Am I tied to Vipassana meditation
10 days without speaking, writing or reading - a field report
This is a guest post by Anja Winter. I met Anja in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has lived there for eight months and enjoys life. In a conversation she mentioned a 10-day meditation course that she had completed some time ago in Germany. The rules of the course: do not speak, do not write, do not read. You can find out why she did this to herself and why she recommends it in this post.
We humans think, think, think. Incessantly. We find it difficult to control our (often negative) thoughts. This creates fears and worries about things that usually don't happen anyway.
Meditation helps us live in the moment. When we meditate (i.e. pay attention to our breath or our body) we live in the moment without thinking or judging. If we live in the moment, no fears and worries can spread, because these are tied to time.
At myMONK you will find numerous arguments in favor of meditation.
My entry into meditation
I came to meditation a few years ago when I signed up for the ten day Vipassana meditation course decided. It all started when my mom took the course and told me about it. She had liked it astonishingly well. For me, meditation was something I had heard of many times before, but which basically still seemed very strange to me. I knew it had something to do with relaxation and stress reduction, but I had no idea what exactly it meant.
But I figured I should just try it - it would definitely be worth an experience. In addition, I was just finishing high school and had a lot of stress at school, so meditation seemed a sensible thing to me.
I did not have any special expectations from the course, I only hoped that it would to become a little more relaxed and me for years Getting rid of the vice of chewing your fingernails once and for all.
What is Vipassana?
In the Buddhist tradition, Vipassana means "insight into the true nature of reality". This reality includes the three characteristics of being: impermanence, suffering, and the realization of "not-self".
Vipassana meditation is a method of using mindfulness of breath and thoughts to gain insight into the true nature of things.
In Germany, the Vipassana Center is located in Triebel, a small town in the Vogtland. There are 10-day courses that you can register for directly on the website. Vipassana courses are traditionally run on a donation basis. That means in plain language: As a participant you only pay as much as you actually want.
My experience in the Vipassana course
Meditation is like so many things in life: you can only really understand it if you try it out yourself. Nevertheless, I would like to report on my experiences.
The meditation center is secluded on a mountain in the middle of green nature. This environment enables the participants to relax and live in harmony with nature.
The four-man rooms are kept simple, but very clean. Every day there is vegetarian (very varied!) Food.
The process is the same every day and that was exactly one of my biggest challenges. Routine is and has never been something for me. But the course is strictly structured and as a participant you should adhere to the rules as far as possible, otherwise the course will not bring the desired results.
At 4 o'clock the gong sounds to get up. As a late riser, this was another source of displeasure for me. Then the first meditation begins - which some participants misunderstood as "sleep meditation".
In total, you meditate about ten hours a day - these are interrupted by three meals.
Every evening there is a lecture by Goenka - the founder of Vipassana. I've always been particularly looking forward to the lectures because, firstly, they helped to escape the routine and secondly, they shed some light on the theory behind the practice (mediation).
The "eternal silence": is that even possible?
Of the rules “don't speak, don't write and don't read”, surprisingly (for everyone who knows me as a “chatterbox”), “not speaking” was the easiest for me. Mind you, participants can speak to the gurus or helpers at any time if there is a problem or questions arise.
The most difficult thing for me was "not writing". While meditating, I constantly had new thoughts and ideas that I wanted to hold onto. But no: I tried to follow the rules.
In summary, there were ups and downs in the ten days. Heights mostly when the meditation was successful and I already noticed how I was slowly changing.
Depths, because I was bored in places, my body ached a bit at times (In the later part of the course you should sit completely for one hour without to move!) and sometimes I couldn't sleep in the evenings. The sleep problem is actually a good sign because it shows that you are less tired and that meditation is already starting to work (when you meditate you don't think and when you think less, you are less tired).
What brought the course
Would I recommend the course to others? A very clear YES! Although there were some hurdles to overcome, I would clearly call this course one of the most important events of my life so far describe. Why?
The best thing the course brought me is the ability to be able to listen to my inner voice. Today my voice not only steers me in the right direction when it comes to small questions of everyday life, but also when it comes to big questions in life such as "What do I want to do later?"
I also took off my little fingernail-biting vice for about a month after the course, but I started again later when the high school exams started. Nevertheless, it was an absolute highlight for me to actually be able to drum on a table with my fingernails.
Other advantages that I took away from the course:
- Improved logical thinking skills: Before I had a constant 11 to 12 points in math, after the course it was 14 to 15 points. I'm not sure if meditation actually improved my logical thinking skills or if it just helped me stay more relaxed and approach problems calmly.
- Less selfishness: Through meditation I feel noticeably more the desire to help others and not only to put myself in a good light, but because I really care about the well-being of other people.
- Improved ability to live in the moment: If we pay attention to our own thoughts for just a few minutes, we will quickly see how quickly they drift into the past or into the future. The course helped me to concentrate on the moment.
Can't you just meditate at home?
For me, this course was the introduction to meditation and although it was sometimes strenuous and some people get bored, I would definitely prefer a 10-day course in a meditation center to self-appropriation. While there's nothing wrong with practicing meditation on your own, taking a course has two key advantages:
- You're far from any distraction: No internet, no noise, no phone, no work, no relatives or acquaintances who want something from you. So you can concentrate 100% on the meditation. When you're at home, something always comes up.
- The course is well thought out and structured: Goenka said that the bare minimum for learning meditation is ten days - only then do you get to a level where you can call up meditation (“living in the moment”) at any time. The course is structured in such a way that it takes you by the hand as a beginner and teaches you the practice and explains the theory.
Today I still try to meditate daily (mostly after getting up). Sometimes I can do it for up to 20 minutes, sometimes I jump up again after 10 minutes because I can think of something that I “absolutely” want to do.
It is not easy to maintain the practice for a long time after the course. But if it doesn't work out, you can always attend a course again. In the meantime I have already taken part in the Vipassana course twice and spent two weeks (without silence) meditating in a Thai monastery.
Practical tips for the Vipassana course
- Book the course early, because the courses are occupied very quickly. Go to the website here.
- Just take comfortable clothing With. Nobody cares about how you look and you sit most of the day.
- Do not worryif the meditation does not work right away at the beginning. Just breathe nicely and gently direct your thoughts back to your breath as soon as they wander away. Don't think too much about the theory either.
We thank Anja for this guest post. If you want to read more from Anja, visit her blog Ania de Alemania.
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