That time I sat in silence for 10 days

I knew nothing about Vipassana meditation. So glad I didn’t know what it was, if I had known what it was, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for it so lightheartedly.

On day 11, I walked out of the centre feeling lighter and brighter. Day 1, the first full day of the course was long, hot, and painful. Slept like a baby after 10 hours of meditation (sitting down cross legged with my eyes closed, trying to concentrate on my breath and nothing else).

I was told not to visualise. Just try to feel the sensation of air coming in through my nostrils, then the air goes out through my nostrils. It’s hard, I kept thinking air particles coming in like a wave and going out like a wave. It took me two full days of meditation to start being able to feel the sensation of the air touching my nostrils. Also, when I tried to concentrate on my breathing, my mind was doing some crazy daydreaming. Thought I was going nuts inside.

Every single day was difficult, I was thinking about walking out of it every single day. But the first two days were especially painful.

For 10 days, we are not allowed to talk to anyone, or look at each other, touch each other, no gesturing, not even bumping into each other. We are given designated seats in the meditation hall and and the dining room, and that was our spot for 10 days. It was the most bizarre scene. In a tight inclosed space, everyone walking around, trying not to bump into each other. In their own little bubble. It was like an insane asylum.

After the second day, few people dropped out. Couldn’t even say bye, they just disappeared.

On day 5, we were shown how to do Vipassana meditation. Until this point was just a prep for the real deal. I still remember the sitting where I could start to move my attention throughout my body and feel different sensations. From the top of my head, then to my left cheek, then to my right cheek, all the way down to the tips of my toes. Didn’t even know I could do that with my mind! Insane. I could feel little tingles in most parts of my body, some stronger than others. At the end of the day, it felt like the vibrations were lifting my face and making me smile. Like after a good hot yoga class.

Coming out of the meditation hall, I was grinning from happiness, still not allowed to share it with anyone.

The main idea of Vipassana meditation is to experience and understand that all sensation in one’s body is impermanent. It’s constantly arising and passing away. After sitting down for few hours, I could feel intense pain in my knees arising, and then few minutes later, it won’t be there anymore. Then later on it comes back, but with different intensity. If I can understand this with my body, then when I feel bigger pain (like loss of someone in my life or having a stressful day), my body will know that that sensation will also go away. It goes much deeper than this, but that’s the main idea of it.

On day 6, I started realising the things I crave (things that give me pleasant sensation), and the things I try to avoid (things that give me unpleasant sensation). Understanding this was mind-blowing. I could see all my past mistakes, same mistake time after time, just with slightly different circumstances. All from me chasing that craving, or me running away from the aversion. I felt so silly for all the mistakes I’ve made.

On day 8 or 9, I started thinking about how amazing it’ll be to have my phone back and connect with the outside world again. Then I started thinking about how great it will be to see all the messages people would’ve sent me. Then I realised how silly I was to expect things from people. And it’s not even the actual people, it’s the image of people that I created in my mind, based on the good memories I have of them and none of the bad ones. Mind does weird things. This is why I was feeling disappointed if I didn’t get the things I wanted from people, because I’ve created this perfect image of someone I know, based on only the good memories I have of them. No one is that perfect.

Even as I’m writing this almost two weeks after the course, I can only remember the pleasant sensations I had during the course and none of the bad ones. I’m writing this off the journal entry I wrote right after I got out.

Day 10 finally came around, and we were allowed to talk to people. It was such a nice shock! Being able to smile was the best thing of all. After going through such intense experience, I felt like I had such strong connection with these people I’ve only met 10 days ago. Friendship without any physical communication, so refreshing.

For the first time since I started travelling, I think I’m actually content travelling alone. Appreciating every moment as it comes, even the shitty low days. I know it’s all going to pass away. Such a light and happy feeling. I sound like a real hippy now ha!

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