted to attend the Vipassana Meditation Course, just for the sake of experiencing it.

I had no idea how it would impact my life, in fact, I didn’t really think much about it. I just went with the flow and jumped into the deeper waters that brought me closer to myself.

Before I share my Vipassana meditation experience, I would like to tell you a bit about what exactly Vipassana is.

It is known to be one of the oldest Buddhist meditation practices, where one has cut himself/herself from the external world, training one’s mind, and entails a set of exercises that are dedicated to making one more and more aware of his or her life experiences.

To put it simply, it’s an inward journey that helps us to know ourselves in better lights, and to understand the biggest fact of life – impermanence.

My Vipassana meditation experience

Vipassana, as a meditation practice, has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years.

While the tradition dates back to ancient times, the modern technique of Vipassana was popularized by S.N. Goenka – who not only spread the words in India but all across the globe.

I chose the Jaipur Center in Rajasthan, India, which is also known as ‘Dhamma Thali’ which was in a pristine location, surrounded by the Aravallis on all sides.

On arrival, I was asked to fill a form stating that I’ll abide by the guidelines of the Vipassana center, respect the path of Buddhism, and maintain silence.

We were given lockers to keep our mobile phones and other belongings that could distract our minds.

It was just clothes that we were allowed to take with us, and everyone was allotted a separate room with a bathroom.

It was the perfect example of simple living that was supposed to be the main ingredient of being mindful.

Also, we were instructed to not look at anyone (as eye contact can lead to an exchange of emotions) or smile at someone.

We weren’t allowed to read or write, to let out our emotions. Instead, the idea was to feel those emotions and deal with them, internally.

Being humans, we always keep seeking peace from the outside world. We always look out for a shoulder to cry on, or head out for vacations to recover from a heartbreak, so on and so forth.

This was the first time when I was realizing that the solutions to the hardest problems are within me.

I can be my own problem-solver. All I needed was to awaken the power within myself.

It’s not just mental health that we had to focus on, but physical health as well. We were served what they called ‘Sattvik’ food – which is basically a low-calorie plant-based diet.

Generally, in life, we don’t pay much attention to what we consume, especially in today’s date when most of us are hugely dependent on junk food! During the Vipassana course, we had lighter meals, with less salt and sugar.

To put it in short, it wasn’t just simple living – but minimalist living as well.

For the next 10 days, our daily routine used to be like this:

4:00 am – Morning wake-up bell
4:30 – 6:30 am – Meditation
6:30 – 8:00 am – Breakfast
8:00 – 11:00 am – Guided meditation
11:00 -1 2:00 pm – Lunch break
12:00 – 1:00 pm – Resting time (one could talk to the Masters during this time)
1:00 – 2:30 pm – Guided Meditation
5:00 – 6:00 pm – Dinner
6:00 – 7:00 pm – Guided meditation
7:00 – 8:15 pm – Teacher’s Discourse
8:15 – 9:00 pm – Guided meditation
9:00 – 9:30 pm – Talking to the Masters (optional)
9:30 pm – Retire to your room

For someone like me, who had never meditated before in life, sitting at a stretch for more than 10 hours on a daily basis seemed difficult in the beginning – but I soon realized that it wasn’t impossible.

Every morning, they used to ring bells outside the rooms to wake us up. I shall not lie, but there were a couple of days (or maybe more) when I had slept off in the morning meditation session.

But slowly, I was getting hold of my breath in a way I never did. Just imagine, I was 22 and this was the first time when I felt good about being alive.

I learnt to appreciate my breath – as I consciously inhaled and exhaled. I was becoming conscious of myself – of my mind, body and soul.

Each day’s meditation had a deeper meaning and by the end of the day, the focus was on impermanence.

Throughout those 10 days, we were taught that now is the moment when we are breathing, and we are alive – and none knows what the next moment holds for us.

What is there now, might not be there in the next moment. So all we can do is, live this moment.

The guided meditations were a blessing, especially for someone like me who was novice to the entire concept. Let me share one interesting incident with you.

So, one day, during the discourse, I was trying to be extremely mindful but felt weird cramps on my legs.

It seemed like I could sit no longer and coincidentally, the discourse mentioned that we all suffer from pain, but mostly, we think that it’s just me who’s suffering as we look around and find others at peace.

But that’s not the truth. Everyone has their own problems (and pains) – so we should be more empathetic towards others.

They say that the 3rd and the 7th day of those 10 days are the hardest – and if you survive those days, you’re stronger than you consider yourself to be.

As I sat there, silent and still, looking within myself, my whole life flashed in front of me.

I relived all those beautiful days with my grandparents; my childhood that was filled with love and laughter; my school days when I excelled in my studies; falling in love and having a heartbreak; my father’s death and how life changed over the years.

I slowly started accepting that we can’t hold onto things – and we should learn to let go. It wouldn’t be an easy process but through practice, we can excel.

We learned about cultivating inner peace which rests at the core of our being, and the process of quieting the mind and detaching from the world around us leads to a greater awareness of this peace.

However, in spite of all those beautiful changes that knocked my doors, I did have bad thoughts too.

I felt broken at times, I cried my heart out, I bathed for hours late at night but then, I again came in terms with the fact of life – nothing’s gonna last forever!

Vipassa is a path towards self-liberation, and it follows what is known as “The Middle Way.”

While there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ path to follow, the aim is always to raise your awareness and become more mindful of your thoughts and experiences in the present moment. As they say, ‘Forever is now’.

 

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