Jan 14th, 2012 – Dhamma Giri centre, Igatpuri (India) – It’s about 11.30am on the 10th day of a Vipassana meditation retreat and silence precept has just been removed. I walk around in search of my boyfriend, who I haven’t seen for the course duration as men and women are kept in different quarters. ‘Never allow me to do this again. If I ever suggest something similar, you have the right to physically prevent me from undertaking it!’ Those are my (almost) first words to him.
Sept 10th, 2013 – Milano (Italy) – I’ve just completed my second 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. Yeah, you’re allowed to think I’m crazy but I did it again 🙂 You wake up at 4am every morning and start meditating at 4.30am and that will go on for about 10hours each day, with short breaks for breakfast, lunch and tea time. In the evening, it’s time to listen to teachings which means you sit again. The code of discipline – that includes no talking, no physical contacts, abstaining from eating after midday, etc – is rather strict. But than… something happens.
The word Vipassana means ‘seeing things as they really are‘ and, if you are patient enough to wait a few days so you adjust to physical pain arising from being on your meditation seat so many hours and you follow the instructions, that something will start happening within you. I did not realize that till my first course was over and I was back to ‘normal’ life. The more days were passing, the more I was realizing the value of the teachings.
In my own experience, and in terms of benefits, sitting in such a course is like condensing in 10 days months of yoga asana practices. Going through it is a tremendous incubator of internal changes that inevitably leads to external changes as well. And in the craziness of all the thoughts that arise in your mind like thousands of monkeys jumping from a branch to the other, learning how not to react to them, you will discover precious moments of stillness: the monkeys disappear exhausted by all their own running and jumping. Those moments brought me back to it!
And you? I’d love to hear about your experiences so to learn more myself!
PS: If you want to know more about Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagji U Ba Kin, here the link: http://www.vridhamma.org/VRI-Introduction
PSS: if you’re a daily ashtanga yoga practitioner who is afraid of not practicing for 12 days in a row, I can bet you will have your best practice the day after the course. I’ve never found my body soooo light and bendy. In fact, Vipassana is a lot of work on the body and you won’t regret the break 😉