Vipassana is an ancient form of Buddhist meditation from India. Vipassana means “to see things as they really are.” It is a process of self-observation and self-purification. The practice teaches how to remain aware and equanimous despite the ever-changing circumstances of life. As such, it can be a very beneficial tool for anyone living in the modern world, where we are constantly bombarded with information at an ever-increasing rate.
There are Vipassana centers all over the world, where you can get a free introduction to this meditation technique. Beginners are welcome, but you definitely need to make sure you know what you’re signing up for. It’s 10 days of absolute silence. Zero communication (including eye contact with any other participants) is allowed and you have to adhere to a strict schedule of early mornings, long meditation sits, and a strict diet of 3 vegetarian meals that they provide. You are not allowed to have any technology like cell phones or laptops, and you’re not even allowed to read books on your downtime. It’s a solid 10 days of being alone with yourself, and trust me it’s easier said than done!
I tried Vipassana at the center in Merrit, British Columbia, back in 2010. Over the course of 10 days my thoughts alternated between total gratitude for being there one moment, and complete dread that I was being inducted into some kind of cult the next. The experience is definitely extreme, and there will be times you wonder what strange cult you have wondered into. Even until the 8th day the urge to get the hell out of there was pretty strong. But day 9 and 10 were like swimming in an ocean of bliss. In fact, in the last group meditation in the meditation hall, someone stomach growled so loudly that it set a couple people off giggling. The whole room, including myself, was caught in deep deep meditation, and struggling to resist the urge to laugh. One by one more and more people burst into giggles and the meditation teacher had to give us a warning! It was probably the funniest moment of my life.
After 10 days of deep mediation, I walked out of there feeling light as a cloud. It was as if every piece of residual stress I’d accumulated over my whole life had been cleared away. Walking was easier; breathing was easier; smiling was easier. The whole experience was so intense and challenging, I didn’t think I would ever want to do it again. But here I am 4 years later and thinking it would be great to do another one soon. Some people only ever go for the 10 day sits, and then return to their regular life. Others take the technique and incorporate it as a daily practice, usually one hour per day. The Vipassana organization recommends against practicing both Reiki and Vipassana, and although I was skeptical about this stipulation at first, I realized there are probably very good reasons why they have this rule. So, I have stuck with my transcendental meditation practice, which I’ve been very happy with over the years, and allows me to continue delving deeper into my relationship with Reiki.
If you’re interested in trying Vipassana, check out their website and make sure to read all the information before signing up. It’s a really great technique, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
If you’ve had an experience with Vipassana meditation that you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment below!