10 Days of Silence: Vipassana Meditation Revisited
This isn’t like my other posts.
Trying to explain terms that are in nature pre-symbolic is tough. A lot of what I experienced at my meditation retreat is not yet easily put into words, for words do not do justice to the sweeping stress that was put on my body and psyche during yet another 10 days in silence.
If you don’t know what a 10-day meditation retreat consists of, I recommend you go read my pieces on Vipassana before venturing any further as I am sure this will deepen the practical nature of my notes.
Here are some notes I scrambled to write and annotate. I built upon a few of the takeaways and hope that writing this helps both you and me better understand what intellectual games I seem to be playing while I was strengthening my abilities to practice Vipassana meditation.
This is a fairly raw post that I attempted to edit minimally as to preserve the message.
Directly experiencing The Law of Nature
Things are as such that everything that arises is bound to pass.
Sure I can read that statement above and think that it makes sense, but that does not help me see the deep truth behind what it is saying.
Does a child that is told not to touch the hot stove just stop reaching out? No! He reaches out and finds out through his experience the meaning of the statement.
Over the last two weeks in silence, I touched the flame.
I sat in silence in a pitch black meditation cell saw viscerally the changing of each sensation as it arises. Sensations can be appraised along a great spectrum—from pain to pleasure—yet what we make of a sensation is disillusion.
Out of habit, we assume that this always means that, X means Y, and cause yields effect; this assessment is dangerous. Pain in my legs is only accentuated from the mental categorization that this sensation is something that is harmful.
But if we are patient and are diligent about not playing a game of categorizing reactively to our senses, we free ourselves from the additional misery.
Easier said than done of course. Or perhaps that is just the opposite.
Well if the validity of any statements can only ever be stress tested through each of our subjective experiences. Then I need to experience a sensation, not I.D. it and notice how the law of nature runs its course—the sensation arises and passes away.
The extension of the law of nature in my subjective experience
After a few days of experiencing the arising and passing of all the habits I created to pleasure or harm myself—all of which just being reactions of one or another to a pattern. I began to see the impermanence of even the most mundane things all around the center.
Though one case resonated with me more than any other; the flower.
During my first few days at the compound, I would walk past the same flower on my way to breakfast. I would watch as the simple bud each day grew and grew, moving with its environment, becoming what it was exposed to—in a lot of ways this flower following the same rules as me. But just as the flower bloomed, I saw the petals began to fall, and day by day the flower became ill–ultimately dying toward the end of my retreat.
Like this flower, I have bloomed, and as this flower, I will die.
The cycle of birth and decay could not be any clearer. Coupled with my training, watching this flowers whole life cycle was a moving experience. Life like the flower is so beautiful, so fascinating, but the decay, rotting, and dying is no less beautiful.
It’s the entirety of a living creatures experience that draws us to weigh one portion over another as though the reality is more somehow more pivotal in some cases over others. Yet, without the other side, we would never be able to make such an assessment; it’s all important. So sure categorize, but during my retreat, I learned to respect each part of the experience.
The community of people curious as to what is going on inside their skulls is by far the most powerful resource that you can get from the retreat–barring the actual technique of course (Though I dare to even say that it matches the meditation itself). The meditation is fueled by the power of the collective influence.
We are social beings, and habit formation only ever prospers in environments where the foundation is grounded in things that align with the habit. The collective at these retreats are just that. From the moment we arrive at the compound its talk of this life journey or that life journey, and after the ten-day silence breaks, the talks are full of trust, love and, compassion.
Everyone Trusts. We trust that we all just underwent something that was special in its own way to all of us, yet its broader meaning, it made us strive to see what we can give, and how can we give more. When we are filled with what we need—the lesson we gain from finding meaning within ourselves—then we only want to give because everything left is just a gift.
If we can find internal peace, then what really else do you need? It’s all extra! Free prizes of life to be appreciated and shared.
So to touch back on how it relates to people, with everyone coming to the realization that all is found within, it becomes a giving fest that some have never thought was ever feasible. People start sharing their deepest desires, cravings, aversions, and hopes, out of compassion that what they have experienced that be of some value to another—and all this before we even knew each other’s names!!
This is the start.
I have only just started really diving into the lessons from my time in the Dharma hall. Gradually I will continue to deconstruct what introspective work coupled with my meditation has done to create an intentional life for me. Feel free to send me your meditative experiences as I would love to challenge you to dive deeper into explaining to yourself how a practice has made you more susceptive to a life with purpose.
My Motto: Today is the best day of my life
I treat every day as the best day of my life because no matter the praise, disappointment, obstacles, or success I know that I am doing everything that is in my control to live to the standards of my greatest self.
How? It all starts with my 5 habits. Find out more here.