20 Insights From My 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat
20 Insights From My 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat
Reading time: 11 minutes
The following collection of realizations and ideas are my personal evaluation of my recent experience at a 10-day Vipassana meditation center.
Solitude, journaling and walking in nature allowed these ideas to bubble up to the surface.
It’s hard to trace back to the exact moment when I decided to apply for this Vipassana meditation course but I felt that I needed some valuable introspection time.
My intuition and gut told me to just take the chance.
Take the plunge Daniel, just fucking do it.
I read some articles on other experiences; saw two of my mentors talk about how influential this period was for them.
I had been meditating consistently for two years now…
I mean how hard could it really be?
Late November 2015 I signed up for a course in February 2016, decided to finally take action and see where this experience takes me.
So what is Vipassana?
I mean there are hundreds of meditation techniques out there…
Visualization, transcendental meditation, pranayama, crazy dynamic meditations from Osho amongst many many others..
What makes Vipassana special?
What makes it different?
This is the same technique that the Buddha used 2500 years ago to reach his state of ‘enlightenment’ or complete liberation.
Vipassana teaches you to see things as they really are. Not the way you want them to be.
It is not a religion or faith.
The claim: this technique purifies the mind, frees you from suffering all through self-observation.
Believe in that reality or not… it doesn’t matter much.
It’s been around for quite some time so maybe that’s what makes it special.
Who fucking knows?
Upon arriving at the meditation center, I seriously had no idea what I was getting into.
Ten days of silence. No verbal or nonverbal communication.
4:00am – 9:30pm schedule..
Extreme meditation boot camp?
Fuck it dude.
‘You’re a personal development master, you know all this information, you have clients who have experienced tremendous results, products that contain incredible value. You have an entire wolf pack of dedicated individuals growing and living boldly. This should be easy.’
I fistbumped my ego, which made me feel quite good and slowly woke up the following day at 4:00am to a loud gong right outside my room.
I could separate my experience into five parts on foresight..
Difficulty: Easy /’Ten days will be simple, I got this’
Difficulty: Moderate /’I could leave right now’
Difficulty: Extreme /’I could leave to leave’
Difficulty: Delusional /’My brain is like a vegetable’
Difficulty: Extreme /’Almost there.. Almost there.. Almost there.. Almost there..’
Day 10 (noble silence is lifted mid day)
Difficulty: Moderate / ‘Just make it to mid-day..’
There were periods of extreme suffering, mental exhaustion, and delusion.
There were periods of self-belief, determination and faith in myself.
I got the whole range of emotions.
At the end of the day I knew it’s just not a reality for me to give up on this.
I’m not leaving this unfinished.
I’m not quitting.
The following 20 wisdom bombs are a collection from the nightly discourses by S.N. Goenka, my own realizations and numerous journaling exercises that I conducted despite being (forbidden). Sue me.
Wisdom Bomb #1
There are three types of wisdom in this world.
1) Wisdom gained by listening to others (like reading this article, investing in programs, coaches, books and information in general).
2) Wisdom gained through intellectual/analytical understanding. It can be connected to the wisdom of listening to others. You learn something new, you actually take time to THINK about this information and question it’s validity.
3) Wisdom gained through direct personal experience. You experienced the realization yourself. It’s the highest level of wisdom. It’s the truth. You might know that touching the hot coal will burn you but no lesson is greater than touching it yourself and experiencing the burn.
Use this wisdom bomb to find knowledge that you ‘know’ and find ways on how to actually take physical action and experience the truth in your own reality.
Wisdom Bomb #2
Walk in nature.
There was a walking path deep into nature at the center I was at. I walked it over 100 times during the ten days and every single time I noticed something new.
There is so much beauty surrounding us, at times I would just stop and stare at trees, birds flying and the universal law of nature work it’s magic in front of me.
Use this wisdom bomb as often as you can for concentrated thinking and add it to your creative process.
Wisdom Bomb #3
Timeless wisdom. I could write for days on the importance of mastering your mind, but not here.
By day 6-7 I had more control over my mental thoughts than I ever had before. I would walk for thirty minutes thinking about a single topic. This was impossible for me before without getting distracted.
Having the ability to be in silence for a period of time or sitting completely still for a while are indicators if you are a slave to your mind or in control of your reality as a creator.
Use this wisdom bomb and test it out for yourself, can you sit still for 5 minutes? Can you think about a single question for long periods of a time? If you cannot, there is a good chance that you are not in control of your life.
Wisdom Bomb #4
Once the ‘noble silence’ is lifted you are allowed to talk.
It’s fucking weird to talk, silence is just so normal by that point.
They allow you to talk on this day as a kind of ‘shock absorbing’ as you slowly return to the rest of society.
In the cafeteria after the initial shock dissolved the next thing you know there was 6-8 of the guys that I had walked by without addressing hundreds of times beforehand now sharing experiences and masterminding.
We continued talking and sharing about personal development, biology, neurology, metaphysics, spiritual psychology and numerous other topics.
We talked until 1:00am the next morning after realizing that we still have to wake up at 4:00am for our last meditation. Until this day the discoveries we talked about and being around a group of like-minded individuals still holds weight for me.
Use this wisdom bomb and find someone with a wealth of knowledge in ANYTHING. Take him or her to lunch, inspire each other and share. Check out this video I recorded exactly about this subject.
Wisdom Bomb #5
Be quick but don’t hurry
99% of people are in rush, reacting to outside stimuli.
There is a difference between moving fast and being quick (in control, present) vs. rushing and hurrying to get everywhere (reacting, unaware).
This concerns every part of your life, and was ever prevalent in the meditation hall.
You are sitting without moving for hour periods at a time in complete stillness. You become in touch with your body. Burping, stomach rumblings, different sensations all appear depending on the food you eat.
I experienced this first hand and realized that you literally ARE WHAT YOU EAT. I knew this on an intellectual level however I directly realized the amount of energy my body uses to produce and process what I bring into my temple.
Use this wisdom bomb and eat slowly, eat less (1/4th less) and start feeling what food does for your mind and body. Never react to your outside and be quick if you want however don’t hurry around aimlessly.
Wisdom bomb #6
Sunsets and sunrises
Dude. They are beautiful. Nature is unbelievable. Just look at the clouds, they are in complete disarray and full of chaos yet exactly how they are supposed to be at that moment. Perfect.
I know I sound like a complete hippie but start looking for beauty in nature as it just proves that there is beauty within you.
Use this wisdom bomb and watch the next sunset and sunrise, notate the different colors and compare them to the previous/next day.
Wisdom bomb #7
Bold Wolves is huge on working on yourself at a core, root level. That means looking at your misery, happiness, emotions and being cool with it all.
This Vipassana course was explained as being an open surgery for 9 days.
Lots of pus will come out and that will only help the healing and growing part of your life.
Letting old emotions and anger bubble up to the surface and letting it go is just so key to living well. It’s time to cut the anchor off and set sail!
Use this wisdom bomb and start/continue to work on yourself on a deep, core level by letting emotions bubble up after your morning meditation. Be cool with what comes up; bring awareness to it than send love. Powerful.
Wisdom Bomb #8
“Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the TOTAL OPENNESS OF THE LIVING MOMENT. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.” – Bruce Lee
When you are not present you are thinking of the past/future and those thoughts are either pleasant or unpleasant. Enjoy right now, as corny as it sounds.
Use this wisdom bomb and try living and enjoying this moment. This does not mean ‘YOLO’. Live life. Enjoy. Experience fully and spontaneously.
Wisdom Bomb #9
Bound to be successful
Again and again, again and again…
Seriously he repeated this shit non-stop.
This one mantra that is so simple and profound…
‘Work diligently, patiently and persistently…patiently and persistently and you are bound to be successful. Bound to be successful.”
He follows up this wisdom with ‘continuity of practice is the secret of success’.
Use these two wisdom bomb mantras as a reminder to continue working diligently, patiently and persistently and you are bound to be successful in whatever endeavor you set out to achieve.
Wisdom Bomb #10
Our mind is pretty fucked up dude.
Most people just react to outside stimuli constantly. We crave more pleasant experiences and start to hate all the misery.
It just does not make sense if you truly want true happiness.
Misery will be here for the rest of our life. Accept that fact by itself.
The actual meaning of ‘Vipassana’ is to see things as they really are.
Radically accept this exact moment. *Don’t fight with reality (you will lose).
Use this wisdom bomb to practice accepting the reality of your ‘now’ as it is and NOT how you want it to be. Observe.
Wisdom Bomb #11
My favorite word right now…
‘Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.’
The Vipassana technique teaches you remain equanimous with whatever sensation you are experiencing on a moment-to-moment basis.
You accept the reality of the situation and keep it cool calm and collected. Your state does not get affected by outside influences.
Use this wisdom bomb next time you are elated with positivity or extremely sad with a current moment. Observe your emotions objectively and with equanimity.
Observe. Observe. Observe. Observe. No more reactivity to outside stimuli! OBSERVE!
Wisdom Bomb #12
No matter how the sun is covered by clouds, it will always be there.
There is always hope, there is always a light, there is always a path to becoming a better version of yourself no matter how bad your status quo is.
Use this wisdom bomb to start/continue your journey to becoming your best self NOW. The best time already past however the second best time is right now. Improve, grow, give and love.
Wisdom Bomb #13
3 types of action
There are three types of actions contrary to popular belief.
Physical, vocal and mental action…
Which is the most important?
It’s mental. Every physical or vocal type of action all started with a thought. The seed gets planted in your brain and then grows into reality in the outer world.
Use this wisdom bomb to understand and erase all negative thoughts from your mind, focus on self-mastery and observing your state instead of reacting.
Wisdom Bomb #14
We all are addicted to something. Different levels of addictions however our desire for something has become into a need.
The reality is that you are not addicted to alcohol, TV, any negative (insert your vice here)…
You are addicted to the feeling… the sensation.
Use this wisdom bomb to observe the feeling, craving and sensation on a deep level rather than use your go-to vice. Observe the feeling; do not fall for your typical habit pattern.
Wisdom Bomb #15
‘I had such a great day today’
‘It’s just been a bad week so far…’
‘I had a really energized morning’
‘What a terrible night’
There are so many factors in your emotional, physical state however on a macro scale you have to understand this reality.
You will experience wins and loses.
There will be times in your life that are ‘storms’ where you seem to fail everywhere you go. Understand that this is part of the law of nature. There are seasons, there is misery and there is happiness.
Use this wisdom bomb to accept the reality of your moment with equanimity. Both the storms and the perfect weather will pass and so will your failures and successes.
Wisdom Bomb #16
Four types of people
According to the Buddha there are four types of people.
Person A – Dark to dark
Person B – Light to dark
Person C – Dark to light
Person D – Light to light
You must choose to become either person C/D. Head towards the light. Surround yourself with self-actualizing people that are growing spiritually, physically and mentally.
Use this wisdom bomb to recognize which one you are and continue dominating your path.
Wisdom Bomb #17
Habit pattern of your mind
We are all just a bunch of habits. It’s crazy.
I noticed this directly at the retreat.
People would sit in the same seat every time; use the same urinal, walking path, shower and everything you can name.
I’m not saying habits are bad as I agree with Brian Tracy’s view on successful people are just people with successful habits.
You cannot just live in this same original, no adventure type lifestyle. Change your regular habits! Step out of your comfort zone.
Use this wisdom bomb and recognize areas where you have just been going through the motions. Not present and very boring. Start by taking another route home, sitting in a different chair and ordering something crazy at the restaurants. Change the habit pattern of your mind.
Wisdom Bomb #18
Correct type of motivation
Goenka tells a story on how he had to summon a doctor because a member of his family was very sick. Since at the time he could afford it he knew that he wanted to pay the best doctor in the region.
That doctor was always busy. Lines down the street almost every day.
However he decided he would visit regardless because he wanted to reach the best person to heal his family member.
Upon arriving to the doctor’s office he was shocked when he saw there was no line!
Walking into the door he saw the doctor lying on the floor crying.
Goenka: ‘What’s wrong! What happen to you?’
Doctor: ‘Business has been so bad… no one is sick this season’
Goenka: ‘Isn’t that a good thing having no one sick?’
Doctor: ‘Not for me, I want more sick people as that is how I can make more money’
Understand the importance of having the correct type of motivation. The doctor was using his practice to make money, not to help people.
Use this wisdom bomb and reflect if your business or lifestyle decisions are for selfish greed or for the good of everyone.
Wisdom Bomb #19
There is so much wisdom out there. I’ve fallen prey to constantly looking for new information as if it’s crack.
My love of learning is a definite strength if used correctly however I realized I had to stop spreading myself thin.
No more half assing shit.
Goenka illustrates an example of how if you are riding a beautiful black horse in your village and someone comes over and says
‘Your horse is so awesome and mine is also great…would you like to try?’
‘Sure. I will try your horse but I will not leave mine. I will have one foot on yours and one foot on my horse.’
You can probably tell how this story would end for the guy.
Use this wisdom bomb if you are willing to experience something (new meditation retreat) and just go all in. Give it a fair trial before you make your final decision on your course of action.
Wisdom Bomb #20
‘Save the best for last did you Daniel… I see what you did there…’
Well I’m sorry but if you made it to this point of the article I have to show you just how essential this is.
The number one law of nature (universal law of the world) is change. Everything is just changing, growing and decaying on a macro and especially micro level. Trillions of micro changes are happening every second that you cannot even realize.
The law of impermanence, it is easy to understand on an intellectual level.
‘Of course Daniel, everything is constantly changing that’s not new…’
The Vipassana technique without going into too much detail tells you to observe your bodily sensations. You realize how everything that comes up eventually leaves no matter how painful or itchy or frustrating it is. You experience the change at such a root level that it is unreal.
In your worse times and in your best times remind yourself that this will pass eventually. It always does. Do not attach any additional stress, misery to this law of nature.
Use this wisdom bomb to stop all of your good/bad interpretations and transcend it to just accepting the reality of the moment. Observe it with equanimity. Observe it the way it is and not the way you want it to be.
All in all it was quite the experience.
These were twenty realizations/reminders that I thought were very influential and wanted to share with you all.
There was a TON of deeper, core level stuff that I learned as well that I will be discussing in the near future.
I could see myself going there a year from now for some period of solitude.
In the mean I look forward to continue creating, growing and inspiring Bold Wolves into the indestructible force it is bound to become.
See you soon champ,
Join the wolf pack
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