My 10 Days Vipassana Silent Meditation ExperienceMar 08, 2023
We live in a world that seems to urge us to continually respond and react, especially with the constant beckoning of the Internet. But what if you can just let things be? In this special episode, Yanet Borrego takes the hot seat as she gets interviewed by her friend and fellow coach, Nikki Rineholt. Coming from her 10-day silent meditation Vipassana Course, Yanet shares her experience of learning how to see and observe things as they are without reacting. This is the Vipassana meditation technique. It is about reprogramming your mind to be more honed, focused, and purified from all the suffering that we experience every single day. Find out how Yanet found herself after the course. Was it what she expected it to be or even better? What are her realizations? Join her in this conversation to find out!
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My 10 Days Vipassana Silent Meditation Experience
Welcome to another episode. We are going to do something different. I came back from my ten-day silent meditation Vipassana Course. I was planning to do an episode about my experience after because I had done an episode about my experience before Vipassana and the expectations I had. This is after I have gone through the ten days.
I was planning to do a solo episode, but honestly, I thought to myself, "It would have been so much more fun to bring someone that I love and that knows me to interview me." I invited my friend, Nikki. She has been in the show twice already. This is the third time. Nikki, thank you so much. She will be interviewing me about the whole experience. I cannot wait to share it with all of you. Thank you so much, Nikki, for being here.
I am honored that you chose me. I'm so excited to hear all about it.
I love it. Nikki and I talked. I was like, "Don't ask me anything about the experience. We cannot talk about it before the episode." Thank you so much for holding back your curiosity too.
It has been hard because I've been wanting to know as everyone wants to know.
Let's do it, my friend. What questions do you have?
Let's start with the first one because I barely know myself. What is Vipassana?
Vipassana means to see and observe things as they are without reacting. It's a whole meditation technique. In this ten-day course that I went to, they teach you the whole meditation technique and give you one step every single day. By day nine, you have the whole technique because you have been building onto it in terms of practicing and experiencing each step.
It's a meditation technique where you see things as they are without reacting. You're reprogramming your mind to be more honed, focused, and purified from all the suffering that we experience every single day. That is in a nutshell what Vipassana is. The teachings came from Buddha. This is not tied to any religion, sect, or anything like that. It's a universal technique that anyone can use, but it does come from Buddha's teachings.
That's awesome. I'm sure other people are curious. I am as well. How did you hear about it?
I mentioned this in the other episode. Years ago, I was getting my hair cut by the person I was working with. He was telling me about this amazing silent meditation experience he had gone through. He told me that it was free. I was like, "For ten days, they give you food and where to stay. They teach you meditation. It's free. That doesn't make much sense." Since then, I became so excited about experiencing that because he said that it completely changed his life. As years went through, I was thinking about doing it.
I told my ex-boyfriend who was my boyfriend at the time. He was like, "You are taking ten days from work, which is the only vacation you have to sit in silence, meditating. That's crazy." I let myself be influenced by his opinion, and I didn't do it back then. Cody and I tried signing up. He went through the sign-up, so he was accepted. When I was going to sign up, they were waitlisted already because these retreats are so popular. These are international. Many famous people have done it too because it's free. It gets filled up super quickly. I decided not to do it. On the day of my birthday, they were opening up a course. At 6:00 AM, I was there ready to go. I finally got in. That's how I knew about it. That's what happened.
That's so exciting. You mentioned the cost was free. How does that work? How did they even offer this for free? That's crazy.
The teacher that started this movement, not Vipassana because Vipassana comes from Buddha, started the movement of creating meditation centers. He was from India, originally from Dhamma, which is Malaysia if I remember well. He's originally from Malaysia, the place where this technique was born. He learned the whole technique because he was a super successful businessman. He was wealthy. He had this headache that wouldn't go away. He was suffering hard because of these migraines. He had the money to consult with every doctor around the world.
He went to London, Spain, and everywhere. No one could figure out what the root cause of the migraines was. Someone recommended in his region or his place of birth to try Vipassana. He was like, "Are you serious? Ten days of meditating to cure this?" He was so desperate that he was going to give it a try. When he gave it a try, he fell in love with the technique. His migraines disappeared. He was completely healed from the inside out.
With the money he had, because he was a wealthy man, he started creating these courses for free. In the beginning, they weren't for free, but as he continued learning about the technique and the teachings, he was like, "I want this to be a charitable experience. The nuns and monks don't have any money. They rely on other people to get food and everything. I want people to have that experience. They come for free and experience all of this based on the charity of others."
The retreats operate for free because there are people that donate after the retreat. They don't accept donations if you leave before the ten days, which is a high-integrity thing. It's amazing because they want you to experience the whole technique and receive the benefits for you to donate because if not, what are you donating to? It doesn't make any sense.
It started with one center. There are centers everywhere around the world. It's operated by volunteers. All of this is volunteers. Volunteers are cooking every single day, helping with registration, and donating. All of the benefits you receive are because of the charity of others. Even after the course finished, I clean my room. Every person has to clean their room for the person that comes after. I help clean the Dhamma hall. All of this is because of everyone that goes into the retreat. That's how it operates. It's decentralized, but it is also a nonprofit. They do have the organization set as a nonprofit internationally.
You heard about it years ago and were swayed not to do it. You and Cody were interested in doing it. Why specifically do this now instead of another time?
For me, now was the right time because I've been wanting to do it for a while, but I've experienced so many losses in these last few years. Honestly, my immediate family, except for my mom, has passed away. The only family I have left, we are not even close. It was a big impact on me, and it still is. I knew that there was some grief that I needed to process more of because ten days is not enough. Ten days sounds like a lot, but it's nothing compared to the years of our lives. I also had a miscarriage. I transitioned from corporate to entrepreneurship.
Ten days sounds like a lot, but it's nothing compared to the years of our lives.
Honestly, even before I went to the Vipassana retreat, I was feeling a little bit burned out because I had been working nonstop. When you have a business for the first few years, let's be honest, it's a lot of hard work. I thought now was going to be an excellent moment before I have kids for me to continue gaining clarity, healing, and transforming, and also to lead by integrity because I'm a coach. I work with my clients and emphasize my clients investing in themselves and prioritizing themselves.
I need to lead by example. I also need to take that time to invest in myself and find myself so I can guide others to do the same. I'm extremely grateful because I have a husband that is very supportive. Thankfully, we are independent beings. We do a lot of things together. At the same time, we can go our separate ways and enjoy our individual experiences. My mom is super supportive. All my clients are supportive. I appreciate the support that I had when I made this decision.
That's awesome. I love it. You are very independent. You mentioned that it fills up quickly. How many people attend? What's the cap? What's the cutoff?
These retreats are very popular. Everyone knows about it. The waitlist fills up within one hour of the registration opening up. It fills up quickly. People dropped later on and all those logistical components. They usually have groups of as little as 20 at times even though my group wasn't 20, but it's from 20 to more than 100 people. In my group, we were around 65 or a little bit more. In the next group that was going to start the next week, there were 100 people. It depends on the season and the time, but the cap is a little bit over 100.
There were people in my group. You get to talk in the last few hours of day ten. That's how I know because they're silent purely every single day. There were people that had come from New York and Wisconsin because the centers in their locations had waitlists for months. They found this one in Texas, which apparently doesn't fill up that quickly, and came here. It was exciting to meet people from different states too there.
That's amazing. They teach you each day. They add to the meditation technique. What does the schedule look like every day? Do you do the same things every day besides learning the new technique that's added on? What is the daily breakdown to be like?
The schedule is the same every single day. At 4:00 AM, they have this gong that they hit. You hear the sound naturally. You don't need an alarm. What I didn't mention yet is that males and females are separated because the whole purpose of the ten-day silent meditation course is to create a sense of isolation. There are many rules that you follow for you to not distract yourself. You don't look at people's eyes. You don't communicate with people in any way. You don't talk to people. You don't read. You don't write. There are so many things.
There is a dorm for the females and the males. We don't see them until we meditate as a group. We are seated separately. I say this because there is this L-shaped dorm with 50 rooms. Everyone is staying there in the same building or structure. At 4:00 AM, they start hitting the gong. They go around the L-shaped structure or building and then come back. At 4:20, they ring the gong again. At 4:30, you are supposed to start meditating. From 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM, you meditate. They give you the opportunity to meditate in your room or the Dhamma hall. The Dhamma hall is a huge room where everyone meditates together as a group.
You can meditate in your room or the Dhamma hall from 4:30 to 6:30. 6:30 to 8:00 is breakfast. 8:00 to 9:00 is group meditation. Everyone gets to meditate together. 9:00 to 11:00 is meditation again in your dorm or the Dhamma hall. Sometimes they give you instructions to stay in the Dhamma hall. It depends on the teacher's instructions. From 11:00 to 12:00, you have lunch. From 12:00 to 1:00, if you have any questions, you can talk to the teacher. You sign up with your name, and then you get to ask any questions about the technique or the discourse. There was a daily discourse from the teacher.
From 1:00 to 5:00 PM, we meditate. 5:00 to 6:00, we take a tea break. The other thing is we don't eat anymore after lunch. The only thing you can eat at 5:00 PM is tea and fruit. That's it. There is no dinner. It's just a tea break. From 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, we meditate and listen to the teacher's discourse, which is one hour every single day. That's the schedule that you follow. It's ten hours of meditation at least every single day. By the tenth day, you have meditated for over 100 hours. You're meditating silently. There's sitting meditation. You're meditating the same way. There is no walking meditation. There is nothing. It's practicing the technique.
You mentioned that they gave you every day a little more of the technique or a piece of it. It doesn't sound like there's any guidance on meditation. They just give you the technique to do and teach you how to do it, and then you're on your own.
There is no guided meditation. A lot of people have been asking me that. The whole purpose of the technique is for you to be in isolation with your input. Guided meditation is someone else's input. Reading a book is someone else's input. Even though I like guided meditation, I've always been a fan of silent meditation because that's the only time I get to connect with my input and face those emotions that sometimes we don't want to face. That's why we need someone else's input for us to be able to meditate. It's another distraction at the end of the day.
Even a mantra can be a distraction because it's a word outside of you that you're focusing on because the mind needs something to focus on. That's why mantras also exist. They can be very effective for your mind to focus. The Vipassana technique starts by observing your breath. The breath is something inside of you. It's something that is with you. It's something universal. There is no language related to the breath. It's the same. Language, religion, sect, or whatever you're from doesn't matter.
In the first three days, you focus on your breath and a small area of the face because what you're trying to feel is your mind focused on this area beneath the nostrils. It's a small area. You can start honing into the focus of your mind. By day four, then the Vipassana technique starts to get introduced step by step. The whole technique is focused on you observing and getting in touch with the sensations in your body because here's the thing. The mind and body are interconnected, and the soul too.
Even before there is a negative emotion, a limiting belief, or anything, you feel the sensation in your body even if you are aware of it or not. There is always a sensation in your body. The whole technique in a very simplified way is to start observing the sensations in your body without reacting. There is a pain in my back. There's no reacting, just observing, "It hurts. I don't want to feel it. I don't want back pain. I'm going to meditate again." That's reacting. It is more observing in a calm and centered way.
The more you observe and follow the technique, the deeper you start accessing your subconscious mind to reprogram your mind to simply be in the present versus reacting all the time. Buddha and Vipassana teach that there are three causes for unhappiness and suffering. It's craving, aversion, and ignorance. Craving is, "I like a sensation, a person, and a result. Give more of that." You get so attached to the outcome that you start suffering because you're not in the present anymore. Aversion is, "I have back pain. I don't like it. I don't like that person, that job, or that opportunity."
The more aversion you feel, the more you obsess around it and the more you start noticing the same thing, which you didn't like in the first place. Ignorance, which is the third one, is a lack of awareness of this tool. It's a lack of awareness that during our lives, we are cycling from craving and aversion, "I like this. I don't like this." That's the cause of suffering because craving and aversion are reactionary all the time, "Give me more of that. I don't like it. Get me out of here." That's a reaction.
The whole teaching is around observing what is without establishing a frame, a perception, or a story around things because when you have a perception, which we all have perceptions, that's when the suffering occurs in the perception or the story you're telling yourself. Vipassana is all about dropping that frame from that perception and seeing things as they are as objectively as you can. That's the whole premise of Vipassana and the technique if that makes sense.
The suffering occurs in the perception or the story you're telling yourself.
It makes perfect sense. I was thinking. You were saying, "Craving." If you eat something sweet, and it tastes good, you're like, "I want more of that." To your point, if you work out or do something that didn't feel comfortable, aversion is like, "I want to get away. I don't want that. Get it away from me." Ignorance is not being aware or not having the knowledge to know this at all. We vacillate back and forth between the two.
I love that way because if we think of any suffering in our lives, it starts with craving and aversion. It's a comprehensive and simplified view of the cause of our suffering. It's craving and aversion. It's pretty cool.
I like that explanation. I know your readers want to know, and so do I. What was the most challenging part of the entire experience?
I got a question on Instagram, "What was the most challenging part? What was the easiest part?" To leverage what questions have been asked with yours, Nikki, I'm going to ask that one. I'll start with yours. The most challenging part for me, which I haven't suspected going in, was the physical pain that you feel by sitting ten hours a day meditating. It is intense because I'm not used to meditating without back support.
It's not the whole ten hours you meditate without back support because you can go to your room, but in a lot of those hours, I meditated without back support in the Dhamma hall, the room where everyone meditates, for accountability of myself mainly in the mornings. I didn't want to fall asleep in my room. I quickly learned that 4:30 AM meditations in my room didn't work at all. I had to go back to the Dhamma hall. I meditated for a lot of hours without back support. The pain was incredible, but it's interesting how the body is also linked to the mind because as days passed by, my back pain disappeared. It is crazy.
In the beginning, I was like, "I'm dying, but I'm staying here." After 2 to 3 days, I couldn't even notice my back pain. It's crazy how you adapt and how the pain is also your mind saying that you're doing something different. If your body is seeing you're doing something different, it's going to freak out. Your mind is saying, "Silence. You're doing this ten hours a day." It's going to freak out. It's a huge pattern interruption. It's the pain and the numbness in my leg.
On day four, we start periods that we call strong determination, which are one-hour meditations where you are highly recommended not to move. In one hour of meditation, you don't move. We have three of those one-hour group settings where you are suggested strongly not to move at all. I did all of them after the first day without moving and not reacting to the numbness in my legs and the pain in my back.
The first two days at 4:30 AM when I meditated in the Dhamma hall, I had a massive headache. The physical pain for me was the most challenging one for sure. In terms of the easiest things, I knew silence was not going to be a concern for me. I recharge with silence. Silence is something that I enjoy even though I'm sure some people think that I'm a super extrovert, but I recharge with silence without anyone. Silence for me wasn't the hard part. It was one of the easiest things.
It's also eating vegetarian. I'm not vegetarian. I eat meat every single day twice a day, to be honest with you. I was surprised at how yummy the vegetarian food was. After the Vipassana course ended, I was like, "I have the technique. Can I get the recipes for the food? It was ridiculously good." They made it easy for sure for people that are not vegetarian usually. It was so yummy. It was amazing.
One of the other challenging parts was the perceived safety component in my mind. This is something that probably I was the only one struggling with. I started realizing that it may be from my childhood. In these dorms and these facilities, there is no lock of anything. Your room doesn't have a lock. The dorms don't have locks. You are on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. Kaufman has a 7,000-people population.
You don't have your phone because you checked in your phone on day 1, and then you get it back on day 10. I wish I would say it was at the beginning, but throughout the whole ten days, I was freaked out a little bit. Honestly, it's also from my childhood because my childhood was one of survival. My childhood wasn't one that I would like my kids to go through. My mom and I were hiding for six months running away from the Cuban government. We experienced so many moments of high stress and high anxiety in hiding and thinking that someone was going to come in.
I had never realized at such depth how much that has affected me. Being without a cell phone in case something happens and being without locks, in my mindset, feeling safe was hard. Nothing happened. These people are high-integrity. Everything is structured. Everything is disciplined. Everything has kindness and compassion. It was my mind racing, to be honest with you.
My next question was going to be this. What do you feel your biggest breakthrough was? I'm hearing a little bit of that part, but what would you say overall would be your biggest breakthrough?
That was one. We were completely vulnerable. I was like, "Do I have PTSD?" I'm not saying it's PTSD from the war or anything, but do I have post-traumatic stress disorder from my childhood? Who knows? That's something for me to explore at a deeper level. Vipassana is such a deep practice that it will open up some wounds. Imagine ten days with you looking at your thoughts, emotions, and everything. Enough time to think about everything starts opening up things naturally, which is one of the reasons that I wanted to do it.
We are in such a busy nonstop life that we don't get enough time to look within ourselves. Even though I meditate for 20 minutes or 30 minutes every day, it's still not enough. I would love to meditate more. That was a huge breakthrough. It was an interesting insight for me to look within myself and continue exploring and practicing the practice on that sense of how it feels in my body and my emotions.
We are in such a busy nonstop life that we don't get enough time to look within ourselves.
There were several days when I felt an immense sense of gratitude for everything or a huge connectedness with everyone and everything around me. I wouldn't say that was the bulk. The ten days are challenging. I wouldn't lie. It was amazing and challenging at the same time. The whole focus of Vipassana and that course is hard work and discipline. Hard work is not easy, but I experienced a lot of gratitude.
Some grief came up with my uncle. More than the miscarriage, I didn't have much that came up, to be honest with you. I feel pretty good about that. When I went to Hawaii for three weeks of my spiritual development training, there was a lot of grief there that I was able to heal, but still, my uncle passed away years ago, and my grandmother one year after he did. I do feel there is some grief there that I was able to heal. I'm still healing.
That was a big breakthrough that I was aware of. There were lots of gratitude. There was a lot of opening in my heart chakra. The chest and my heart are a place where I experience stress and sometimes anxiety. While observing the sensations in my body, I observed the chest for a long time, and I did feel there was an opening. I even saw a sensation of openness.
A couple of times, I saw lights while meditating. I don't know if this is proven scientifically, but apparently, it's a sign that your third eye is opening when you see flashes of light. I saw it twice or three times. I joke with my husband when I came back from Vipassana. I was like, "Do you see my halo?" He was laughing, but there was no halo. I'm not enlightened yet. I'm far away from it, but it was an amazing experience. More than anything, there's an awareness of things that I'm still working through healing and transforming. Those are the things that came out for me.
I love it. That's awesome. You and I are such closely connected friends that while you were gone, I could feel some of that connectedness to you. I tried to be silent for one day all on my own. It didn't last very long.
It's interesting. This is about the interconnected dance that you are talking about. I came back on Sunday and met half of my clients on Tuesday. I did see some trends, not in terms of grief or anything, but energetically, they also got the benefit from me going to Vipassana, which was interesting. We have a similar spiritual teacher. We have many teachers, but one is similar. He gets affected energetically by the things we go through. We have many experiences where we have seen that. It's crazy how everything is interconnected energetically. Time and space are not linear. We are not there physically, but energetically, we are interconnected. That's awesome. I hope it was beneficial for you.
It was. Would you recommend this to other people? Who specifically? Maybe not everybody is ready.
Ideally, I'll recommend it to everyone. Anyone can benefit from it. You have to be focused on your personal development. That's number one. You have to be open to learning new techniques. We truly believe not all knowledge is in the same school. Whenever you're learning a new technique, you have to leave your prior knowledge out of the door and come with your cup empty to be able to learn. Someone that can do that and have the flexibility to be there to fully learn is super important.
The third one is very important. It's knowing that it's going to be challenging and having the strength and discipline to know that you are going to be struggling potentially for a big part of the ten days and to decide that you're going to stay anyways. That's a big one. You have to be disciplined with a strong mindset to go through the ten days. Everyone, out of the 60-something people, stayed. No one left. I heard that sometimes people leave, but no one left. It is possible. Millions of people do this in different centers. It is possible for anyone as long as you have that determination, "I'm going to be disciplined. I'm ready to go."
You are doing the techniques that they're teaching and all of that. I can't imagine. When you're silent for that long, does your mind go here and there? Where does your mind go when you're silent that long? How do you stay on point?
That's a question I got a lot on Instagram, "What were you thinking? Where does your mind go?" In the meditation, I was trying to be focused. When I observed my mind going somewhere, I would go back, but I was thinking and course-correcting, "Let's come back to my breath." You may do it for two minutes, and then you will start thinking of something. It is like taming or training an animal to follow commands. Our mind is like an animal at times. As human beings, when it comes to developing habits, we have to reprogram ourselves. It is that resilience, "This happened. It's okay. Come back."
I did that pretty well. In the end, I was like, "I'm ready." I lost a little bit of focus. Outside of the meditation, I thought about everything. I thought about every client, every friend, every ex that I've ever had, and every single thing in my life. You have time to think about everything, to be honest with you. It was interesting. Your mind goes wherever it needs to go. There were times when I cried out of nowhere out of gratitude. There were times when I cried out of nowhere while walking out of grief.
One of the challenging parts was it was cold in that area for most of the course. We didn't get to walk outside a lot, unfortunately. I would walk into the women's dorm hall, which is an L-shape. I would walk that back and forth. It was hard because now that it's so cold, icy, and everything outside, you're more to yourself without spending much time in nature. That was challenging too for a lot of people I heard after the course finished. Your mind goes everywhere. It is normal. I thought about every single person that I know.
You're back and integrating into your business life after the experience. You came back, and it was very busy. How did you transition? How were you feeling?
I came back on Sunday. I was like, "I haven't eaten breakfast. I cleaned a lot for two hours. Let's go get breakfast and have meat." I needed to break that pattern. Honestly, I don't miss meat anymore. I was telling Nikki I ate vegetarian. I was so happy, but it was like, "I want to have it again and see how it feels." We ate brunch, and I realized how much slower I was, not slower like, "Are you okay?" It's slower in a centered way because even in the way I was moving, I was slow. I was tired too, but I find myself being more centered and slow.
I did notice on Tuesday that I had 6 different sessions and 2 clarity calls. That was a lot after ten days in the nothingness of your mind to come back into the world. You know how committed I am to my clients. Ten days is a good break from coaching. I knew that I needed to get right back on track for them and me. I'm integrating. I'm not fully integrated. It's interesting because it seems like a blur. It's like, "What happened? Did that happen?" You get back on track, and you're like, "It's a normal life," but it seems like a blur in time when I was in a monastery. Not that this was a war, but it makes me reflect on people after being months in a war like the military. They come back and reintegrate. I cannot even imagine.
I was ten days not even at war looking at myself, my emotions, and everything, but even that can seem like, "Did that happen? Was that a blur?" I cannot imagine people that go through a big transition like that coming back into the world. It's interesting. I'm still integrating after five days of being back, honoring my needs, and observing how I feel even if it's pleasurable or not. I'm still practicing the technique. The teacher recommends two hours a day, which would be ideal. I'm doing 20 minutes, which is far away from 2 hours, but at least, I want to keep it going and hopefully, build up to 2 hours, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening in the near future.
Did you find yourself judging yourself at all for anything now that you're home, "I'm not doing this enough. Should I do it more? This was a craving. It's an aversion." How do you get back into the regular world knowing what you know?
Not in that sense. I'm observing it. I do find moments where I've judged more myself, "I went through ten days. I should be feeling amazing and much wiser and all this stuff." I've found that this happens when you're in a grading. You are like, "Ten days happened. I'm not enlightened. I knew that." I still struggle with a lot of things. I used to struggle before. Ten days is nothing. 100 hours a day in 10 days sounds a lot. It is a lot, but at the end of the day, it is nothing.
In terms of judging everything, it's more like, "Did I progress enough? Did I get the most out of it? Why am I still struggling with similar things?" I've realized that it's more about still struggling with those things. Rather than reacting, observe what is. That requires practice. That is not easy. It's continuing to show up like that as I move forward. Those are the things that I've judged myself for, to be completely vulnerable and honest.
I know because we have both done different personal growth experiences. Sometimes when I come home, I'm like, "Shouldn't I be fixed by now?"
"I'm energized and perfect." Honestly, I come back from that training super tired.
The energy of the people around helps. When you come home, you only have your energy. You don't have the teachings going on and the different interactions of the people. You don't realize how much effort you were putting into the experience. When you come home, you're like, "That wore me out."
The last training that I've taken is so much work on myself. Even interacting with people sometimes can be draining, at least for me. I'm not saying this for my clients or anything. I'm talking about training and stuff. I don't know if that's related, at least for me. Every person is different. It's more that you have a purpose. For me, it has to be with the purpose and the why. I'm going to be there for ten days doing this. I'm ready. I'm prepared mentally. I go through it. I'm focused.
After accomplishing that purpose, now it's integrating back into how you continue leveraging or using what you have learned back into your life because now, the responsibility is fully yours. Before you were in a contained environment, you had the instructions for this. In that sense, I do feel connected to what you were saying, Nikki. It's more like that purpose of, "I'm going to do this. I'm ready. I'm time-based." I come back. I have to reintegrate myself. That might be connected.
What do you want your readers to know after everything that we have talked about? Is there anything that we didn't cover? You're like, "I want them to know these things about my experience."
I've repeated this so many times already. It's observing how you feel instead of reacting. I don't mean, "I feel sad. I'm going to cry." That's not a reaction. You are feeling emotions. Cry if you want to cry. Reacting is, "I'm feeling sad. I don't want to feel sad. Let me go to a shopping mall or watch TV." That's reacting in the form of aversion. I would say to my readers based on my experience and what I'm practicing too is whatever you're feeling, feel it and observe it as it is versus craving more of it or feeling that you want to walk away from it because if you don't face that emotion or that challenge right at the moment, that's going to continue to be suppressed. One day, you're going to blow up completely. You are not going to be aware of where that came from because that's what happens a lot of times.
We feel a certain way. We don't want to feel that way. We buried it so we can continue to be functional. We don't allow that space to be with ourselves. Honor yourself. Work on yourself because your salvation and transformation are only your responsibility. I always tell Nikki and everyone else, "No one else is going to come here to save you or transform you." It depends on us to show up, choose ourselves, and work on ourselves in every sense. My major lesson was that. Do not react to it. Simply observe it and feel it. That's it. Once you feel calm, centered, and balanced, choose a course of action and go for it. I still have my teaching from coaching. It's very action-oriented.
I love it. Are there any other things you would like us to know?
I would love to check Instagram because there were a couple of people that asked questions about my experience. I want to make sure we have answered each one of them, "Did you feel sleepy during ten hours of meditation?" Honestly, I didn't. I was very surprised at how energized I was overall. I don't know if it was because I was eating less. We were doing less physical activity.
I don't know if it was because I was focused on the schedule. I didn't feel sleepy at all. The only time I felt sleepy and fell asleep was on days 3 and 4. I tried meditating at 4:30 AM in my room. That wasn't effective, but there is no failure, only feedback. From day 5 to 10, I made sure to go to the Dhamma hall and meditate there, but overall, I didn't feel sleepy, which was interesting.
Here's something that I didn't say. Everything is very organized. Even in the meditation hall, you have an assigned seat in the hall. You have your room assigned. In the kitchen, you also have a number assigned, which is where you sit every single day, and because they want to create this sense of isolation, you are looking at the wall. Every single table is against the wall. You're looking at the wall so you're not looking at people and you don't distract yourself. You are only to yourself. That's the whole experience they want to recreate.
"What kind of food?" It's vegetarian. It was amazing. Honestly, the technique was amazing. It's a great breakthrough. The food was one of the highlights. I have to be honest. I was like, "Vegetarian is cool," but every day was a surprise and an experience. This is all cooked by volunteers. To me, it's mind-blowing because it's so structured. Everything is so high-integrity. Everyone is so disciplined. I've stayed in expensive hotels. My room was way cleaner than a lot of the expensive hotels that I've stayed at. Everything is so well-executed.
"Were you able to pick up your phone for anything or talk to anyone?" No. On day 0 before day 1 starts, you give your phone away. They locked it somewhere. I don't know where. On day ten, at 4:00 PM you can get your phone back. You're not supposed to use it. I did use it. Everyone was using it, so it's fine. That was it. I reviewed the rest of the questions. We have answered them. I'm so excited that we have to do this together. I appreciate you. Thank you for making the time, Nikki.
I would have missed it. If it wasn't me doing it with you, I would have been so sad.
I have a question for you. Would you do it now that you have heard my experience, which is my perception and experience? Would you do a ten-day Vipassana silent course meditation?
It's so funny. You asked me about it before when you were sharing it with me. You were telling me about it. I have a person that does body work on me like Kinesio myofascial integration and massage techniques. He told me about it last summer. That was the first time I had heard of it. It went in one ear, I researched it, and it went out the other. When you told me you were doing it, I was like, "This is what Michael was telling me about."
For some reason, my brain and my gut are churning. I would consider it. I don't know when for sure because I get a four-day silent retreat at Ashram in Virginia. It was amazing. It's not meditation that long at all, but it was amazing. To your point, it's very structured and disciplined. I'm chatty, and people thought I would have a hard time being quiet. I enjoyed the quiet. My friend that went with me had trouble, and she's not as chatty as I am. It's funny what shows up as a challenge. What you think might be challenging isn't. What you didn't think would be challenging is a big challenge.
It is interesting. Something that I forgot to share was there is a structure that is called the pagoda. In that beautiful circular structure, there are individual meditation cells. You can also meditate there. It's a beautiful building. It's nice. You had three options. You could meditate in your room, the pagoda, or the Dhamma hall. I thought that was cool. Honestly, I thought the beginning of the ten days was going to be hard and after the middle was going to be easy. That was my perception. It was the opposite for me.
The beginning was easy because I was like, "Easy peasy." It's not easy that I'm not dying because of my back pain. I had back pain, but it was easier usually. In the middle, it got a little bit harder. On day nine, I'm like, "I'm ready. Let's go." It got a little bit harder with time for me. That was something interesting to observe. The technique was more complex. There were those periods when you couldn't move. You're being challenged also as the ten days progress. At the end of the ten days, they give you a lot of healing meditation for you to practice. That was pretty cool too.
One other thing I thought about was I sometimes struggle with sleeping. When you got to go to sleep, did you fall right out? Were you laying in bed awake and thinking of things? Did you feel rested? Was the time that you were able to sleep or that you were allowed to sleep enough? Do you normally sleep more than that? Did you miss anything?
I usually sleep for eight hours. I got ten. I went right to sleep. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night, but overall, I would fall asleep quickly. Usually, I fall asleep quickly, not like my husband. He does it way faster than me, but I don't struggle with falling asleep usually. I struggled with that safety thing in my mind. Overall, after ten hours of meditation, you're pretty tired. Seventeen hours of schedule from 4:00 AM to 9:00 PM or something like that was helpful.
If it's something that calls your name, and you're ready for ten days to put in the discipline, I would recommend that. It was transformational and very healing. It's something that I would love to continue doing. They have 30 days and 45 days. That's not in my plans, but I met people that have done the 30 days, and they love it. I've met people that every year, they do a ten-day course. I didn't tell you that there was someone in Vipassana with me that I knew. I took my first NLP practitioner training back in 2017 and met this person there in January 2017 years before this Vipassana retreat. It was interesting to see someone, but I couldn't interact with her until day ten.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me and all of your readers.
Thank you so much, Nikki, for your availability, for being here, and for your insights. Thank you, everyone, for tuning in. It's Dhamma.org. It's free. They have many courses everywhere around the world and in the US. If this is something that interests you, famous people like Dan Harris, Yung Pueblo, and many others have done it. They have found an immense benefit in it as I did. I hope if it calls you that you do it. Thank you so much, everyone. We love you all. I'll see you.
- Nikki Rineholt - Instagram
About Nikki Rineholt
My friend and fellow coach, Nikki, interviewed me about my Vipassana silent meditation experience.
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