10 Day Silent Retreat. The Worst But Best Thing I Have Ever Done!
The trip to the Vipassana center was full of excitement. I got a lift with a fellow course attendee. On the Vipassana website you can sign up and share rides.
They confiscated phone, keys, wallets, and any extra bits to keep safe for the duration of stay, so I quickly messaged mum to let her know that I'll be out of reach for the entire stay so she wouldn't call SOS International. This use to be a habit of hers in the past.
I got allocated a modest room and got to meet my roomie. Super sweet girl just coming out of a abusive relationship.
We spoke about why we are here, what we are nervous about and what we want to get out of the experience.
I was pretty blaze about it. I didn't think it was going to be hard to be honest. Neither did my roomie.
Oh how wrong I was..
I quickly learnt that we sit and meditate for 11 hours total a day. Yes you heard me... 11.
It eased me off when I learnt only 3 hours of them was compulsory. Although I had never meditated for 3 hours in one day either, I didn't even know what it was!? I mean, what the hell do you actually do!?
First 3 days. Quieting down the mind and fine tuning your focus.The only thing that exists is your breath and your body. Train your mind to pinpoint a body part and stay on the body part and not let yourself get carried away with your daydreams. It's harder than it seems.
I got frustrated real quick. I couldn't focus, I couldn't stay, I just couldn't do it!!! Anger took over and wanted to trow in the towel.
Everyone else at the center seemed so relaxed and in to it. Made it even more embarrassing. I got shirty with the volunteers, demanding I needed help and I should be first in line to ask questions to the meditation leader. (once a day you could do this)
I just wanted a easy answers, not something bullshit like just be still and focus. Just something I could work with, so I could get it. I just couldn't fail. I told myself before the course that I wasn't going to have a hard time here! But now its hard and I don't like it.
So naturally; I got frustrated.
She told me I needed to go in line but she so kindly said, I can see you are in need, I will do my best to squeeze you in quicker.
I whispered a "thanks..", with bright red cheeks and tears welling up. It was one of my most embarrassing moments. I totally demanded to get help first, step over everyone else and demand I get attention.
I realised I needed to end this behaviour and it starts with me.. so I walked of and had a complete meltdown.
I somehow got though 3 days of hell. It all bubbled to the surface.
battling though my Issues with food, fear of getting fat, anxiety, lack of anger control, self-pity, feeling lost and unsettled.
In the meditation classes there were more battles; drowsiness, pain from sitting, frowning, peeking and looking around at others.
On the 4th day we added another bow to the meditation belt we learnt in the course. We got to move the focus point around the body and we were in control of where it went. I understand this doesn't seem very exiting! 🧐 but after 3 days of the focus being still; this felt like a blowout at a Nightclub and tomorrow doesn't exist.
We now went though a full body scanning technique where nothing else matter than drawing attention away from your brain and down into your body.
It was a smoother ride and therefor more enjoyable. I now felt a purpose.
I dug deep from now on and went to every meditation sitting each day and practised in my room before bed.
Slowly. Carefully. Unintentionally.
Mood shifted. The world shifted. I shifted.
Get yourself ready
Treat this time as a pause. A pause from life. This isn't a place to plan other things just because you have time.
Share a ride with someone else to reduce admission.
Bring enough warm and comfy clothes.
A hot water bottle.
Be kind to the volunteers, they do not get paid and they deal with as much personal issues as you.
A water bottle to keep hot drinks in too.
Enjoy all the veggie and vegan food.
A sweet treat for when you get out. ex your favourite bar of chocolate to share in the car ride home.
Ignore everyone else's reasons for being there or how enlightened they might be after the course.