This is the second part of my story about my experience with the Vipassana retreat. If you are not familiar with the first part. Go check it out!
The fourth day started as usual at 4 a.m. I felt like it was a bit easier to wake up so early. At least I was not dragging myself out of bed and was not begging the universe to magically bring me back home in my cozy bed. Before the first meditation that started at 4:30 a.m., I had time to go downstairs, take a sip of warm water and go for a walk outside for a couple of minutes. That became my tradition there from day 4. It helped me to wake more up and to prepare my body for the next two hours sitting meditation.
Early morning meditations were different: you feel different sensations, your body is very sensitive, you feel excited about the coming breakfast. But you are also struggling with sleep. Sleep is dragging you back, your eyes are very heavy and your mind wonders.
Breakfast was the favorite part of the day. You are already so proud of yourself that you have done the early morning meditation instead of sleeping soundly in bed. And you are ready to have some tasty cereal with healthy goodies and peanut butter on the freshly made whole grain bread. Oh, how I miss it now! After breakfast, you have time to take a stroll outside or a small stroll to your bed to disappear in your sweet dreams for an hour before the next meditation.
Gong rings. You are ready to go on your next meditation, a group one with teachers. This mediation was compulsory for everyone. The managers were checking everyone that they were on their cushions. If you were sleeping soundly in your bed, you would have been kindly asked to wake up and join the rest of the group.
After group meditation, there is another meditation and at 11 a.m. lunch. Lunch was varied and freshly prepared. 4th-day lunch, for instance, looked like this:
- wholemeal rice
- gado gado sauce
- marinated baked tofu
- broccoli carrots vegetables
- green salad
- marinated beetroot salad
- cooked tomatoes, carrots and sprouts
Amazing, right? Besides, no one was restricting you on how much you should eat and drink. After lunch, you were free to do anything you want until the next meditation (p.s. you can check out the timetable for vipassana retreat at the end of this post).
Introduction of the vipassana technique
From the 1st day till 4 p.m. of the day 4 our meditation technique was anapana, which means that we had to pay attention to our breath and sensations that arose near our nose area. Further, at a group meditation at 4 p.m., we were introduced to a new meditation technique called vipassana, which means to see things as they really are. I will not go very deep into the explanation of this technique. And I will just say that from that time and on we had to constantly move our attention throughout the body, from up to down and vice versa and to pay attention without judging to all the sensations that were arising.
Which sensations? you may ask. Pain, tingling, itching, numbness, heat, pressure, trembling, pins, needles, etc.
Evening. Tea. Fruits. Meditation again. Evening stroll. Video lectures from Goenka. Small meditation with the instruction for the next day. Sleep.
My feelings during the vipassana retreat
Gong. 4 a.m. I think you already understood the drill of how every day at vipassana retreat looked like. From now on I will be paying more attention to how did it feel being there.
On day 5, when we were already practicing the vipassana technique, I started feeling sensations in my throat, it felt like heartburn. I was already planning in my head to go to a manager and to ask a pill against heartburn, but I did not do it. Instead, I drank some milk thinking that it should help. In the end, it disappeared till the next meditation. At the next meditation, I started feeling heartburn again. It felt really annoying. I think only on day 7 I figured out that that was the kind of sensation that the teacher was talking about. Felt very weird tho. Anyway, every time I managed to make my mind still and non-judgy, a new sensation appeared. And most of the sensations were unfortunately not the butterflies in the stomach. But painful sensations.
What I noticed was every time I felt that painful sensation and was not reacting on it in any way (craving or rejecting, mostly rejecting, of course), it disappeared after a while. In addition, every day I was feeling happier and kinder to people. That heaviness, unhappiness, and darkness inside were dissipating. As a result, at the end of 9th-day people stopped being annoying in my eyes and I had a genuine need to help them.
End of the retreat. My thoughts
Also, at the end of the retreat, I started feeling comfortable with being on my own, in my own head and with my own thoughts. I think that was because I stopped being stressed about own thoughts because they are just thoughts but not reality. Because everything will pass and everything will change! Life is going on and the darkness does not last forever!
In conclusion, I should say that going on this retreat was one of my best decisions! Thus, I highly recommend you too to experience it!
Finally, if you want to experience a vipassana retreat on yourself, you can check out all the necessary details on their official website.