Ten Day Silent Meditation Retreat


southern california vipassana center

Southern California Vipassana Center by bunnicula, on Flickr

Earlier this month I digitally detoxed. I was off the grid for almost 2 weeks at a silent meditation retreat.

I have been practicing Mindfulness Meditation since 2007. I was introduced to Mindfulness at Claremont Graduate University when I enrolled in The Practice of Self-Management taught by Jeremy Hunter. It was an evening class and the morning of my 1st class a man crashed his car head on into my car. I was very lucky because my airbags worked as expected and my car was super safe. I only had whiplash and a few burns from the airbags deploying. I was able to make it to my 1st Practice of Self-Management class because of my carpool buddies. The timing of the class was serendipitous.

My physical therapist noticed the positive effects the meditation had on my physical therapy.  He was astounded by my progress and I was able to end physical therapy earlier than expected. The meditation came at exactly the right time, so I decided to stick with Mindfulness.

In early 2008 I went through some stressful events (unrelated to my car accident). The meditation practice helped me to get through those tough times. Once things settled down I spent a weekend at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido. It was a mini digital detox. The meditation retreat was like a reboot.

A few of my friends have attended the Ten Day Silent Meditation Retreat through the California Vipassana Center. The Meditation Retreat has had a profound impact on each of their lives.

Last year I decided to attend and I submitted my application for the Ten Day Silent Meditation Retreat. I was accepted and put on a wait list. A few weeks prior to the Meditation Retreat in October 2013 I took myself off the wait list. Somehow I was able to complete a marathon with no problem and going on a meditation retreat paralyzed me. I was finally ready this year and spent the early part of June at the Southern California Vipassana Center in Twentynine Palms.

On check-in day we turned in our cell phones, it was the beginning of releasing and letting go. The men and women were in separate parts of the center and dined and meditated in the same building but separately. During our 1st evening discussion we took our vow of silence. Silence became the social norm, and  the woman who had said she was not sure if she would be able to stop talking for 10 days made it through the ten days.

We meditated most of the day and our day started at 4:30am. We meditated from 4:30am to 6:30am. We had group meditations all throughout the day. Our days were spent meditating and the rest of the time we were eating, resting, or sleeping.

Our breakfast, lunch and dinner was 100% vegetarian. Dinner consisted of fruit and tea, so lunch was our main meal. I happen to attend a session that was half Cambodian; so our meals were Cambodian and amazingly delicious.

It was a lot like being at camp only dealing with intense stuff. The first few days I was crying intensely during meditation. Days 2 to 4 I cried and felt as if everything was falling apart and would never end. Midway through the retreat I was at dinner letting my thoughts get the best of me. I was doubting and over thinking and was trying to decide if I should leave the retreat. I got up to wash my cup and dish and dropped my cup. The sound of it shattering on the floor was piercing. Just as quickly as my doubts crept up my doubts disappeared.

By Day 5 crying just happened I no longer felt like I was falling apart but releasing. Releasing things I was cognizant of and releasing things I had completely forgotten about. By the final days I was ready to just release whatever needed to be released and everything felt lighter. It was extremely cathartic. I heard many others crying too.

One of my favorite pass times during the Meditation Retreat was the walking meditation. I did this after breakfast or lunch, not everyone walked but I felt it made an impact in my meditation. Depending on the day I would see lizards, rabbits, and/or birds. I also saw snakes, bats, quail, hummingbirds, insects and more roaming around the Center. Every night after our final group meditation I would walk back to my room and gaze at the gazillion stars and the moon.

Even without speaking your connection to others at the Center is intense. An amazing group of people with beautiful souls and very inspirational.

The reboot is exactly what I needed.

walking path meditation

Southern California Vipassana Center Walking Path by bunnicula, on Flickr





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