Last August, I attended a 10 days Vipassana Meditation course that totally changed me, my perception of life and of reality. I consider this experience my second birth.
Vipassana means seeing things as they are (not as we want them to be). This meditation technique is not based on visualization nor imagination, but pure awareness of reality and the present moment. We observe our breath, our body, and its sensations. Then, we develop equanimity towards them. This means no reaction to pleasant sensations, as it will generate more craving, and no reaction to unpleasant ones, as it will generate aversion. Craving and aversion are the source and the root of our misery. We crave things we don’t have, and we are averse to things we don’t like yet exist in our lives.
During this 10 days course, we respected couple of rules that were in favor of our meditation and helped us concentrate and have a clear mind. The best rule for me was the Noble Silence ! SO yeah I didn’t speak for 10 days ! We only could talk to the teacher or the managers if we needed anything, in a very low voice and we keep it concise. This is something I wish I can do from time to time ! It’s super restful for the mind ! I had no access to my phone, so no connection with the external world; this gave me space and time to concentrate on myself.
I didn’t want to write about this experience right after it ended; I wanted to give it couple of days and see how it really affected me.. almost one week now after it ended, and the impact is incredible. This is a list of things that changed about me (I mean seriously changed!)
1- Mind control: My mind shifted from focusing on useless, unnecessary, and unreal thoughts to real ones ! I feel that I don’t give any attention to things that don’t matter, effortlessly. Hallelujah !! I really used to spend much time and energy on worrying and being angry on futility.
2- Anicca (Law of Change, Impermanence): Nothing lasts. Whatever we are going through at this present moment won’t last. Happy/sad feelings, good/ bad situations, all sensations in the world have the same characteristics, arise and passe away !
3- Acceptance: Anicca makes me accept unpleasant sensations and feelings by keeping a balanced mind and not reacting; because I simply say to myself, “this will also change.”
4- Self-Awareness: Before this course, I was very aware of the external world; however, I never paid attention to my body and the sensations happening constantly. These sensations are nothing but an expression of the constantly changing body… our body was the little laboratory we worked in/on during this meditation technique to understand the real meaning of Anicca. Our body is in a continuous change, just like the whole world outside, our conditions and our life …
5- Clear mind: The mind is always either thinking about the past- regretting or missing things/people; or thinking about the future – imagining stuff, worrying or getting too excited about what’s coming; but never/rarely in the present moment or at least blank mind ! The Noble Silence helped me clear my mind; I didn’t “feed” the mind with any conversations or socializing. In addition to that, the 10 hours per day of meditation and concentration on breath and body truly redressed my mind. Even after the course, I often find myself thinking about nothing ! Nada ! Clear blank mind or I would be thinking about the present moment and whatever I am doing; which means better concentration. I am really glad the monkey mind of mine is finally shut !
All theses 5 areas of change have impact on many other sides of one’s life. Keeping the awareness and equanimity of the mind are key to a happy life. This is easy for everyone to understand on the intellectual level, however; the experiential level remains the reality of it. One needs to experience and live the equanimity to actually take benefit from this technique.
The whole experience, from waking up everyday at 4 AM, only eating vegetarian food, having lunch as the last meal of the day (new students had some fruits and infusions at 5 PM), staying in total silence, doing our dishes, cleaning our own rooms, 10 hours of sitting and meditating everyday, no phones, no reading, no music, was an exquisite journey of learning, self-development, complete focus on oneself, mind purification and raising self-awareness. (and losing weight :D)
The final goal of Vipassana is to be happy, a happy being enjoying its life; eliminating misery by accepting our reality. Either we don’t have what we want, or we have things we don’t like; equanimity is a beautiful tool to remain balanced, in peace and happy with our lives.
May All Beings be Happy.
For more information about Vipassana history, the courses, and the locations around the world: https://www.dhamma.org/en/index