Ten days of silent meditation. A “Vipassana” meditation up in the woods of Kelseyville, California. 4 a.m. wake up calls. No technology. No reading. No writing. No music. No prolonged eye contact.
Just you. You, yourself and your mind. Bootcamp for your soul.
Now I’d be lying if I said that it was all sunshine and roses. In fact it was grueling, sometimes feeling more like cruel and unusual punishment than anything else. It was painful and frustrating physically and mentally. My shoulders ached from sitting for over ten hours a day. I had Aaron Carter’s “Come Get It” stuck in my head for three days straight (that might have been even more irritating than the physical pain). My mind was flooded with random memories as I analyzed my fears, doubts and imperfections… And then I would analyze them again… And again. I was so desperate to shut off my mind after 23 years of continuous thought that I couldn’t stop thinking about quieting it down, defeating the purpose of meditation entirely. It felt like a vicious, never ending cycle. On Day 3, I seriously contemplated calling it quits. Then again on Day 7.
But try as we might, we can’t escape ourselves. And I knew that if I gave up on myself, the mental repercussions would be far worse… Plus they took my keys upon arrival so there was no escape anyways. It was time to truly understand the definition of “peace and quiet.”
And in the end the experience of it all was everything – some of my lowest lows but also my highest highs. I walked away with innumerable lessons learned concerning our responsibility to ourselves – observation, inner awareness, reaction, and how attachment to external forces (whether they be people or objects) can’t make us happy. And though it often felt like my mind was getting the best of me, I reached moments of serene peace and realizations that I will continue to honor now that life has returned to “normal”… though this can definitely be easier said than done at times.
Misery happens. Sorrow. Anger. Sadness. We cannot escape these feelings and life throws continuous curveballs – it is the ying to the yang. The light and the dark. We cannot have one without the other. And regardless of just how good or bad things may seem – it is always changing. Nothing is ever fixed – life is impermanent. Things are always shifting at every moment – within us and all around us. And this realization brings a mind that is pure and a love that is infinite. This truth sets you free.
And so now a new chapter begins… Did I completely transform during these ten days? In some ways yes, but not entirely. Am I now a meditating guru who can sit for hours on end in complete and utter stillness? Nope. Am I now exempt from sadness or rough times? Definitely not. But a deeper sense of awareness has taken shape within me – one that I will continue to work on and apply to my everyday life.
May we all find peace within ourselves. May we all thrive from the inside out.
“Loneliness is something to get intimate with, comfortable with, friendly with – not avoid. Then we walk on the path of gentle fearlessness.” – Waylon Lewis