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My 10-Day Vipassana Experience – Part I

Everything I Need

“Removing old conditionings from the mind and training the mind to be more equanimous with every experience is the first step toward enabling one to experience true happiness.” – S.N. Goenka

An Overview:

To cap off the North Island Road trip, I signed up for my first 10-day Vipassana course.  I felt like this was the perfect time in my life to commit to the program.

Set in a beautiful valley just north of Kaukapakapa, there is a place called Dhamma Medini Vipassana Meditation Centre.  There, you experience 10 days in silence and meditate for about 11 hours per day.  No talking, intoxicants, music, sex, exercising, writing, phones, eye contact, internet, interaction with the opposite sex, drawing, tight clothing, masterbating, killing any living creature, physical contact, or reading.  For ten days.

Ten.

So what is Vipassana?

“Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques and means, to see things as they really are.

After being lost for centuries, the technique was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2,500 years ago.  Presently, there are Vipassana centres all over the world.  This particular course was taught through recordings and discourses by S.N. Goenka.

It is a non-sectarian technique.

While having Eastern roots and a Buddhist lineage, it can be practiced by ANYONE regardless of culture, religion, beliefs, background, or race.  It aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and curing personal miseries.

Vipassana focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body.  It is a way to transform the self through self-observation.

The end goal is full liberation from the mind and ultimate happiness.

By experiencing disciplined attention to the physical sensations felt within the body, one can begin to discover the interconnection and condition the life of the mind.  It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the root of mind THROUGH the body that begins to dissolve mental impurities.  The results are a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

It’s scientific!  This is the part I dig.  Vipassana abides by scientific law – that humans and everything that surrounds us are simply comprised of vibrating subatomic particles.  No scientist would argue this.  You are observing what you actually feel.  When your nose is itchy, that’s fucking REAL!  There is no faith or need to believe in something that happened in the past.  There are no rites, rituals, or behaviours that are required to prepare oneself for the future.  You are only focused on the here and now and whatever you are experiencing in the present moment – that’s it.

After practice, the connections between one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear.  Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering, or frees oneself from suffering is understood.  Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control, and peace.”

I arrived on June 4th and was greeted by warm, friendly faces and assigned a small private room in the female quarters:

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My room at Dhamma Medini and view for 10 days

After reading the detailed overview of the course and rules, I committed to stay for the full 10 days and to abide by the 5 precepts:

  1. to abstain from killing any being
  2. to abstain from stealing
  3. to abstain from all sexual activity
  4. to abstain from telling lies
  5. to abstain from all intoxicants

Here was the basic course schedule:

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell (my LEAST fav time of day!)
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room–Lights out

So… how did it go?

This was by far THE most powerful, life-changing, reality-altering experience I have ever had in my ENTIRE life.  I experienced something so profound and new that I am having a difficult time absorbing it all in- let alone attempting to express it through words.  It was the most physically demanding and strenuous thing I have ever put myself through (and I thought sitting around meditating would be RELAXING)!  It was a relentless mental battle and surge of emotions.  I am excited, transformed, humbled, and utterly uplifted!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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