During my 10-day Vipassana silent meditation experience, we were provided with an environment and structure that forced our focus into the present moment, more specifically into each of our own inner present moments. We were placed into silence for 10 days; no talking, no writing, no phones, no computers, no reading and no eye contact. Clothes were to be loose fitting and comfortable. Men and women were provided separate housing and only came together in the dharma hall for meditation. Vegetarian meals were provided in the morning and at midday at their specified time. Dinner consisted of fruit and tea only.
Seated silent meditations were held throughout each of the 10 days, often sitting for an hour or more each time, adding up to about 8 hours or so of meditation each day. Dharma talk was held at night and opportunities to speak with the spiritual teachers were by appointment only.
I learned so much from that experience, so much so that I go for a little “tune up” and maintenance each year. However these “tune ups” consist of their shortened 3-day vipassana session (if you want to attend, it is a requirement that you first attend the 10-day session before being invited to attend a shortened 3-day session).
This type of extreme silent submersion provided a plethora of leaning experiences. I got to observe the many inner workings of my mind. The constant stream of thought ranging from neurotic moments turning into boredom turning into “aha” moments melting into tears turning into fear moving into pain with a constant return to breath and energetic observations. And I sure got to notice all of my judgments and assessments all abound! The thought train chugged along without much of a stop but I agreed to hang on for the ride and it was more than worth it.
The technique of vipassana meditation can only truly be taught and experienced through the 10 days of participation in the program. However, what I can share about is the keys that were unlocked for me about this thing we call a “human experience.” The more I sat and came back to the silent space of simply observing the breath, body and my energetic being, one constant became extremely clear. The mind likes to solve problems, imaginary ones, real ones and everything in between. It will sit inside a problem and navigate through true and unreal obstacles over and over until it seems to rest upon the solution or it gets bored of the topic. The mind likes to be active even when the present moment is offering a simple opportunity to sit still and observe the breath. I found myself wondering, “why is it so hard just to accept the gift of stillness and breath?! “
As human beings, there seems to be this struggle to deepen into the gratitude of all the miracles the present moment offers to us. We often find ourselves slightly discontent or maybe even grossly discontent with the happenings of the moment just as they are. We want more or we want less, while we rarely seem to want what is. Thus we are catapulted into a state of oscillation: bouncing between craving states and aversion states of being. Some Thoughts that may represent this for you: “I wish”, “I want”, “make this go away”, “if this could just be like this, then…”
If you find yourself living in the United States at this time, you may notice an increased challenge with truth and pain arising in your life. It's important to remember the energy of the world is at a pressure point. People are being pushed to seek the truth, to discern where they stand, to rise up into an authentic way of being. The energy around us is infused with this extra layer of judgment and discernment. There are a lot of things happening outside of us that we are truly upset, hurt and appalled by. Be aware that this will ignite the cravings and aversions flame in the mind and in your being. It will naturally increase these aspects of being as we are collectively experiencing a need to resist and change that which is outside of ourselves. When this extreme need to change that which surrounds us, it naturally ignites the judgments and changes we have inside of ourselves.
If you find yourself in this space, Questions to Ask: What are you yearning for in this moment? What are you trying to avoid in this moment? What can you appreciate in this moment? Where do you need to take action? Where do you need to let go and simply breathe?
Answering these questions and accepting what arises for you will support your process to move through with your "higher self" on your side. Accepting does not mean you agree with what is occurring, it means you are willing to be with what arises instead of trying to push it down or ignore the truth of what the moment has brought forth. It’s being willing to be sober for all that arises and allowing it to move through and pass on it’s own time. This may make for some discomfort at first, however the more you can be present for what is and honor the truth, the more you will be able to tap back into the gratitude that each moment provides. Sometimes the moment provides us with joy, sometimes sadness, anger, or anxiety. Each of these will arise and pass. It is certain. The only constant is change and being willing to be with what is, allows for truth to become more important than getting caught in the constant cycle of avoiding or craving for something different.
Accepting what arises can invite in a sensation of true thankfulness for each emotion, whether it’s a positive or negative one, for each truthful moment invites in an opportunity to be present to all that life has to offer.
Let’s break this down a bit further. Simply consider how gratitude can change how we may experience the not so pleasant moments that arise. Looking at sadness, we can turn to gratitude and say thank you sadness for reminding me of my beautiful heart and how it naturally connects with others and for it’s ability to love. For without love and connection, I would feel no sadness.
In looking at anger, we can bring in gratitude to remind us of the passion that resides in our heart. We can say thank you for the reminder that “I care a lot” about what happens to me, the world and others around me”. Without passion, I would feel no anger.
Take a moment and ask gratitude to show you the other side of the struggle you are facing in this moment. Ask how it can illuminate the positivity in your beautiful heart and soul.
That’s all for today folks! Thanks for taking the time to read and I look forward to writing for you again soon.
If you are interested in Vipassana meditation, here is a lovely resource to get you there: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index
It’s donation based so you pay what you can. You do need to sign up early so check it out now even if you are just considering it J.
If you are interested in meditation and mindfulness but you are not ready for such a big commitment, please attend one of my monthly events or work with me 1:1.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Myers, MA, RYT200
Spiritual Life Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher.
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