Many of you know that I (Sarah) recently attended my first Vipassana – A 10 day silent meditation retreat. I have been asked by many to share some of my experiences during these 10 days.
I’ve used this explanation a few times so far… The most intensely amazing, emotional, crazy, painfully hard, beautiful, incredible, raw 10 days of my life, ever.
I’m not sure people quite understand the magnitude when I say that… It was pretty transformative.
I don’t know what very first attracted me to complete Vipassana. It’s been about a 4-5 year journey since I came across the idea of it; until the pull became too much. This was the exact moment in time I was meant to be there. Any earlier, I don’t believe I would’ve been ready. Any later I feel would’ve been too late.
It was never the challenge of not speaking that I thought would be tough. See, I’m kind of an introvert. The fact that I could be in a hall with approximately 70 other people and not feel the pressure to always be having conversation… Was actually blissful. A beautiful unspoken energy throughout the room.
Sure there were times when verbal communication would’ve been terribly helpful, almost necessary. Like the time I was peacefully eating my lunch by the waterfall and was swooped by a magpie. Or, maybe when I was next in line for the bathroom and having the toilet lock fail – revealing the poor woman currently using the cubicle – pants down around her ankles. I am sure she would’ve appreciated a laugh as well as some reassurance her ‘bits’ were not on display. Overall however, I found the silence quiet easy, very nourishing and comforting for the soul.
I started to become overly aware of conversation when I was younger – around 10 or 11. I went from a small group of friends to a larger more outgoing group. I was quite shy and content hanging back, observing, taking in conversation, thinking, contributing with what I felt were meaningful additions every once and a while. Then questions began; Why haven’t you said anything? What’s wrong? Are you ok? I didn’t really think anything was wrong… Until then.
Really I was just a dreamer, an over-thinker… I thought about a lot.
After conditioning myself that this was somewhat wrong, boring or insufficient, I began to feel fairly awkward in social situations. I either tried to avoid them or I would internally prepare myself, putting up a collected, calm, well put together facade when really I was a shaking anxious wreck inside. I found myself worrying about what I would say to make me come across more exciting. This was all before high school. This habit continued for years and I think that many people can possibly relate to that feeling.
My first Vipassana moment or realisation was that I have now come to love that part of myself.
I love that I don’t feel the need to always talk or speak mindlessly. I love that I listen thoughtfully. I take things in. I am considerate, and compassionate. I love that I can spend quality time with those I love and I love that those closest to me will understand without me speaking a word. We can say nothing and fill a space with joy.
All pieces coming together, I realise this is one of the things I love about my yoga practice. Although I’m in a room with a whole lot of other people quietly sharing the space and energy, there is no need to be heard, no need to be seen, this is my time to nourish and nurture myself and start to peel away layers and recognise what is no longer serving me. Each one of us finding space within our Sangha, our community, to be moving through our practice, and our ‘stuff’, with the support and presence of those around us.