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  • Writer's pictureJulie Stansfield

10 days of silence, 10 hours a day sitting in meditation….not my idea of fun, but definitely interes

It’s been a while between where have I been? Well, I guess below the radar...flexing, stretching, hiding, contracting, expanding. Just living and experiencing life. Some days with expectations, and others just going with the flow and allowing whatever to unfold. Which is right and which is wrong? Well, actually there is no judgment. How long has it taken me to get to the point of non-judgement? Today, to be honest.... it’s still a work in progress!

I wrote this the day before I began my 3rd 10 day Vipassana silent Meditation retreat.

And now, here I am back in “the real world” after 10 days living below the radar...flexing stretching hiding contracting expanding in silence - with no judgement or expectations?? Umm, still have to say that’s a work in progress!

Vipassana is a form of meditation as taught by Buddha. My thinking when I first sat for 10 days 5 years ago, was that this meditation technique obviously worked for him, maybe there’s hope for me to also develop equanimity in my life and peace of mind. I hoped it would help me cope with what life was throwing at me.

During my 200 hour teacher training it was recommended that we should attend a silent retreat some time in the future. 10 days leading a monastic-style of life, with no distractions other than my constant mind chatter peaked my curiosity. Meals are prepared by volunteer servers, so no worrying about what and when to eat. Being in silence and offline for 10 days didn’t seem too challenging, but calming and quieting the mind and sitting for a total of 10 hours a day were going to be more daunting. I decided I was up for the challenge....

Having just completed my 3rd sit, I am pleased I took up that initial challenge. Each sit has been different, stands to reason as life’s circumstances change. Each sit has been intense physically, mentally and’s supposed to be. And each sit has bought much needed clarity. Each sit has happened when I most needed to find clarity, so the experience is always worthwhile.

I do walk away with a sense of calm and a determination to hold onto that peacefulness. I’m wondering how long I will hold on this time! Dealing with life’s up and downs, trying not to react impulsively to all that triggers me is a constant struggle.

Hearing Goenka’s teachings again during his nightly discourses reiterates that our/my suffering is optional. What leads to our suffering, confusion and unhappiness is understanding that we react to all stimulation and experiences with either a sense of craving or aversion - we want what makes us feel good and avoid that which we fear or makes us uncomfortable. Watching, being aware, being present moment to moment to these reactions allows us to build resilience and respond in a measured way. This practice is one tool which can help us develop an equanimous mind - allowing all that is experienced to come and go without conditioned reactions. Sounds easy enough, huh?

Sitting everyday and feeling sensations come and go in the body (pleasant but also at times excruciating), illustrates the impermanence of everything. Everything changes. The pain will disappear….eventually. That tricky life situation will change or go away. And when we realise every thought creates an emotional reaction within the body, then we can become mindful of our thoughts, ultimately working towards purifying the mind.

Vipassana, the Art of Living a balanced and compassionate life - who doesn’t want that? So, when I return home in a few days I am determined to sit everyday to reclaim the stillness I tapped into on retreat, to gain clarity in my life, and not fight the law of nature but to go with the ebb and flow of the cosmic law and order.

I would recommend a Vipassana retreat to anyone who is struggling to find peace and fulfilment - it won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. If 10 days of silence sounds too extreme perhaps try a day-long yoga and meditation retreat at home - read about my experience in the Sept 2017 blog.

Next, I’m looking forward to putting the finishing touches to a 3 day Spring Cleanse Yoga Retreat at Medlands Beach in November and a Yoga and Hiking Retreat in the new year. Just living and experiencing life…..

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