Vipassana Diary : 10 Learnings from 10-Day Course

Ten on Tuesdays

10 days without phone and internet.
10 days of complete silence and no talking, except for asking questions to the teachers.
10 days of no reading or TV or writing.
10 days just of meditation, silence and solitude.

Yes, all this happened last month when I went for a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course.

Here are 10 learnings from this 10 day course at this retreat…

  1. Mindfulness : Vipassana meditation is the act of formal sitting and cultivating mindfulness. In everyday life, I often multi-task. It is like I am doing something but thinking about something else. Vipassana taught me to be mindful of what I am doing, thinking, feeling at that moment. It even taught to be aware of the moments when I am not mindful and do you know that is mindfulness too.
  2. Responding rather than Reacting : More often than not, we react to situations without thinking. But if we pause, think and watch this urge of being irrational and then observe it go away, we’d be much calmer and respond better to the situation. And all this takes just a few seconds. I have realized that by practicing Vipassana, my communication with those around me is better when I respond rather than react. So, I might not have control over what happens in life, but I can certainly control the way I react.
  3. Patience and Persistence : This was something that I heard every single day of this 10 day course. And it did help in overcoming the challenges while learning the meditation technique. And yes, it works in every thing we do!
  4. I am the Cause of Suffering : It’s not the people who hurt us. What hurts is the negative emotions that we generate after they have said or done something to us. It is said that most suffering is due to the lingering attachments to unresolved negative emotion. I have this tendency to weave a web of negative emotions in my head and that results in me feeling hurt and angry. When I don’t poison my mind with these negative thoughts and emotions, I am at peace.
  5. Everything is Impermanent : Impermanence means that  everything is ephemeral and is always changing. And this helps to move on. Whether, we experience something good or bad, it will not remain the same. So, it’s important to not cling to anger or resentment, fear or even happiness.
  6. Loving the Solitude : With Aaryan studying in a boarding school and KG busy with his work till evening, when I am not traveling for work, I have the entire day to myself. During this entire day, I keep myself busy doing things I love. I cherish this time, for I have books, music, TV, cooking, blog, phone, Facebook, Twitter, household chores to keep me occupied. But in these 10 days at the retreat, I just had I, Me and Myself for company. And I must say that I liked my company. There were times when happy thoughts would run in my mind and sometimes I had pity party with sad memories and sometimes created a battlefield in my head with angry thoughts. I was actually forced to reflect on myself and on my thoughts and also to love and accept who I am!
  7. Adaptation : I remember reading this quote somewhere, ‘After awhile you could get used to anything.’ And I experienced this for so many things in these 10 days. The first was the food… Breakfast at 6.30 am, Lunch at 11 am and just Tea with a light snack at 5 pm. I thought, I would not survive, for I get up breakfast time and breakfast is at lunch time and dinner is not light as it is the main meal at our home, but I survived without any hitch! Then not letting the mind to wander for long, sitting for long hours and sitting absolutely still for an hour, sleeping early and getting up early… I did it all without any hassle. So, we can get used to anything, if we try!
  8. Equanimity : Our emotions keep changing with the ups and downs of life. We jump with joy for a happy situation and become miserable if something bad happens to us. All this is the cause of suffering and pain. Equanimity is to observe and feel things, it is acceptance of these emotional vagaries, without getting attached to the cravings or aversions, we’d be better people. I find a lot of value in this and I am trying to practice it.
  9. Learning to Fail :  With Vipassana meditation I realized that I was constantly failing.  Quieting the mind, focusing on the breath, sitting still, being equanimous, enjoying the solitude, following the code of discipline… It did not come easily to me. It all came to me after failing and then persevering. These constant failings made my belief firm that failures are part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you’ll never change.
  10. I am the master of my own mind. My life is the creation of my mind and I have the power to control it and use it wisely.

I am glad that I got an opportunity to do this Vipassana meditation course. It was challenging, but it was truly an insightful and amazing experience. I know, that I will be going for this 10 day retreat, again!

Have you tried Vipassana before? Or any other form of mediations? Does this path of life interest you?

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34 thoughts on “Vipassana Diary : 10 Learnings from 10-Day Course

  1. All those 10 points are so wise to everyday living Shilpa thank you. I think this was the Buddha’s purpose i.e. to alleviate suffering by our understanding of what goes on in our heads much of the time. Response vs reaction, impermanence .. all of them. Yes I practice TM and have for a zillion years. Everything we do and be is a form of meditation if we can be present to it.

    • Agree with you completely, Susan and you have articulated it so well. It’s so wonderful that you have been practicing TM. I heard that it is another great technique to avoid distracting thoughts and having a relaxed mind with self awareness. Thanks for sharing your insights, Susan ♥

    • I know what you mean, Roshan. I thought that I would be like a fish without water without my books, gadgets etc. But believe me, once you go with an open mind, you find that all your doubts were unfounded. You can do it!!

  2. I am sure it has had a positive impact on your mind Shilpa….The way you have summarized the learnings show the depth of how much you have achieved in the ten days….Again, great to know that you managed to complete it! Awesome!

  3. That sounds like a set of amazing learnings and takeaways. I am glad you were able to go. First we fight with the chaos and then we accept and then in the last stage, we start drawing energy out of that. Humans are adaptive so such courses help us be better version of ourselves.

  4. My aunt and cousins rave about this and have told me to go for it so many times! But for some reason, I’ve never had the urge. Don’t know why. I think it’s mainly what they’ve told me about the bland food 😀

    On a serious note, I think you need that calling, for you to want to sign up and experience these things. I’ll wait for mine.

    • Agree with you! You need to get that urge/desire from within to do this course or rather anything in life. LOL, no, the food is not bland but yes it is vegetarian! 🙂

  5. Wow! This sounds like it was a great experience for you. I have been wanting to get into meditation. Thank you for sharing the lessons that you learned throughout your meditation journey:)

  6. Great life lessons there…only thing is we need to practice it all well!
    That learning to fail is quite important and I also feel Letting go is another great thing…but quite difficult to practice when we’re in the midst of a situation.

    • Yes, practicing it back in our daily life is the key!
      I struggled with letting go, but I have seen that when we practice it, it’s so good for our sanity and peace of mind too!

  7. It has been on my mind since a long time – attending the Vipassana Course. All the points you spoke about are what we need to work upon, each one of us. And, after reading your post, my resolve has only gotten stronger, that soon I am going to attend this 10 day course.
    Where did you attend it, Shilpa? Could you please share the details?
    Of course, it’s not going to be very soon that I will be attending, as I cannot be leaving Chikoo for so long, not in his delicate state. But, I would like the information, for sure.
    Thank you!

  8. Perfect 10 shilpa, and very beautifully summarised; I was very fascinated by the impermanence of everything in the universe and it did make a lot of sense, and continues to do so even now when I reflect about it. I am still in the process of learning; and recently I attended a mindfulness workshop and so much focus was on observing and being aware of self and everything you do.. . It was not difficult for me and I could do it easily, thanks to vipassana. The most important thing I learnt was to stop blaming in my life; and learnt to take total responsibility for my self, my thoughts, feelings and behaviour, which made me a positive and proactive person and I am grateful for the gurus and goenkaji (very inspired by his discourses). Everyday I used to feel he is talking directly to me and answering all my questions and I used to sleep so well, even lost a few kgs of weight and my skin was glowing with the diet and the ambience so great. I look forward to go as a family.

    • I really like the things you learnt, Genevive. Yes, we ourselves are responsible for our misery! I must say that course is truly inspiring and brings about such positive changes in our life. You know even I lost some weight which is another plus of this course. Yes Goenka Ji’s discourses were very enlightening, simple, hard hitting and practical too. I liked his humor too. Hope you get to go together as a family, considering David is also inclined towards this spiritual path!

  9. Bravo Shilpa! not at all an easy task, i know many who quit in between unable to keep up with the rigours.. You are great.

    yes, i did two such courses, the first one some 7 years back. The course and the books relevant to such living has helped me live a meditative life…i guess except weaving negative emotions which i still do, ins me, although i still consider myself a work in progress. From being a multitasker, reacting to situations, pessimist, a late riser, a pite of reminding myself not to, there has been a great change inlate to bed, angry person, i am slowly morphing into mindful doing, react less, most often optimist, an early riser even on sundays, an early to bed person , a minimalist( hoard less) and enjoy this art of living. I am typing this comment 3rd time 🙁 ..hope this is through this time.

    • Wow! I am impressed by the changes that you have brought in your life, Asha! Simply awe-inspiring! I am so keen to meet you and learn more from you!
      Got 2 of your comments on the blog!

  10. Bravo Shilpa! not at all an easy task, i know many who quit in between unable to keep up with the rigours.. You are great.

    yes, i did two such courses, the first one some 7 years back. The course and the books relevant to such living has helped me live a meditative life…i guess except weaving negative emotions which i still do, (inspite of reminding myself not to), i follow most of your post although i still consider myself a work in progress.

    From being a multitasker, reacting to situations, pessimist, a late riser, late to bed, angry person etc, i am slowly morphing into doing mindful acts , react less, most often optimist, an early riser even on sundays, an early to bed person , a minimalist( hoard less) and enjoy this art of living.

  11. It is commendable that you have completed this successfully.. seems tough but as you said it is a matter of getting used to.. if given a chance I would also love to go for this.. thank you for summarising the Vipassana learnings.

    • Thanks Rekha, yes, I am glad that did this course successfully too. Hope you get to experience this sometimes soon too. Thank you for stopping by and reading 🙂

  12. This is great, Shilpa. Quite a transformative and liberating experience this must have been! And as you say there must have been some deep self-learning moments during this experience. So much depends on one’s inner receptivity, isn’t it? I have done other kinds of retreats, study camps, solitude type practices etc but maybe someday will get a chance to experience something for 10-days like Vipassana.

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