With that as the highlight, let me back up and recap the experience from beginning, since it was considerably more challenging than one excellent meditation session.
In order to help achieve mental silence, the course is conducted in an atmosphere of silence. The whole day is scheduled and structured from 4 AM to 9 PM, including two vegetarian meals at 6:30 AM and 11 AM. The course taught Vipassana meditation specifically, which seeks insight through observing reality as it is. At the first night’s orientation, before silence became the law of the land, the manager made some general announcements. The next morning, after sleeping in a shared dormitory, the gong rang at 4 AM and the course officially began.
To me, the physical pain in the early days overwhelmed the other things I was trying to focus on, like my breathing. By Day 4 and 5, I had finally figured out a physical position that was relatively comfortable to me — kneeling and semi-sitting on a bench. Turning off the spigotA of information and conversation meant my mind had to plunge through my personal past to generate thoughts as I walked or ate or rested or, yes, while I tried to meditate. By the final third of the course, doubt and anxiety about leaving had passed (home stretch!), the physical pain had subsided (alternating between bench and chair), my growling stomach had come to terms with the dramatic drop in daily caloric intake, and I was able to focus more deeply in the actual meditation practice. I was of mixed minds about the broader Buddhist philosophy that Goenka taught in the course.
To answer my prior post about trying something I could fail at, did I fail at this meditation course? Going forward, the question I’m asking is,A how can I develop meditation as a daily habit? Last summer I spent 7 days in silent meditation at Spirit Rock in Marin (after not doing much meditation at all previously).
As a general rule — You must be willing to give something up before you can truly attain it.
This post is more shockingly metaphysical than I would have expected from the Ben Casnocha.
My question, in 2007 as in 2012, remains “is Buddhism still a viable way of living even if you cannot completely follow its tenants? I am now seriously considering and looking into doing a meditation retreat in the near future. I’d be curious to hear from you in a week, or a month, to see if the focus and clarity that you experienced is something that you can recreate and use further down the line. Now I realize that the meditation may have a release from daily cares, but that it also entails more work and a deeper experience, yet there is still that component that insists that life will be different from this point hence. It seems as though our culture has decided that reacting on impulse is the only possible option. I just found your site through Karen Anderson and loved the serendipity of finding this great post, especially because I just wrote about my meditation practise on my Traveling Light blog yesterday.
It is a welcome respite from the constant randomness of stimuli, both internal and external. As a side note, I wonder how big an impact committing yourself to friends and readers ahead of time had in your perseverance. This is also the second post I have come across regarding the vipassana 10 day meditation experience. I’m 22 and looking into phasing in meditation to my daily routine- from your experience, does starting this early amplify the positive effect?
Hello there, I’m new on the web and would like to share ideas about meditation and the teachings of the Buddha. I have done 2 10-day Vipassanas and I know very well the challenges they can bring, especially those first few days. I wish you the best on your journey, and look forward to further reflections on the blog of this nature and of the more entrepreneurial kind as well. I very rarely respond to blogs or anything on the net but felt inclined to do so to your blog. I’d be most interested in any follow-up reflections on the tension you identified between detachment and ambition. If you would have this experience before your book and start-ups, do you think your entrepreneurial journey would be any different? Your post is written in a wonderful way, telling all the personal but also universal stories on the path.
Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way and can help in clearing the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression.


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The Australian School of Meditation & Yoga, is a not-for-profit organisation that introduces the community to the yoga lifestyle and tradition. Desktop users: right click on the image and choose "save image as" or "set as desktop background". I was partially kneeling and partially sitting on a small bench in the meditation hall with about 45 other meditators, doing breathing techniques (anapana) and scanning my body for sensations (vipassana).
And I’ll add the proviso that I just got home a couple days ago, so I am still absorbing all that happened.
I’ve been meditating sporadically and informally for about a decade, originally as an attempt to reduce stress. What began for me, though, was less about meditation and Buddhism and more about struggling to position my body on a meditation cushion on the floor.
It was like trying to observe subtle breath and subtle sensations while a bullhorn blasted in your ear.
While I rarely made it the full 60 minutes without throbbing in my knees, I was able to go a good 45 minutes feeling like I was in a steady posture and able to focus on my respiration and bodily sensations. Now that I’m back connected to reality, I appreciate how recent emails or recent songs that get stuck in your head distract from the task of meditation. If you have a goal and want to achieve it, you have to be at least somewhat attached to the outcome.
The minutes of sheer mental clarity and control I experienced on Day 8 and recapped at the outset were amazing and I want to have that more regularly. Work diligently, work intelligently, work patiently and persistently…and you are bound to be successful, bound to be successful. They reminded us of this point — the paradox of achieving control and stillness and the indirect route to getting there. After all these years consensual reality is very sparkly, walls breathe, and the white porcelain toilet bowl is colorful and spins when I take a leak, but it’s beautiful.
However, I haven’t read enough books to really make a weighty recommendation, so chew on that rec with a dollop of salt.
I feel like I have a brain that, like a shell-shocked dog, jumps at every single thought and stimulus. For years I’ve been thinking about attending one of these, and your post reminded me that I need to make it a priority. I believe I was actually on the retreat the fall before that, so it’s been a good long time.
There are ridiculous amounts of studies that tell us how wonderful meditation is for our health, both physical and mental (as if the two can ever be separated) but I can only attest for my improved well-being as a result.
If I had tried this, I would have been much more tempted to give myself an out if I knew no one would find out. I was worried that such a long period of meditation would be too much of a mental strain or that the vipassana people were cultish. If I may, with Metta, first I think we should not tell anyone but your teacher and spiritual friends about your experiences. I think it is important for everybody to know that experiences differ from person to person. Ive done about 8 of these retreats, and I always fall off the wagon at a certain point from the daily practice. I did Vipassana about 5 years ago and I still do have Geonkaji’s words in my mind and in hard times on my cushion, I still think of them. Free Meditation courses are offered by the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga, with classes held in Nerang and Mermaid Beach, during January & February, 2013.
The yoga tradition is thousands of years old and continues to benefit the lives of millions of people worldwide. You will learn how to cope better with stress and improve your physical and mental well-being.
Shortly after starting the session, my mind became as sharp as I’ve ever felt it in my life.
The nerve pain on the right side of my body was so sharp that at the end of Day 2 I began to seriously contemplate leaving the course. It was true, I learned later — even though 70% of the other students seemed very athletic and in good shape (the guy meditating next to me did an Ironman last year), everyone was in pain.
There were a couple designated walking areas on the property and most students including me walked in circles around the paths, over and over.


On the retreat itself, silence eliminated anxieties that people on the retreat were talking about you and judging you. It was certainly interesting to observe which memories came to mind, though I did not have any profound realizations about life in the process other than an important meta realization: our subconscious is informed by vast numbersA of memories.
I was able to feel sensation in a focused area just above the upper lip and to the top of the nostril. This way of living has helped me as much as it has hurt an I’m looking to find a way to better understand and manage it. You were wondering how this might look in the long-term so I thought I’d weigh in and share my post-retreat experience.
And to describe what happened you need to choose words and then the self, I, gets involved… In a 10-day retreat it is impossible to do vipassana, but Goenka teaches a course for the mass. My work is focused on atrocity prevention, and I would think that people who are enormously attached to the outcomes of their work is an enormous asset.
Part of the problem is the noise of real life makes the sessions much harder once you leave the retreat. The Image Viewer allows you to resize the image to fit your screen, display as a thumbnail, zoom in up to 200%, or even change the background color.For information regarding possible commercial licensing of this image from Scala Group, Art Resource or Bridgeman Art Library, click here. Myself, I attended a 10 day Vipassana meditation course in Northern California, organized by the Dhamma Manda center and taught via video and audio by S.N. I’ve been talking about going on a silent retreat since 2009 to try to help make it a daily habit. There was essentially no instruction or discussion of the various cushions, benches, pads available to use–it was up to me to grab cushions and figure out how to lock in a position. I crafted a narrative in my head to explain to people back home about the pain and how I would practice sitting on my own and return and finish the course later.
I acquired tools and exercises that bring the mind to the present moment that I have taken home with me and already deployed in day to day life.
If we are pursuing outcomes that we believe are inherently valuable, to an end that goes beyond social advancement of oneself, shouldn’t we use every tool at our disposal with passion and intensity? The Buddha was very ambitious, he was determined to find enlightenment, then he was driven to spread his wisdom until he died. It is said to help you develop clarity and wisdom, gaining a greater understanding of life.
Goenka (of India) and in-person by assistant teachers carrying out his vision of Vipassana. Think ofA it likeA a Great Books model of education or an originalism interpretation of the Constitution. So I really went into last week’s course knowing very little about what I was getting myself into but very motivated to learn more. Second, I do think I acquired skills that put me on the path to having a more disciplined mind and perhaps a more compassionate heart. Although Goenka advised two one hour sits a day, I’m going to start with one 45 minute sit a day. It was only when I let go of the notion of control that i was able to achieve any of the stillness. The second day I woke up with severe nerve pain up and down the entire right side of my body. And experiencingA the present moment, finding peace and joy in the present, is something I can and should do more of (and the course helps with that). I underestimated myself–which, as we write in the Risk chapter of The Start-Up of You, is a function of the negativity bias built into us by natural selection. It was a striking difference from what often happened during my meditation sits (and during life in general): the mind inviting hundreds of random thoughts to derail a moment of concentration.
To top it off, during the sit, I visualized a glass window in my mind and in my mind’s eye focused on it and it cracked the window, as if just thinking about the window produced the sort of cracks you see when a bullet strikes bulletproof glass. When the chanting began playing on the hall audio speakers to signal the end of the session, I felt sad. Now in most of the other sits I greeted the sound of the glorious final chanting with relief, signaling as it did the imminent end to 60 minutes in a frozen posture, knees throbbing, back aching. But that night, I was thriving, my mind was as sharp as freshly sharpened hunting spear, and I felt totally and completely relaxed.



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