When I lived in Brazil I heard about a meditation technique called Vipassana. I was amazed to hear the amount of benefits it brings but at the same time with a feeling of fear that I would not be able to do something like that.
2022 has been a year of many changes, and remembering Sulara's mantra to balance the mind, body and spirit I reached a point where I realised I was not at that place. This same year I had done a mentorship with Livia de Bueno, a spiritual mentor from Brazil, to strengthen my path with spirituality and she recommended that I do Vipassana. That resonated with me and while on holiday I felt the call to do it and I thought, why is this not the time to overcome my own fears and find that space for me to balance and have that moment of silence for myself?
And that was the moment I signed up to do my first Vipassana which was being held two hours north of London in Suffolk at the Dhamma Sukhakāri center. The 10 day Vipassana course has been one of the most transformative experiences I have had in this life and the benefits I saw coming back from this experience have motivated me to share with you a little about this experience.
What is Vipassana Meditation?
Vipassana is a Pali word which means ‘to see’ things as they really are. While there are many theories about the several meditation techniques started by Buddha, there is strong evidence that Buddha mainly taught Vipassana. Though this technique got lost in India, much later, in 1976, SN Goenka brought it back to India, and from there it expanded all around the world.
During the course you are not connected to the world, not speaking to anyone for those 10 days, eating a vegetarian diet (which was so delicious) and doing 10 hours of meditation every day with breaks. It sounds difficult, and it is, but in my personal experience it has been incredible; where I felt the strongest pains I have ever experienced as well as the strongest connection between my soul, body and spirit.
Why is the course 10 days long?
The course is designed in such a way that you have to spend a minimum of 10 days to learn it gradually and see the benefits afterward. The course is taught in a step-by-step process. Every day there’s a little more than the previous day. During the first 3 days, they teach how to concentrate on the mind. Those three days of practice sharpen the mind and prepare it for what’s coming next. From the 4th day, they start teaching the actual technique of Vipassana which is ‘to see’ into your body.
There are some rules:
You cannot speak or communicate (non-verbal communication like eye-contact is a no-no)
No reading or writing
Food is restricted after the mid-day meal. (New students are allowed to have some fruit at the 5 pm break).
You must adhere to the meditation schedule of 10+ hours of meditation and an hour to watch and listen to a video of SN Goenka in the evening explaining what happened today and will happen in the following days.
My advice if you are going to Vipassana for the first time!
From my point of view, the best way to attend Vipassana is to go with an open mind, without expectations and surrender to the flow of what the universe has for that moment.
I organized everything I needed but unfortunately I took way too much. From my experience, I now know that I should take the bare essentials, but being the first time, I wanted to feel that I had everything I needed to make the experience more harmonious.
Weeks before the retreat I tried to have my last meal before 6 pm to enable the body to get used to it and wake up much earlier than usual to accustom myself to the time I would have to get up on retreat, 4 am. Then I would meditate, my normal 15-30 minute routine. Outside of that, I just prepared myself not to have expectations and trust that what I was going to experience there was what my soul needed.
If you feel the call to have an experience to connect with your soul and balance mind, body and spirit, I highly recommend going on this retreat, which will open a new path for our being. I'm not saying that this experience is the easiest and most harmonious thing there is, no. I felt the most inexplicable pains that I have felt in my life but this was nothing more than cleaning up my fears, insecurities and experiences that have remained in my memory in this and other lives. I hope this will motivate you and if you feel the call to go, I recommend it from the bottom of my heart.
This is the link of the organization for more information if you are interested.