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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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