Incomplete thoughts from 10 days at a silent meditation retreat




Around two years ago, my friend Kyle got back from his first Vipassana Meditation Retreat and told me about it. I listened in awe and thought maybe I could do something like that if I had bigger balls and a stronger will power.

In the following two years my mind thought about the retreat maybe once every four months. My favorite podcast also brought it up periodically making me more and more curious.

Finally I committed and signed up for my first retreat. I have around 5 ish months to prepare. I upped my routine to twenty minutes, twice a day which I learned wasn’t nearly enough.

Here are a couple of reflections:

After being deprived of serotonin, dopamine, any good feeling neuromodulator, you name it, nature renders more beautiful. You could say the clouds are in HD. A simple thing like a night sky filled with clouds and not stars can make you smile. An extraordinary thing like a double rainbow where you can see each color, when it was snowing the day before, made all of us jump out of our seats and go outside and watch, speechless, because we couldn’t talk.

I was feeling a little off, so I asked myself what I could add to my, within my own power, to make myself feel better. I had a roof over my head. I could shit and pee whenever I want. I ate good food twice a day. I had a bed. Yeah, I couldn’t talk or look at my phone or exercise. But I had literally all the essentials and I wasn’t paying a penny. So why was I feeling shitty? Did I really just want to talk? Why was my baseline at such a low level? What could I do to raise that level? What else did I need? Was I so gassed up with my phone, worldly pleasures, external unhealthy stimuli that now I just felt withdrawal?

Because we meditated all day, whenever the food bell rang, we all scrambled like dogs. Food was our only stimuli. I wasn’t even hungry when they rang lunch yet I rushed out of there to make sure I was first.

My mind wanders like crazy when I try to meditate. I believe that’s my mind fighting the need to meditate, to achieve silence, or a sankhara as they say in the Vipassana world.

I can achieve anything I put my mind to, within reason, including this ten day retreat that lots of people left. Yes I could’ve left and wanted to leave but I knew I can’t leave in the middle of the surgery like Goenka said. Staying the ten days will lead to much more healing and growth and leaving after day whatever will just be a waste of those days.

After sitting for ten days straight and for some sittings without movement, the pain in my back went away and I started getting better at tolerating it.

I’m not really sure what to make of all this. I need to do more reading about it and reflect more. I wish I had my journal for maybe even three minutes a night so I could just write down to quick thoughts. It seems like hedonic adaptation of the real world really just makes me want to forget about the whole retreat. Whereas, it was an amazing feeling to be able to talk again and sing. Even just talking to myself was amazing. Listening to music again was also blissful. And now, not three days later, I find myself skipping song after song after song.


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