Most of us are accustomed to practicing meditation in the comfort of our own homes. We grab that meditation pillow, maybe light a candle, and find a quiet place in which to practice 20 to 30 minutes of silent inward reflection. Afterwards, we go about our day. Now, consider doing that same silent practice for 10 hours straight. Add to that no talking, no reading, no eye contact with anyone, and no writing. Think you’re up for it? Well then maybe you’re ready to go on your first Vipassana meditation retreat.
Taylor Jacobson, in this latest CNN post, discusses both his experience with his first Vipassana meditation retreat and how he survived it. According to Jacobson, after the first three days where participants were taught the Anapana breathing technique as a way to practice subtle awareness, on day 4 of 10, they finally got down to Vipassana.
On day four, I am taught the Vipassana technique.
Here, one applies the subtle focus learned through Anapana to scan the body for sensations such as pain, stinging, heat, moisture. The goal is to maintain perfect calm and objectivity.
In theory, a meditator would learn over time to respond with equanimity to every sensation, no matter how strong one’s cravings or aversions might be towards certain people, experiences, sensations.
This ability to respond with mental calmness and an even temper, can be equated to a happier and more contented life.
All the same, day four seems destined to be a day of disillusionment, close to my breaking point. Most unexpectedly, that day also proves to be the turning point.
Read more from Jacobson on his 10 day meditation experience here.