As a controller I like the predictable, as an adventurer I love the unknown. So there’s always a new adventure waiting for me around the corner. This Vipassana Meditation retreat was an unforgettable life-event for sure. It was an experience I will share with my grandchildren one day.
Walk the line (and those rules are not meant to be broken!)
There is nothing to sugar-coat: It’s tough. You are not allowed to talk, not allowed to touch anyone and even eye contact is not recommended. Don’t even think about bringing your phone or anything you can write on. You are not supposed to do anything –no sports, not even yoga! You do have to get up at 4 AM every day and only get to eat breakfast and lunch. For new students they serve an afternoon fruit salad. You basically sit cross-legged on your cushion all day long. For 10 days straight! You cannot ‘just leave’ (The gates are not locked though.) Doesn’t sound like a vacation, hm? But it is – it is a vacation for your mind!
We are all full of shit: An intro into Vipassana Meditation
What does meditation mean? Something like ‘being balanced’ or ‘growing self-awareness’ or ‘relieving stress’. People, mostly ‘hippies’, sitting cross-legged on the ground thinking about their breathing and being happy until their dying day? Sometimes it seems to be the new detox, it’s a new buzzword! Overly used, I would say. No matter what skin colour, cultural background or bank account. 99% of the world’s population have one thing in common: We are all ignorant. We see things how we want to see them, we don’t control our thoughts and become very emotionally driven.
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet?
Couple weeks ago, a month, maybe last year? Having everything in order gives a feeling of relief, doesn’t it! But when did you clean out your mind the last time? The answer is getting a little harder I assume.
’Imagine you are born blind. An elephant could be anything else than an actual elephant depending on which part you touch. It’s about the perspective you see. This is where Vipassana starts.’
We go to the gym to shape our bodies, we go to university to expand our knowledge, but what actually do we do for our mind? Generally speaking meditation is a school for your mind. Vipassana Meditation is a step above most other meditation techniques.
How often do you erupt?
Everyone has a sleeping (unconscious) volcano inside – Those are our roots of our misery. The deeper level of your mind is constantly in contact with your bodies sensations. And we react to it: We get excited, we get sad, and we create all sorts of emotions. It’s the trigger! A catalyst if you will. During the course you train the deeper levels of your mind not to react to those sensations. Your sleeping volcano has nothing to do with the outside world, the world you perceive through your senses!
Addicts of craving
Craving means that you want something which is not there at the moment. But it’s important to understand it’s not about the object you want, it’s about a sensation you want! The existence of craving is not a problem, but your reaction to it! What comes after the designer clothes, the villa, the Porsche, the yacht? Maybe a trip to the moon? (Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful things too, especially a trip to the moon!) Craving is the reason why money doesn’t buy happiness. Satisfying a craving is not the solution – neither than craving for satisfaction is!
The tiny little in-between
You learn how to observe things objectively and stop reacting to it. Why would you need to do that? Take a minute and think about ’what you have thought about today’. We are always thinking about the past, which makes, sense since we are made from experiences. And on the other side we are thinking about the future – striving in life keeps us alive and gives us vitality. Makes total sense. Nothing wrong with that. However, what about the tiny little in-between? Those tiny little moments after those moments, what about the now?
It’s not a philosophy, neither it’s rocket science. You won’t see a pixie waving her magic wand giving you witcheries. It’s simply a technique. The bottom line of Vipassana Meditation teaches you how to change your behaviour pattern of the root level of your mind. Sometimes our eyes are useless because our mind is blind. (Or some of us even have buttonholes instead of eyes.) We have to touch and experience all parts of the elephant to see what an elephant looks like, we have to sharpen our minds!
It’s a distinct truth compared to the real life out there: We are more connected than ever before but never have we felt more alone. During those 10 days you disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself. You are not alone. Though you might wonder why you can’t at least talk with your fellows. It’s a simple reason. Once you understood that this trip is a vacation for your mind you don’t want any distraction. Chatting and meditation do not go along with each other. Comparison doesn’t allow you to stay with yourself. It’s the same if you go on your summer vacation, you wouldn’t want to take your office with you, or your mother in law!
’Am I part of something really weird?’
From a bird eyes view it must have looked like a sect. A bunch of weirdos running around in silence waiting for a ’Gong’ to either meditate or eat. You have to throw some of your luggage over board: Your stereotypes as well as your sense of time, otherwise you will freak out. (Being aware of 11 actual hours of meditation time doesn’t help!) You catch yourself observing time – striving for life is fed by limitations. (Otherwise what would be the sense of a never-ending life, right?) You learn how to be a little more pragmatic: Whatever is gone is gone.
Let’s do this: the first couple of days
In the beginning I felt a little silly, I felt like a prisoner holding my own chain. I didn’t come here to find myself, I actually don’t really know why I went there (I wanted to learn how to focus, I guess.) So I kept asking ’Why the hell am I here? Why am I doing this?’ I figured in the future I shouldn’t poke my nose into everything anymore! Since it’s always easier to blame it on others, I damned my Freediving Instructor (Sorry Emil!). He introduced me into Vipassana Meditation and told me it’s one of the hardest things I might ever do in my life – And he was right. But in the end we are all creatures of habit anyway. So what did I do all day long? I meditated. I ate. I took a shower. I took small naps. I’ve been daydreaming a lot or did I accidently fall asleep? ’That’s it? That meditation session went by fast.’ Those thoughts came up in my mind during some of the first sittings. The German in me worried a lot about ’doing the technique wrong’ when I realized I just slept the whole session.