What an experience!!! When i decided to go for 10 days Vipassana meditation course in Bali, I had no idea that the universe had a different plan for me and I will end up in Thailand doing 26 days course instead. I had a clear goal of getting more focused and concentrated, get away from any distractions, get more centred to follow my dreams. At that moment I met this amazing women who shared her experience with me and straight away i knew it was for me. I believe, everything happens for a reason – people you meet, conversations you have, places you go. It did not take me to long to decide and I had just over a month to prepare myself to enter 26 days of silence, meditation and self-observation. It’s quite a commitment!
I arrived at Wat Ram Poeng Monastery in Thailand, Chiang Mai and the practise started as soon as I was checked-in, got my own room and white clothing. The Insight Meditation technique taught here is a way to prepare a path to a better, peaceful life through clear understanding about one self. Vipassana Meditation develops self-understanding through Mindfulness Training. The teachings were based on The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Contemplation of the Body, Feelings, Mind (Thought) and Objects of the Mind. No talking, reading, writing, music, mobile phone, internet were allowed during the course.
The day started at 4am with only two meals a day, with no solid food after midday. Sleeping 6 hours the first few weeks, followed by 4 hours and then no sleep for the last three days and nights. The last three nights are called Determination, when you are showing your commitment to the practice. During determination you are not aloud to leave your room, except when it was time to report to the teacher. In total I put in 278 hours of meditation, 12 hours a day and 16 hours the last 3 days. One hour of mindful walking followed by one hour of sitting meditation. Mindful walking is when each step you take you acknowledge the movement. For example, heel up – lifting – moving – lowering – touching – pressing… and you won’t believe…it takes around 10-12 seconds for one step, so you move like a snail.
Most of you may ask, what have I achieved during this silent meditation? How did I manage to stay awake for three days and nights? What is the point? Let me just explain you what have I gained out of this experience. I have learned the way to self-transformation through self-observation. Being continuously mindful of what happens to the five aggregates (body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness). Acknowledging my feelings and learning to accept it. Clearing my mind from past and future thoughts while concentrating on the breathing and one by one 28 focal points across my body and stay in the NOW. At that moment you understand that your mind is full of bullshit, conditioned from society, TV and media, people’s opinions, imagination. I was watching my mind like a movie, saw people I have never met, got into monologues and dialogues about things I have no clew about… that was incredible to see how your thoughts just jumping from past to the future and vice versa and how hard it is to stay present. However, the more you practice the easier it becomes to stay present and detach yourself from physical and mental suffering created by your mind and thoughts. You start to realise that you are creating your own suffering by letting your thoughts to take control over your mind.
The goal of Insight Meditation is to gain clear, complete understanding of the three obvious characteristics: Impermanence, Suffering and Non-Self. Having gained an insight in to the three characteristics, one realises that everything in the world is transient, subject to suffering and uncontrollable. I have gone through experiencing impatience, anger, tears, happiness, frustration, restlessness and understanding how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering. I felt as if I was a watcher or observer of my own self.
Was it hard and challenging you may wonder. It wasn’t easy, it was intense but i knew exactly why I was putting myself through this. It was an extraordinary experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Would I do it again? I could not answer this question for a few weeks after the course, but now I can say I will be coming back for more. When you understand it’s benefits, you forget about the pain…