Writing this reminds me of my attempt to write about the camino. Words are never quite enough to encapsulate experience. Our memories of things distort what we thought we felt or experienced at the time. And thus, I’m suffering the same affliction in my attempt to put into words what I experienced during 10-days of silent meditation. Possibly the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in life.
For those requiring a brief rundown: I recently completed a 10-day vipassana course at the Dhamma Dipa Centre in Herefordshire, England. What that entails is joining a retreat, pledging as a student to follow the precepts of the teachings (which require a noble silence – no conversing, no sensual input (reading, movies, phones etc.,) and then spending 10 days in meditation.
What I found it to actually be was an exercise in spirit and mental fortitude. Yes vipasanna is an ‘educational’ course but it was also, at least for me, a huge test. Being alone with only your mind for company and stimulus, especially when you’re haunted by all myriad of mental falterings and demons, can only be described as torturous and horrific. But entirely necessary if you ever hope to liberate yourself from everything you perceive to be holding you back.
And ultimately, before I dive into further analysis, some kind of liberation is what I got. I recognise that everything I associate with myself (or what I assume to be my ego) is simply an invention and imagination of the mind. Being reminded of this, as you incessantly are during vipassana, can be, I believe, a healthy dose of reality for all people. Especially those striving and suffering to get here or there. Believing the stakes are high and that the outcome matters. That they need this or that. That something, in the future, will ‘complete’ them or deliver them a certain sense of happiness or peace.
The truth is none of it will. And to understand that you can’t intellectualise it. You have to experience it. Read More