Start with a calm and quiet mind. Comienza con la mente calma y tranquila.
The Jungle is never silent. Not even a second or a scratch of a second. There is always some kind of noise. Animals. Insects. Leaves in the wind. Fruit touching base from the heights of a tree. Never silence.
Silence is not natural. For us. Yet, we humans may be distinct from the rest out there because we do choose the unnatural. We can choose to step out of the daily, the ordinary. Sometimes to go deeper into our souls. And make ourselves better people to this loud planet.
Like many of you out there, surely, I am equipped with a pretty wild mind. It just keeps going, not letting me rest. It might be that I just got a lot to go through, but it is also music, constant beats in the back of my head, one string of thought and another, sometimes two. And still music. And when I sleep, dream after dream, and sometimes dream in dream, Inception is my life, dude. But, I chose to live more mindful. And I am doing quite alright. I am taming this beast, step by step, consciousnessly, because I want more from life. Even though I am not all so spiritual myself, I am sure there is a higher something, souls, spirit, and ‘things’ way passed science and what we can grasp with the 25% of our brain, that we use. I like to stay open minded towards it all and learn. I am curious, and I want to experience everything life has to offer. But if anyhow possible, with balance, and with mindfulness. And this can be practiced. It is hard work. But, how important is this life to you? Do you love being able to see, smell, feel and do you want to be fully there for this life?
Decide to take full 10 days in silence and without any kind of personal recreation. And learn to meditate.
This is called Vipassana and is a 2500 year old meditation technique.
It is like…The Army of Meditation.
Like…. a Full Body Massage but… INSIDEOUT. Starting with the depth of your brain.
Sometimes, feeling like a prick stabbing your head, other times you are electrified, like you are sitting in a blood bubble traveling through your veins. Sometimes shaking, trembling, vibrating. Sometimes beautifully, others painfully.
No mantras. No chants. No distraction. Just full blown self-observation, acceptance, equanimity and realism at its most subtle level. Mind Matters Most.
No religious strings, no sectarianism. No fee. A donation at the end of the course is optional. For 10 days of accommodation, 3 meals a day, a trustworthy teacher to have you learn to meditate and enrich your life, and a bunch of loving servers and managers. All volunteering.
Everything and all come together for self-healing. Self-healing is healing others. The circle closes.
There is still good on this earth. Just search for it. You may find.
**** Continue Reading for more detail and photo about my personal experience and Tepeyac.
A touch of information on the practice and the particular experience of 10 days in silence, learning to meditate and also, the location in Nicaragua itself. Not too much though. Because I appreciated how little knowledge I had starting this schooling, it was kind of nice to have a feeling of surprise within 10 days of silence with yourself anticipating each and every hour of the day, the weekdays, how many more meditation sits are about to come and how many have passed.
A glance into our Vipassana Retreat at Tepeyac, close to Granada in Nicaragua. Beginning in Granada, with a pack full of white, clean and simple clothing, the very basics, no pen, no book, no music, no phone or laptop, I crossed the market and passed by green avocados and pink dragonfruits, dead meat in the color of roses, raw fish stinking away in 35 degrees. The bus stop is right behind the blue/white market building. It goes towards Rivas but I will only be on it for about 20 minutes. I communicate to the driver that I am going to Tepeyac and while I am still watching villages and dark green swim by, the guy who collects little money for the drive yells TEPEYAC TEPEYAC. The driver sneaks in a full stop and I am being pushed out as fast as possible, hugging a dear friend that was with me for about a month and who was about to continue his travels. With teary eyes I silently wished him strength and he wished me healing, he didn’t say, but I knew.
We all get there. Everybody is so chatty. And I am confused. I guess anxious. I just want to be quiet. I am overly tired after 5 months of budget travels, I had tried a lot, learned a lot, experienced a lot, seen too much to remember. I was tired and I thought, ‘this will be easy!’ Finally, I will have a chance to not listen to a bunch of bullshit and chat, get fed 3 times a day, sleep and sit on the ground, all that whilst I learn to meditate. I knew there was a slight possibility of this being the hardest thing ever. But I procrastinated in optimism. It is dark by now. We walk towards the meditation hall, being in the center of the U Shaped building accommodating about 40 ladies and 25 men. We are shown our spot, where we will spend up 11 hours daily, mine is #34. I look at 33, think about my boyfriend. Look up to my left seat neighbor. It is the cute, chatty Canadian that sat across from me at dinner. To my right, a strong looking warrior whom I hadn’t noticed before. I have no idea how this is going to feel like.
I cried so much. Sometimes, it just had to flow. So I allowed it. The first time I cried was after 24 hours. I know funny. It was the only time I truly felt lonely. The first shock. It only lasted about 45 minutes before I realized how foolish I am. Then, I reminded myself of how privileged, loved and supported I am, and the future I have ahead of me, that I am free to design and is holding plenty of (creative) opportunities. All this was the only thing that kept me going through a lot of pain, frustration and fascination.
3 full days, 33 hours, passed by focusing on a teeny tiny part of our body. And believe me, when you do that, after a while, there will be a sensation at that point. Tingling, tickling, vibrating. I thought holy wow this is gonna be BORING! But then. Day 4, there was a sign at the hall. Day of Vipassana had arrived. Our lives were about to be changed. From 3-5PM that day, under the sweat and heat of the jungle, we learned how to move that sensation we created with focus through our entire body. Part-by-Part. 2 hours. These were possibly the 2 most intense hours I experienced. Almost all of the time was guided by audio instruction and the feeling that I had for my body had me travel to somewhere out of this world. Sometimes it hurt, sometimes it felt fantastic, but most of all: It all passed. If I had the power or not, it passed. Everything passes. We now do this, for the remaining 6 days. We move sensations through our shaking bodies, up and down, then parallel, then all over, like someone pouring a bucket of water over your head. Believe me, sometimes you are so freaking surprised by what is happening to you, you can’t help but ball your eyes out after a successful sit. And others, I couldn’t help tearing up out of pure frustration or emotion coming up, causing pain. Every evening at 9, I was tired, ready to close my eyes and sleep at 10, my head exhausting from working all day. Day 6 and 7 after working with my entire body, through the power of my head, I could barely walk. I felt a physical, bodily ache and soreness of my muscles as if I had ran a marathon. I couldn’t believe it.
We learn, on a physical level, that we can show reaction, quick, not thought through, reaction towards a sensation, anger, scratching, frustration, or we can watch it and wait for our reaction to become equanimous . And that is what got me hooked. The scientific aspect of this meditation. You literally do brain surgery. Or call it brain jogging.Training your brain on a physical level to sit through the pain, and sit through the joy, and accept reality AS IT IS, not as you wish it was, your brain will eventually be able to apply the same kills to the mind, the mental pain, the mental joy. The fight. The relationships. The sadness. The happiness.
I am truly grateful for having participated and I will return. At least as a volunteer, and certainly not only once. Being back to ‘real life’, trying to sit down like I did in Tepeyac, I notice how much harder it is. So much more chatter, music and mixed emotion in the back of my head. And I remember thoughts from the midst of the jungle.
‘Wow I am glad I am doing this here. In this fairly open space where I can lay in the grass, walk over it with my eyes closed, see the sunset every evening, watch monkeys while I eat my rice, listen to them while I meditate and be reminded of how we are not made for this, and, this too shall pass, because nothing stays the same. We are loving, communicating beings and we.will.return.to.this liveliness.’
Vipassana has been introduced to the entire globe by S.P. Goenka, who passed away 2013 and left the world with Vipassana centers all over. Read more about it and see if there is an option for a course nearby: dhamma.org
I pat myself on both my shoulders right now, congratulations Kris, you are now an old-student, you sat through 10 days of silence. I am so happy and grateful for this oftentimes painful and frustrating experience, that worked my brain and left me fascinated and appreciative to the world out there, the world we live every day.
It made me want to say to myself, it is late now, Kris. Go brush your teeth, close that laptop, finish the report another evening and sneak in 30 minutes of mindfulness. 30 minutes of meditation and possibly Vipassana sensation.
Please feel free to contact me for any further questions.
Much Love :)
For further readings I suggest
Steiner and his many works on the Science of Spirituality – how we can all only be truly spiritual if we keep our roots down in the ‘real world’
Podcasts and this beautiful Summary of Sam Harris‘ thoughts on meditation and the spiritual. Another down-to-science meditator who, as a neuro scientist, knows his bizz. https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/29/sam-harris-waking-up-meditation/
And beautiful guided meditations by Tara Brach. This is not the true Vipassana way, but at least an effort to remember those sweet and salty 10 days.
Free Products on the matter (ebooks, audios etc.)
And one of my favorite chants: