My Vipassana Experience
First of all, I want to inform you about the Vipassana and what it is like.
Vipassana is a sort of “insight meditation”, the methodical practice of “seeing things as they really are” by contemplating the four foundations of mindfulness:
- body (physical sensations)
- feelings (pleasant or unpleasant)
- mind states (emotions)
- mind objects (thoughts)
The program duration is about 10 Days. The day before - the 7 Silent Days – the 2 days after.The hardest part for sure are the 7 silent days.
During these 7 days, you’re not allowed to talk to anybody or have any eye contact, you can’t use your phone or write a diary – that you just focus on your thoughts and nothing else.
But that wasn’t the only hard part. The days started at 4 o’clock in the morning (night) until 9 o’clock in the evening. Breakfast is at 7, Lunch at 11 and then you’re not allowed to eat for the next 20 hours until the next day.
So, 11 hours a day you’re meditating.
You’ll get toughed by monks and teachers how to practice meditations.
In this kind of meditations, the main part of the sitting meditation was to focus on following your breath. You had to imagine how your inhale starts from the tip of your nose down to your navel, and your exhale from the navel back to the nose tip. That’s what I practiced the whole week. In contrast to the walking meditation, you had to focus on your walk. You followed every single step, from lifting to moving and placing your feet.
That sounds easy. But believe me it’s not! While you’re breathing or walking, you must control your mind. That you didn’t get deflect by your thoughts. And at the same time you had to sit in the same position for a long time. The first days were painful… but at the end you got used to it.
So, I now try to share my experience during this retreat with you:
I never meditated before. So I was a beginner who directly started with a “hardcore” meditation experience as many other applicants too.
I was motivated to face this challenge UNTIL I arrived. Then my Motivation disappeared immediately…
They first showed us our room, which already looked like a prison. A small room with 2 simple beds who felt as lying on the floor. The room had holes in the wall, so all the insects were welcomed. We didn’t had an AC and it was pretty hot. So, that was already the first shock. Then my roommate went to the restroom and informed me that the toilet is like a simple whole in the floor and the shower, a big container with cups to pull the water over your body. Not to forget that we had to organize our toilet paper by ourselves.
So we weren’t sure anymore, if we really want to do this. So, we waited until Lunch. Were we got some more Information and the “bad news” went on.. All the animals in the forest and how to react to them was explained. There were monkeys, dogs, frogs, snakes, scorpions and a lot of spiders, mosquitos and other insects. My motivation felled more and more..
When it got darker and I went to the restroom, I stepped into- screamed and ran out again. Next to the toilet when I closed the door behind me were to big Lizards on the wall. I know they aren’t dangerous, but if you don’t expect it, it’s surprising. Well ok, I calmed down, went to the toilet, (did squats) and washed my hands after, where the next nice message waited: Please always close the door, that no snakes can come in. Alright & that was the point I saw: GAME OVER. I can’t do this!
About one hour I asked myself: why should I do that? Living in a “prison” instead of lying on the beach.. but then finally I realized that that is already the first part of the challenge. We had to practice: finding happiness without any luxury and just with mindfulness.
So, I accepted the challenge and stayed. The silent days started and all we did every day was following our breath and steps. Unfortunately, It didn’t get easier with the time. The opposite: Day by day I wasn’t able to focus on my breath. Even after 2 breaths I got lost in my thoughts again.. So we had the possibility to got interviews with the monks or teacher. At the 4th day, I asked a monk: If it’s normal that I’m not able for it after 3 whole days practicing & he answered with yes. He practices it for years so It takes time and we have to be patient. They always remind us to not expect anything, then if we expect something, nothing will happen. We just have to trust ourself. On day 5 I finally had some results. The whole day I cried about 5 times and that without any reason and just for maybe a second. So when it happened the first time I asked myself: what the hell is going on? – I’m not even sad.. the opposite I felt pretty good and happy. So, it happened a few more times this day. And also at this day during a sitting meditation I finally got a current concentration in following my breath and came down. Time by time I can’t feel my body anymore. It felt like I’m not in my physical body anymore.. after that My nose started to move. I know that sounds strange. But with every exhale it felt as my nose would shortly lift… and then finally the first time some images appear I’m not gone tell you the details, it wasn’t anything personally. I never is. But just some strange pictures appeared and disappeared again..
So, by the next Interview I informed my teacher about the experience. So she first said that the I reached a point of calmness and happiness in my mind witch made me cry. But about the images I saw, she explained me, that that wasn’t the “real” image from my mind, because those never change.. so it’s only possible to see one. So I was kind of disappointed until my room maid motivated me with the comment: “girl, be grateful for that, other people have to take drugs to see those things”
That was the only point I reached DURRING the meditation. And I had a lot of ups and downs during those days. A lot of times a thought about breaking up, because I just waited for the moment, (kind of enlightenment) witch made me sure about : that’s the changinglife affect & that’s worth it. But for sure we learned a lot more from the monks than just following our breath.
They shared their knowledge with us, what it needs to be happy and how to solve all our sufferings and problems.
The most important two things I kept are:
- Everything is impermanent. (everything comes and goes) If breaths, good food, moments, movements, life’s and everything else. Nothing happens 2 times. Not in the same way. Never. If you can accept that nothing is permanent, you will never have problems to leave or lose anything and you’ll never suffer. For example: You enjoy a good food and if you don’t accept that the food is impermanent (Is finished once), you will be sad when you can’t get it again/anymore.
- And the other, for me most important, point is to live in the present. You can’t change your past or plane the future. The only thing you have to do, for happiness is to live in the present moment. à If you’re thinking about your future or your past, you’re automatically not living in the present = you’re not happy enough in the moment self.
And that’s also the point I learned the most. To be mindfully in every action. Mindfully eating, mindfully moving, mindfully do everything and enjoy what you have rightnow.
The monk toughed me: always remember: You’re at the most beautiful place where you are. No place is better or makes you happier then the present place and moment. And if you can accept that – you can be happy everywhere.
For sure it’s not easy, negative thoughts are totally normal but I’ll keep practicing this and be grateful for everything I learned.
So all in all I learned a lot and it was a good but also hard and challenging experience. About 20% left during the retreat. Then beside the primitive lifestyle “thousands of mosquito bites, 4 days without water (shower), less sleep and food, sleeping surrounded by spiders and Lizards next to your bed, surprising moments with snakes and a lot more. But the for me hardest challenge was to keep focusing on motivating myself, why I’m doing this. I had to deal with all this, without getting help or advises from others. We couldn’t exchange our experience and talk to each other. The only one we could communicate with was ourselves. So, it was an intensive physically and mentally challenging.
But I can recommend it to everyone.
I didn’t have any exportations left and at the day after I had to go back to Bangkok for my next flight. And when I was sitting on the ferry. Watching the surface of the ocean, and the horizon from the island, while the sunshine was dazzle me I replayed all I learned again. I just enjoyed the moment and was sure about being on the perfect place at the perfect time. Suddenly, a feeling of freedom and happiness overwhelmed me, I couldn’t stop laughing- smiling and tears rolled down my face and my happiness raised more and more à The moment I waited for finally appears, without an exportation for it. I felt happier than ever before without a clear reason – just because of living the moment. & after that I exactly realized: It is a changing Life experience and the hard time has worth it!
Even when I had something different to eat than rice after 10 days, or finally had a fresh shower with warm water I appreciated it more than ever before!
Sometimes you have to go through the hell, too see the heaven again.. even in small things.
I will definitely see the world with different eyes after this vipassana experience and be glad I did it on the beginning of my adventure.
Hope I could inspire you a little bit.