This is a reflection on my second 10-day silent meditation, a Vipassana Meditation of S.N. Goenka. It was held on March 20-30, 2016, in Elbert, Colorado.
Perhaps I was reluctant the first time, but to quench my thirst, I had to return to the quiet.
Once again, I am moved to share my experience with others; to offer up the idea that we don’t have to go through life letting media and distractions take away creativity. This Vipassana Meditation is powerful and meant for those who really, really want to dive in deeply—those who are looking for more than to skim across the surface level of the mind.
For any who are unfamiliar with the Vipassana Meditation, I’ll fill you in: it’s 10 days of silence and meditation. No eye contact or talking, no cell phone and no TV.
How it Works
The day starts at 4 a.m., with early meditation from 4:30-6:30, and with no coffee or media—only silence. The sessions go on this way for the day. It’s only you. It’s time to stare yourself down and focus on what’s there. My favorite tool was thinking about the end of my nose; it worked for me. Body scans and breathing awareness were also effective.
During my first 10-day meditation, I snuck a peek at my watch every 15 minutes or so—but a watched pot never boils.
During this 10-day meditation, called my second sitting, the instructor noticed I didn’t always keep my eyes shut, and asked to see me at the end of the meditation period. He said he’d noticed a beeping near my general area. I told him my watch doesn’t beep, but removed it anyway.
He didn’t tell me to keep my eyes closed—he just mentioned it. Needless to say, I kept my eyes closed the remainder of the course, and didn’t have a watch to check. All this created a more relaxed and more beneficial meditation. Time was no longer an issue, just peace and quiet, and being in the moment.
Weather the Storm
About nine out of 80 people dropped out after the first day. It reminded me of the Navy teams, ringing the bell to quit during Hell Week.
The reason to stay and not drop out was simple: it’s a self-improvement experience.
A few days in, a heavy snowstorm hit, with 60-plus M.P.H. winds and driving snow—a true mountain blizzard. The storm was there for everyone to observe, but no one could mention their thoughts. No comments on weather, no small talk about the storm, just a collective, silent experience.
Observing is an interesting practice; it’s about staying in the present with no distractions from humans, animals, media or anything. It’s a different, yet beautiful, experience.
It’s distractions like weather and small talk that keep us from focusing on ourselves. Sometimes, talking seems more simple than being silent, like running may seem easier than staying. Easy, though, isn’t always the way out.
Upon completing the entire session, I spoke with a fellow meditator who had flown in from Philadelphia to Denver. Instead of renting a car, he had taken Uber to get to the site. A good plan, but he soon found he had no way to escape. He told me he would have left the course after the third day, but couldn’t due to lack of transportation. He did finish the 10 days, and got a ride to the airport. The only way out, he discovered, was through.
See what you Find
I found the second trip to the “well” a good thing—it was very enlightening, often beyond words.
I found peace beyond what I can understand; a calmness I’d rarely experienced before.
I soon found longing for the quiet again and a need to find it, within myself. I have a desire to become a better person to those around me, with more patience and caring.
An experience like a 10-day Vipassana Meditation helps to reset the mind and rid ourselves of cravings.
The sessions bring in an intention that consistently focuses on creating an equanimous mind—a state of psychological stability and composure that remains undisturbed by experience of, or exposure to, emotions, pain or other phenomena that may cause a loss of balance in the mind. This work is meant to be continued after the 10 days is complete.
The path of meditation is a marvelous experience; embrace it and start to really live. Like a yoga practice, it takes real work and commitment to receive full benefit. Don’t go through life and die without experiencing the joy of a full-life realized. Distractions are a minefield, and it takes focus and inner strength to stay on a clear course.
The work must be practiced on a daily basis. Two hours a day is recommended, but I find 10 minutes here and there is very useful, as well. Meditation creates contentment, more awareness and sensitivity to everything around you.
The Reluctant Meditator has quenched his thirst, but only for the present. The work has only just begun, and it will begin again and again.
Find your own quiet when you can, and soar to new heights.
May all beings be happy!
Author: Alan Fuller
Image: Bengin Ahmad/Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Natalia Lusinski; Editor: Nicole Cameron