Vipassana 10-day silent meditation retreat Part VI: How do you start talking and what do you say in your very first sentence after 9 days straight of NO speaking?!
25th November 2018
Oh, Holy Day 10, the silence shall be broken, we can speak again. Nobel Silence was broken after our first group meditation at 9:45am. Coming out of the meditation hall it was the weirdest thing. What do you say? How do you start even? The first few moments were very strange after you did not talk for an entire 9 days. The first person that talked to me was a lovely small Indian woman who has done this course 5 times already. We looked at each other and I could sense she obviously would wanted to check on me and see how I went. She broke the silence and asked how I felt and how I experienced the course. Once she asked me, she looked at me expectantly. I took a moment or two or three to reply (mostly because I was trying to find the words or some words). Jebus, how hard can it bloody be to speak, I thought to myself?! Eventually, I spoke and answered her questions and with every word that left my lips I felt myself getting back into the routine of speaking again and it got easier. This moment only took minutes but it seemed much longer! Very weird moment that was but also very interesting.
You could see all around you faces lighting up, smiles breaking out and laughter getting louder. It was like a wave, everyone seemed relieved, happy that they have made it through.
One thing that I realized once I talked to people was:
All that time, all those 9 days you saw those people walking past you, in front of you, met them in the bathroom, in the dining hall on the bushwalk. Everyone kept a straight stoney face, not showing any emotions or facial expressions. You started to create a picture of that person. Who they might be, where they were from, what lifestyle they might live and you assumed assumed assumed. I assumed a lot about Poppy. Poppy, the one who was taking the bushwalk like a racecourse, and then you find yourself talking to her and the picture that you've created for all those days was completely shattered by the mere talking to that person! What a bubbly, funny and energetic person she is, constantly making me laugh out loud and crying tears of laughter. Suddenly, mysteries that you have been pondering about all those last days got solved, people looked so different when they were not stone-faced. Poppy herself, had a hard time in those 9 days. Every day she seemed to have a breakdown, wanting to leave. The bushwalk-racing was a medicine for her to calm down and get herself back to normal - or at least to the point where she could stay... She too was naughty. As she is a blog-writer, marriage celebrant and Yoga teacher she desperately needed to write down thoughts as well. As she too gave everything away to be locked up safely, she found a way to ease her thoughts out of her mind: Having the alarm clock manual with her and her lipstick, she was able to jot down notes on this manual with her bright reddish-pink lipstick. I could not stop laughing. This was brilliant!
The lesson of Day 10:
Assumptions are the biggest fuck-up! NEVER assume anything, always make sure you ask and get the facts!
Day 11 was leaving day. They prepared us for the outer world again by letting us talk on Day 10. After breakfast, we could grab our belongings and phones and technology again. It was a lot of chit-chatting, numbers-swapping, contacts-sharing and heaps and heaps of smiley faces around. I was looking forward to going home, but what I also was very happy about the new connections I have made in this course. We might not have talked very much with each other but we all went through a bit of a tough time at stages, experiencing a 10-day silent meditation retreat together.
In the car on the road towards home, I cranked up the music so loud in my car as I have never had it before. The music was basically hugging me from all sides, I was swimming in it like in a big big ocean and it was the most amazing feeling! And on the top of my lungs, I was singing loudly all the way from Auckland to Taupo with hardly a break. (for those people who don't know how long it takes from Auckland to Taupo: It is a 3.5 - 4 hour drive) Had the one CD finished playing, I was already in starting mode to put the next one in the slot. Getting closer to Taupo I could feel my voice to leave me bit by bit. I did not care at all, I had too much fun using my voice again and singing along. My voice left me once I settled in home in Taupo for the evening. It would be slowly returning back within 1 – 2 weeks after I finished the course... :)
Conclusion of the course
- I did not reveal any new secrets of my current or past life. Maybe I did not get too deep to find them, but I seemed pretty chilled throughout the course. I did sort out my life already a few years back so that might be the reason for me being so chilled.
- I knew about the fact somehow that mind and body are connected. However, I have never experienced it that intense in person that your sensations and your thoughts are all so connected. That whatever hits your 6 senses gives you a reaction that you can actually feel if your mind has been trained to be that sensible. I found that quite an interesting insight and a beautiful experience which I can and will take on for future issues that may arise for me. I have been given the tools through this course and it may need some continuous practice to keep it up and get further developed but it is a great tool to have on hand and knowing that no-one else is to be blamed for your sensations but only yourself! You see, not somebody is responsible for you being happy, no one is responsible for you being sad or angry, it is all coming from you and your thoughts. Get that right :)
- It was a very good school of mindfulness and working with the mind to keep it in the present moment. It was very exhausting at times to have the mind concentrated for 10+ hours a day and that might have been also one of the reasons why I slept so well each night.
- Taking the lesson I got from Day 10 to not assume, I have vowed to myself now to live a judgement-free life. To add judgment-free to my values list. It is going to be quite difficult to master, as your mind is so conditioned to react and judge in this world but I have seen how often, when you judge (even yourself and then others), that things can get pretty messy. I will write another blog on this specific topic and my progress in the near future.
- If you want to learn something – practice! Practice practice practice. It does not matter how complicated or difficult the task is. You want to get it perfect? You want to master it like a pro? Does that seem daunting to you at the moment? Does that feeling seem to hold you back from actually starting it? Start. Just start - "Don't worry about getting it perfect. Get going." If you keep practising you will eventually get there and reach this goal.
In German, we have a saying: “Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen” (this translates into English: “No master has fallen from the sky yet”) – continuous practice is the key to succeeding. This, I have learned from my current studies as well. And it applies to almost anything. As we progressed through those ten days I was surprised at how easy in the end it was:
To sit in one posture, not moving hands, feet and still feel ok after getting up.
To concentrate the mind on the present moment, observing the body and its sensations.
Some advice for people who would like to try and experience a Vipassana Meditation Course themselves (and also for everyone else to apply in their lives as a little life-advice):
- Do not compare yourself to others and their experiences!You are unique, rare and no one is the same as you. Everyone comes with a different story, a different past and different kind of baggage – there is no experience the same.
- Do it, don't just listen to somebody's story and description and expect to know it and how it might feel to you. One can not learn from a mere description of something. One will have to experience it themselves, step into action and see for themselves. Apply the theory by getting into action and learning by doing has a much much stronger impact as well and it will stick with you deeply rooted. The same applies to coaching people – It would not be enough or would not get great results if I would tell my clients exactly what to do and what solutions and strategies there are for them to get their well-being journey on their way, reach their goals and see proper results. They have to come up with their own ideas, strategies and solutions and I, as the coach, am only leading, supporting and directing them by asking specific questions.
Would I do this course again? First thought: No. Second thought: Maybe.
The hardest part was the sitting bit. Even though I now can sit very easily and comfortably in one posture for an entire hour, I did not really enjoy the sitting part. I am an active person - hiking, cycling, doing yoga, swimming, kayaking – you name it, I love exercise and moving. This was being confined to a little space for 10 days and sitting was the worse.
The best part was the silence. I enjoyed it very much and would not say that this is very difficult to accomplish.
If I ever would do it again, then in a different country with a different scenery. I almost now know ever tree and leave and all the glowworms, birds and ants in this centre up north of Auckland. And as much as they will constantly change, I would not like to see them again. ;)
Try for yourself, don't take my experience to be your own, jump in and see what it will do for you.