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I know my fellow ZEITGUIDERS; I said I wouldn’t distribute a newsletter until the end of my Summer Sabbatical. But I just had to share my recent experience doing a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation.
For several reasons:
1. Meditation is in the zeitgeist. Of course, you’ve been reading – and we’ve been reporting – on the mindfulness trend for the last 7 years, but the trend has evolved into extended silent meditation retreats. Even the Wall Street Journal had a piece on the trend of Silent Mediation experiences just 2 weeks ago.
2. Burnout is at an all-time high – and covered more than I’ve ever seen in the media. The World Health Organization just recently announced that they included it in “the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon;” and they are about to “embark on the development of evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace.”
3. It was such a unique experience for me and cleared my mind enough to realize that I need to refresh what my team and I are providing you as we are about to enter a new decade and a NEW cultural era.
4. It is part of my current strategy to develop ZEITGUIDE’S “2020 Vision.”
So what is Vipassana Meditation?
Vipassana means to “see things as they really are.” It was taught over 2500 years ago in India, and vanished until S.N. Goenka brought it back from Burma in the mid-1900s. Since then, 300 centers around the world teach the technique.
How is it different from other meditation practices?
Transcendental Meditation (aka TM), mindfulness, guided meditation, visualization, and others according to Goenka do indeed help, but only on a conscious level. Vipassana instead works on the unconscious level by helping you: experience the physical sensations throughout the body and how they connect to the mind; recognize cravings or aversions; and observe them all as “impermanent” instead of reacting to them. This allows you to get to the root of mental impurity and replace it with a balanced mind of love and compassion.
It’s recommended to practice Vipassana for 2 hours per day, where the others can be done in less time.
Why does it have to be 10 days long?
“Experience over generations has shown that if Vipassana is taught in periods of less than ten days, the student does not get a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique… and the mind won’t be able to settle down enough to work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon… Traditionally, Vipassana was taught in retreats lasting seven weeks.”
Do I recommend it?
It’s not for everyone. It’s challenging both physically (as you are sitting for 10 hours per day) and mentally. You can’t talk or even connect with anybody through eye contact. You also only get 2 vegetarian meals per day (I LOVED the Food, by the way), and a banana, orange or apple for dinner. You wake up at 4am every day and are down at 9pm.
Sound like torture. Well just look at me 🙂
However, if you want to honor your curiosity, challenge yourself with a mental marathon, or most of all, want to learn a meditation practice that can be with you for the rest of your life, DO IT.
It’s also FREE, supported via voluntary donations.
I hope I inspired you with some info that can provoke conversation or interest.
For more information: go here. You can find out about the locations near you. You can also watch Goenka’s Discourses on Youtube. We watched these videos of him teaching a lesson each day, as he is physically no longer with us.