10 Silent Days: My Vipassana Meditation Experience

One of the goals for my “Unplanned Year” was to attend a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course in the hopes that it would help me develop a regular meditation practice. Wow – did it ever give me more than that. It was without a doubt one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done, and I recommend it highly to absolutely anybody. It is such a gift.

There are Vipassana Meditation centers all over the world. Food and accommodations are provided and there is no fee – you simply leave a donation at the end, and/or volunteer at a future course. I went to the center in Joshua Tree/29 Palms. If you aren’t familiar, Joshua Tree is smack in the middle of the Colorado and Mojave deserts – and it is beyond beautiful. Sand, mountains, cacti, and expansive skies. Sunrises so beautiful you can’t help but laugh, sunsets so stunning you might even weep.

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I imagine everyone gets something different out of the experience so I don’t want to say too much in case you decide to go. The fact that I knew so little going in was really valuable. What I can tell you is that the program lasts for 10 days. You meditate 9-11 hours a day beginning at 4:30am and ending at 9pm. You learn a very specific meditation technique while you are there. 2 meals a day (and fruit in the evening) are provided. You have no access to the outside world (no phones/computers) and you aren’t allowed to talk to any of the other people until the last day of the course. I expected the food and the silence to be HUGE challenges for me (I usually eat 5 times a day and my husband claims while other people have an ‘internal monologue,’ mine is entirely ‘external). Surprisingly however, I actually enjoyed those aspects of the program. It was a relief not to have to talk about this experience with others while I was in the thick of it. (In other words, I would encourage you not to let those aspects be barriers to signing up.)

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The goal of Vipassana Meditation is to help people experience more happiness and less misery. The technique teaches you how to stay in the present moment (a concept I understood intellectually, but this course helped me learn it on a much deeper level). You learn how your body generates negative sensations physically and the impact this has on your thoughts. You learn that anything you experience, positive or negative, is the result of your mind’s habit patterns. You learn how to change these patterns and find stillness and peace inside yourself.
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Many choose to do the program more than once, as the benefits feel so overwhelmingly positive. I feel like it had an impact on me that will last long beyond the course – a physiological change in how reactive I am and a confidence in my own ability to generate a peaceful state of mind. If you have any questions at all and want to talk more about it, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much for reading!
 ❤ Kailea

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