Vipassana – powerful meditation technique I talked about in last weeks post. If you missed it, find out more about it here! In this post, I want to look back on my experiences and reflect on what changed after the 10 days of my Vipassana mediation were over. I am going to go back to the questions I was thinking about as well as my experiences and personal practise.
How to practise at home?
On the 10th day, the last day of our Vipassana course when noble silence was about to be broken, we were taught how we should keep on practising to keep on benefitting from our mediation. We were listening to the founder of Vipassana, S.N Goenka, again who told us we should meditate twice a day when leaving the course and returning to our life back home. Two times a day for an hour each – one in the morning and one in the evening. Every day. For the rest of our lives. He told us we have to maintain practising eagerly for one year. After one year, we would have formed a habit which we would keep until the end of our days. At first, this amount of time might seem a lot. However, he, of course, explained why these two hours were necessary. Less practise means less benefits. So, missing the daily sitting is not an option. When you meditate, you also get more energy and you are way more focused on your work and are even more productive than before. So, two hours per day might sound much. But in reality it is not. It will most likely even give you more time for yourself as you are more focused and get things done way quicker than before.
The end of the course
For me, the Vipassana was over when the noble silence was broken. Officially we still had half a day of the course, but the spirit of these classes was different. As we hadn´t been able to talk for 10 days the announcement of being able to do so again was something very special. Suddenly, I could express myself again. Suddenly, I could talk to the others I just had been able to watch the days before.
I remember exactly how I reacted once we were told the noble silence was over. We were sitting in our meditation hall and were only allowed to start talking again when moving away from it. So, everybody slowly started to walk outside, I felt completely different. I was sad in a way as the end of the course was coming closer rapidly and I somehow wasn´t prepared for that. I was still caught up in my own world, so many thoughts still in my head – and suddenly all of that was over. We were about to go back to normal life.
So, I walked out of the hall, consciously right behind an Italian girl I had been talking to right before my course had started. I wanted her to be the first person to talk to again. Being near her felt familiar. At least she was not a complete stranger anymore. We walked next to each other in silence for a bit, then she started laughing. She couldn´t believe it was over and neither could I. I started crying and laughing at the same time, an outburst of emotion. Everything we just experienced in these 10 days came out at once. I wanted to hug her so badly, but we weren´t allowed to have any physical contact. Not until the 10 days were fully over. Still, we were able to share our thoughts and experiences and continued to do so until the next mediation class. Time was passing insanely rapid again as we were talking, exchanging, sharing.
After the noble silence was broken I realized how hard it could be to focus in the next mediation course. As I had just been exchanging experiences with the others, all their words and thoughts were still in my head, circling and spinning around. I was not packed in my little quiet space anymore. Which made focusing much harder. However, this was about to be the case every day from now on. We better got used to it already.
Leaving the course
After I left the course, me and the Italian girl staid in the same hostel for a few days. She wanted to explore the city of Bodhgaya further, I had to wait for my bus to Kathmandu. Right after we left Vipassana both of us were eager to meditate every morning and evening, two hours every day. We were determined not to miss a single sitting. We even looked out for special places to meditate in nature like a huge, old Banyan tree, a cave or a temple.
Goenkas words of the importance of daily practise were still in my head. I knew that if we wanted the meditation to positively impact our lives, we had to keep practising daily. As you have to do with any skill. Only regular practise will lead to process. And I kept on practising daily for as long as I stayed in India. Practising was not that hard. I was travelling, I had no obligations, I was only out of the course for a few weeks.
However, once I came home, fell back into my routine, university and work life, the whole situation changed quite quickly. I still meditate every day. That is something I would never want to miss. But the time I am investing in it is getting less. Right now, I am meditating around 30 to 60 minutes a day. I know I have gotten lazy and I also know living a busy life is not an excuse. I am aware that 2 times per day are possible. With the right determination. However, I decided not to be too hard on myself. What could would it do to stress about it and feel bad about myself. I am content with the fact that I am trying my best every day. If it works out, that´s good. If it doesn´t, it still won´t be the end of the world.
A one-day course
Recently, I decided to engage in a one-day Vipassana course to deepen my practise again. After having done it I can definitely say I am more than glad I did it. Granted, one day will not leave such a massive effect as a ten days course – but I rediscovered some beautiful aspects of Vipassana I had already forgotten.
A really important aspect of the Vipassana meditation is that you meditate to work at the rout level of your mind. That is why this technique is so powerful. It teaches you how not to be attached to anything – neither good nor bad things. How to remain in perfect equanimity. The technique of Vipassana teaches you to sit in a comfortable meditation position and to scan your body from head to feet. While you scan your body, you will feel certain sensations. These sensations can be anything – and they can also appear in the form of Sankharas.
A Sankhara is a negative emotion, stored in our body from. It can be an emotion from a fight a while ago, it can be a recent one. Once you meditate it can surface and appear as an unpleasant sensation. However, if you do remain equanimous the whole time, the Sankhara will disappear sooner or later, and then will be eradicated. We all are carrying a big stock of Sankharas, of negative emotions within us. Therefor it is so important to meditate two times a day, to eradicate these Sankharas and to prevent ourselves from creating new ones.
Another method used in Vipassana is the Metta meditation. I somehow even had forgotten about this wonderful technique and therefore couldn´t include it in my daily practise. Practising the Metta meditation, you generate love, compassion, goodwill and happiness towards other beings. Which is the goal of Vipassana. To generate nothing but love even if someone is not giving you love back in return. During a metta session, you repeat positive words like love, peace and harmony in your mind. Then you generate these feeling towards all beings. Human or not, to all beings. I always found the Metta really powerful. It gives you so much strength, positivity and love you can then spread and share. It will merely leave you with good thoughts and good feelings towards yourself and everyone else
I can say, after the one-day course I still have a lot to learn. It made me realise that I would need a lot of practise and dedication to reach my goals within this area. However, a one-day course can help you get back on track, strengthen your practise and motivation. Which is important after a while. We all have responsibilities and need to earn a living. Within all these struggles, one can easily miss some daily sittings. One can get lazy, one can forget about the benefits. I, as I said before, had even forgotten about Metta! Now I am just wondering how on earth this could happen.
The Vipassana meditation is a powerful tool that definitely can change your life for the better. If you keep on practising, if you keep on trying you will soon feel the effects. Vipassana will help you to spread only love and positivity around the world. That´s why it´s important to keep trying, do some courses, get your motivation back again. Anyone can feel unmotivated once. But if you think back about the benefits the technique gives you, you will soon realise how important daily practise is.