A few months ago I became interested in meditation.
Today, I returned from a ten-day silent retreat in the desert city of Twentynine Palms, California where we learned the Vipassana silent meditation technique. This technique involves a remarkably impressive method of visualization.
For the last 10+ days, a group of about 80 of us literally lived like Buddhist monks & nuns that involved the following code of discipline:
1. No talking (Noble Silence, in other words we took a vow of silence where we, the students, never spoke amongst ourselves. This included no hand gestures, signaling, or eye contact. I only spoke about two sentences, each day, to my instructors and some days I literally didn’t speak a single sentence.)
2. No contact with the outside world. (No phones, no electronics, etc. We turned over our phones and car keys at the beginning of the course and didn’t get them back until the end of the tenth day.)
3. No reading
4. No writing
5. No exercising
6. No rituals
7. No stealing
8. No lying
9. No sexual activity
10. No intoxicants
For ten hours a day, for ten days, we meditated. A gong woke us up at 4 am, each morning, and we began the day with two straight hours of meditation at 4:30 am. The final daily meditation ended at 9 pm.
For ten days, no one left the training center compound (unless they quit or were expelled). Fortunately, there were walking paths through the desert within the grounds.
Why did I attend? Simply to learn this technique of meditation.
The course is 100% free including full room and board (breakfast, lunch, and a late afternoon tea break). It’s strictly donation-based. And donations are only accepted from students who have completed the course. Vipassana has close ties to Buddhism. Keep in mind that Buddhism is a philosophy practice, not a religion, making the Vipassana meditation technique highly compatible with most any other religion, including atheism.
What do I think of the experience? It far exceeded my expectations.
It was grueling to sit for hours and mind-numbing to only focus on your breath and body, but it was so well worth it. It became easier and more rewarding as the days went by. Every single person was glowing at the end of the course, when Noble Silence ended (jokingly called “noble chatter”). I have no plans to become a Buddhist but I’m definitely eager to continue the Vipassana meditation technique.
Now please excuse me while I take some time to catch up on my 294 unread e-mails, along with 68 text messages and a host of other social media notifications and voicemails.
More about Vipassana here: https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/code
A new Twentynine Palms course begins about every two weeks: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/schedules/schvaddhana