TweetAn intensive Vipassana meditation retreat promises to help you “see things as they really are.” But will it be worth ten days of torture?
But recently I discovered they run Vipassana courses all over the world, including right here in Victoria. We busy ourselves with unimportant topical issues, gobbling down content until we’re in a frenzied froth, then we blast our heated opinions at anyone who will listen. I’ve been wanting to do a 10-day meditation retreat for a while but have a huge amount of trepidation around whether my sanity is strong enough to withstand 10 days of abstaining from pretty much everything I love (reading, writing, exercising, connecting with others).
On another subject, I really enjoyed your book and several of my friends read it after I told them. I don’t think the quiet part would be as much of a challenge for me as the sitting in one place would be. The only thing is that I wouldn’t want to sit in meditation for hours, because I find it so unappealing, but I could handle all the other stuff.
I would have no trouble being silent for 10 days but who knows what would be happening inside my monkey mind…quite a scary thought!
I once had to sit in silence for two hours during a Buddhist meditation at 4am … and I thought that was near impossible to get through! I have thought about this experience a number of times and have read or spoken to a few people who have engaged in it.
BTW, LOVED your book, bought several more copies for friends, can’t wait to see the movie! I look forward to hearing about it I too have been wanting to do this but I am just about gathering the strength for a 4 day retreat .you are quite an inspiration Torre! A Retreat, literally or figuratively, seem to be what our spirit longs for when we come to a time of deep change in our life. I need a spiritual boot camp too – but one with more food and where reading and writing is allowed.
I am changing my life the slow way, by meditating in between loads of laundry, supermarket runs and fixing meals for my many hungry children. But I did just sneak off to Africa for 10 days with no family which was epic and gave me a big boost. I’ve always been interested in doing a meditation retreat, but my problem is that I really, really cannot sit cross-legged for hours on end (not an excuse, promise!). About fear, after enlightenment, a problem that is discovered in meditation is offered up to the Presence that is there while one is experiencing the enlightenment phenomenon. It’s kind of funny how so many people think of it as torture to simply sit and breathe.
Which means that for me, the most challenging day was day #2… at 4am in the morning when I realized I had 9 more days of that! However, sitting within yourself creates a much more intense feeling of vulnerability to all stimuli around you. I completed a 10 day retreat in Malaysia in January as part of my fresh start to the year and I was surprised how hard I found it. It wasn’t the not talking for 10 days that got me, in fact this part I actually enjoyed. Yet i would still recommend it to anyone to do one course at least one point in their lives. Not sure I could join you just yet on this, but I have heard wonderful things from other friends and writers who have participated in these kinds of silent retreats. Hello, I’m TorreHopelessly devoted to words, art, travel, and the search for meaning. My Journey: Self-Published To Big Publishing Deal I launched my self-published book in the first week of September.
Why You Should Never Trust a Gecko I used to think these lizards were cute, but that was before I got to know them. I recently completed a 10 day, silent mediation retreat through the local Vipassana Centre. Ten days without being able to read, write, talk, communicate, or do most normal things… but I was able to meditate for 12 hours a day, every day.
Traveling to the retreat, I focused on how to remain silent for 10 days without reading, writing, or communicating. Over the 10 days of silence, interacting with people as little as possible, but still observing the slightest details, I found myself developing an entire back story for the people around me. I realized that I had picked up on the slightest recognized quality of a person and, in the absence of any other form of communication and information, I labelled that person completely. Secondly, the conversations I had with people on day 10 were all very in depth and of great substance. Like many people in Western cultures, I find my diet is constantly creeping toward richer and heavier foods, with the more I eat of these, the more I want. It was fantastic for the few months afterward that every dinner party and water cooler conversation was somehow turned back around into a conversation about my meditation retreat. But in all seriousness, something like this has to be on everyone’s bucket list, doesn’t it? The greatest thing about 10 days of silent meditation, where the food, shelter, and time, are all taken care of by fellow meditators (who have returned to pay it forward) is that there is the chance to completely review and reset your life. The brain can be like a basket of apples, spread it out on the lawn in front of us, and we clearly see which part is rotten and which parts are not. The meditation does get quite religiously dogmatic at times, despite the claims of the teachers that it is universal truth (which religion doesn’t claim to be universally true?) One of the key points made in this quasi-religious setting is that it is by the observations of our ‘samskaras‘ (or bad mojo) that we are freed from it. I have always really adored the quote at the end of Grosse Point Blank: “Most people say forgive and forget. What is time, what is life if it cannot be organized so that 10 days out of the 70 or more years we have on this groovy little rock can’t be set aside to give this whole Vipassana thing a try?
This place looks amazing, well i know these kind of silent places are hard to find but I know 1 in Brazil i.e Spiritvine Ayahuasca Retreat.
Taylor Jacobson, in this latest CNN post, discusses both his experience with his first Vipassana meditation retreat and how he survived it.
Here, one applies the subtle focus learned through Anapana to scan the body for sensations such as pain, stinging, heat, moisture. 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. If you've been around meditation for a while you know that it's helpful with a lot of things. With Labor Day around the corner, school-aged children from all around the country are either back in school or quickly preparing for a return to the classroom.

I'm not sure why, but most people are reluctant to admit they would like to increase their overall happiness. If you pay attention to yourself and those around you, more often than not you will find that most of us suffer from a closed heart. The truth is that we live in a society that consciously or unconsciously promotes the belief that if people can change their outsides that their insides will follow suit.
For those parents of school-aged children, all you have to do is think back to when you were in school to appreciate how anxiety ridden the whole schooling process can be. If you're anything like me, on a daily basis you come into contact with people and situations that, well cause you to become frustrated.
Although the word charka is foreign to most people, put simply, it represents an energy vortex found in the body that helps to regulate mental, physical, and spiritual health. The reasons for meditation are as diverse as those who practice this ancient healing technique. Are you the type of person that stops to smell the roses, or are you a person that charges down life's path attempting to see as many of them as possible?
For those who don't know, one of the main purposes in getting a good night's sleep is to allow your brain the opportunity to go into an alpha wave state. When it comes to stress and anxiety, most know that unless addressed through practices like meditation, these two silent killers can ultimately lead to physical and emotional distress.
If you're like most people, your days are spent running around doing sometimes odd, sometimes purposeful things that hopefully amount to a life well-lived.
With regard to health and well being, truth be told, I haven't yet found anything closely resembling the magic pill. I don't know about you, but when I was a kid you could go out and play and no one could find you until you were good and ready to come home. Of all the meditation techniques practiced, one of the more challenging is Vipassana meditation. Out of curiosity and an apparent addiction to torturous experiences, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to attend this course in Asia for years. Given that I can’t read, write, socialise, or even exercise during the retreat to keep myself engaged, what will I find in the deepest recesses of my silent mind once everything stops?
Perplexed generations of the future will surely look back over our frantic Tweet streams about the twerking habits of Miley Cirus and facepalm in disgrace. I imagine it would be horrendously difficult and a strangely wonderful growth experience at the same time. I know that I couldn’t have done this 5 or 10 years ago, but I think where I am today in this moment, I could attempt it.
I thought about doing it for many years, most recently when I read Sex, Drugs and Meditation by Mary-Lou Stephens (which chronicles in detail her Vipassana experiences). Awhile ago, I looked into becoming a Buddhist nun for several months at a monastery in upstate NY, but one of the conditions was that you couldn’t have any debt.
I mean, I go days without talking to people and it wouldn’t be difficult to give up internet and the like.
My 10 days was probably one of the hardest experiences I’ve had, but then again, I was only 20 when I did it. I hope it will restore some vital part of you and that you’ll feel energized to share the experience with us.
I still can’t figure out how to not allow thoughts to run through my head, I continually got distracted throughout the 2 hours.
It seems like a 10 day retreat is a huge challenge – and if nothing else it will hopefully change your perspective on how to be in the moment and mindful, terms that are very a la mode at the moment. I don’t know if I could last that long but would like to give it a go, I look forward to your follow up on how it went no doubt it will be a very interesting experience. But apparently enlightenment is all about being mindful while doing drudgery so I guess I have an advantage although I am currently only just enlightened enough to realise that I will probably never be enlightened.
I don’t even do naps because there’s always something better to do … like read!
From that comes an answer that is always consistent, you meditate and get an answer, you meditate the next day having the same problem and offer it up and get the same answer on how to proceed. It was the sterile loneliness it brought on o and having to sit for god knows how many hours…I ended up having to sit on a chair at the back.
It is a fantastic gift that SN Goenka has given to people—the ability to go to a retreat and for 10 days and not have to worry about deadlines, bills, food, fuel, kids, or the baggage retrieval system at Heathrow. Being the loquacious type, there had been a fair amount of ridicule about me not lasting 10 minutes, let alone 10 days, on a silent retreat, and I was worried about my odds. I listened to the conversations happening around me, and it suddenly occurred to me how much of speech is just white noise. It meant that I could interact with people without having to make silly little comments about the weather, mutual acquaintances, or common tasks. The times when I really did miss talking was when I knocked into something or someone, broke something, or accidentally put rubbish into a fellow mediator’s breakfast. Firstly, I realized that the back story I made up for all these people is not only wrong, but almost always opposite to reality. There were no dumb conversations about how much money one made or sitting on a bus to somewhere. Over time, I find that I have to consciously cleanse my diet, and only eat steamed vegetables for a couple of days to reset my expectations. Since there are no electronic devices, such as phones or computers, or any distractions such as deadlines, there was a true peacefulness, although it was difficult to get used to. At first it was really frustrating, but by about day four, there was a calmness granted by the solitude and celibacy of the place. You may get a huge revitalization and be able to start your life with a newly found passion. Michael has written in many different formats, from blogging, prank letters, to government submissions, law journals, and books. 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. 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.
For most, the practice involves grabbing a cushion, plopping oneself down with eyes closed, and turning one's focus within. Emotional challenges, physical problems, and spiritual maladies are just some of the things that meditation can help provide both relief and insight into. Unfortunately, this view on how to cultivate peace and happiness is focused in the wrong direction. Some use it to relieve stress and anxiety, while others use the practice to tap into their creative center. Sun worshipping in Bali? An African safari? How about a donation-funded retreat that involves 4am wake up bells, absolute silence, abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol, only two meals a day, and a high chance of excruciating pain from 100 hours spent sitting in meditation?

I searched for one while living in Thailand, but found that even in the remote corners of the country they were booked up months in advance. Much of the time I don’t have any real purpose for disappearing down an internet rabbit hole, but I generally wake some hours later in a slack-jawed stupor, scrolling through Buzzfeed lists of cute cats doing stupid things. After giving everything to my first book to help it succeed, I’ve come to associate art creation with sheer exhaustion. Escaping technology and discovering real silence would be so refreshing, but maybe for three days to start and make sure my brain doesn’t explode?
I should look into retreats in my area instead of waiting until I can make it happen somewhere exotic. However I am fascinated by those able to immerse into this type of experience and I want to know all the deets. Eventually the intellectual mind goes away and the subconscious thoughts come up while doing meditation. The alternation between sitting and walking helps a lot with the physical challenge of sitting for so long. I listened to people talk about how much money they made, what they did for a living and why, what their favorite holidays were and what trips they had planned in the future. It’s an amazing thing when communication is removed: a group of 60 strangers from very diverse backgrounds, who might not get along in other circumstances, can just live, perfectly happy and at peace in quite a small and confined space. I completely misunderstood and misjudged everyone (except for the arsehole-artist-want-to-be from Perigian Beach—I picked that guy perfectly). I wonder how often we do this in normal life, without the ability to see our mistakes on day 10. The food at the retreat was fantastic for this type of re-calibration, but it was a shock for the first few days. Secondly, since I spent the whole day looking through myself, focusing on different things, that I was just plain exhausted, physically and mentally. I just smiled politely and said “I understand, I used to think that.” When this happens to you, you can always just start silently mouthing a prayer-like phrase prior to eating or drinking – that’ll put the focus back on your weird calmness. If we do not observe this, it will bubble to the surface and influence our reactions to present and future events. His first full length novel, How To Espress Life into a Very Small Cup was released in 2010 to great acclaim. An idea will pop into my head and for a minute I will think: Oh, that’s a great idea! But the idea of living a deeply spiritual life where all I do is pray, sleep and eat is very appealing to me.
There can be a difficulty here if the intellectual part of the mind reestablishes it presence and tries to analyze the problem jumping like a monkey from thought to thought not knowing which to choose, no consistency, for a solution. It would definitely change you, I guess it depends on the person if he really focus on the program. It’s not just sitting and breathing, it is overcoming incredible internal challenges. Sitting cross-legged on the floor for twelve hours also makes any bed seem equivalent to oral-sex from a couple of angels. We will react badly because we are reacting to a past injury, not to the present situation.
He is currently finishing a second novel in the same genre, while developing his skills in the lost arts of beach-bumming and navel gazing. If you find you can add numbers in your head, the intellect is back, so start concentrating on your breath again to put the intellect away. On day seven I found myself thinking, “These prunes are so much better than yesterday, but not nearly as good as the prunes on day four.” The cleansing qualities of simple food was made all even more apparent because there was no choice or comparison. I’m not sure that this is true, but I found it a great vehicle for reclaiming a fair bit of stuff that had fallen by the wayside over the years.
But the burst of energy quickly turns to memories of all-encompassing exhaustion, and the fragile seed of an idea is immediately crushed by defeated thoughts: Too hard.
You’re right, some of the stuff we put our energy into paying attention really just suck.
Lets start with adventure, the finding out about yourself by going into the deepest part of who you are, that is your feelings and to know the cause, which can be hidden by the intellect, the rationalizing calculating part of the mind. In fact I have even heard it said that trying to follow that Advice is like dying, or maybe for you, the possibility of drowning. It’s also very similar to Jungian understandings of the self, of which I have always been a fan. These topical pingpong matches are just cheap distractions to keep us from the discomfort of what is there inside us when all the noise stops.
After a while you will experience enlightenment while meditating, finding the wisdom about how to proceed and evolve into a better person. If you witness a crew overboard situation, you do not sit and meditate about it, you throw a lifejacket at them, hopefully with a personal locator beacon in it and a strobe light if night time, hit the crew overboard button on the chart plotter to mark the place in the ocean (if you have the chart, one that is on) and go through the procedure for recovering the person. So, there is the fear of changing yourself to something better, your intellect, who you think your are, does not want to change. Of course the person overboard should have had the lifejacket on already, and have been tied to a jack lines that runs around the exterior a few feet from the edge, not the edge of the boat, that keeps a person from going over in the first place.
I have nothing against modern technology, even computers; after all I am using one to post here.
With a psychologist, one can sit and talk about a fear and eventually find where the fear originates. I like to be comfortable because I find the lotus position painful after a while and I cannot meditate while in pain. If you are flexible, maybe you can do the lotus position as it does give a person a kind of grounded feeling while watching the breath. It’s quick and you do not have to pay someone to listen to you, although in you situation, I think you wrote an interesting book instead. After practicing for a few months, you can just slip into meditation without watching the breath, or whatever you like to concentrate on. As for your fear of sharks, you desensitized yourself by facing your fear by getting on a sailboat and putting yourself into an area where there might be sharks. That’s how a psychologist works with a phobia by placing the client in a situation that evokes some fear, like knowing that sharks do not exist near dolphins so you get your feet wet and eventually you are not that fearful when there are no dolphins about.

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