Gap Year Travel Stories: Ten Days of Silence
Experiencing 10 Days of Vipassana Meditation in India
Whilst travelling, I chose to take part in Vipassana Meditation in Gujarat, India. For those that aren't aware, Vipassana Meditation involves entering a Vipassana retreat for 10 days, and not saying a single word, whilst meditating throughout the day.
Vipassana, which means "to see things as they really are" is something I'd heard about from friends who had attempted to complete the activity with varying levels of success. To be honest, I chose to do it as a challenge. To see if this was something I could do.
The day's follow a fairly simple and repeated formula, as I'm sure you can imagine. They consist of a 4am wake up where you meditate until breakfast at 6.30am. From there, you meditate until an 11am lunch, then meditate again until dinner at 6pm before you see a short video talk and head to sleep for approximately 9.30pm.
However, I was prepared for this and fully expected to go through stages of not enjoying the experience. Worse though than the constant silence was the sitting on a floor for over 9 hours a day with nothing but some small cushions for comfort.
As the days moved forward, I began to relax into the Vipassana and began to enjoy the experience. I could feel myself beginning to leave my stresses and troubles behind and just focusing on the moment. Then day 6 came.
It was widely stated that day 6/7 is the hardest part of any Vipassana meditation as you've essentially exhausted all internal narratives in your mind and nothing new has happened to you in days. And boy, did I know it. It was a huge struggle not to get up off my sore backside and walk out of that retreat. But I stuck it out on the promise that things would turn around.
And they did. During day 9 I truly began to understand what the benefit of Vipassana was. I find it difficult to put into words, but I felt so untroubled and untouched by the outside world. The only thing that mattered was what was taking place in that room, and yet that didn't matter to me either. I was blissful.
On the afternoon of the 10th day you're allowed to speak again. I began to speak to my fellow "survivors" about their experience, and heard staggering stories of individuals' different experiences.
Vipassana meditation is like nothing I've never experienced before, and I'd hasten anyone who even thinks they might want to try it, to go ahead and do it. I think back now to that time so fondly and recall that total calm. It was a once in a lifetime experience.