My friend Jacob tells me a story about his colleague Karl. He's sniffs from joy, because he thinks it's absolutely absurd: around Christmas and New Year Karl is going to a meditation retreat, and this meditation is SO strict that when he moves, he has to leave the room and he can't go back in.
While Jacob chuckles through this story, I want to know where Karl is going.
I WANT THAT TOO.
A few months later I go where Karl went: a 10-day retreat where you practice vipassana meditation. And it is in NO WAY how Jacob described it. It's not about strictness. No punishment. No sending out when you move. It's a meditation that has taught me the fundaments of life. Wherever I go, I take it with me. In daily life, but also in any other retreat of any other sort. I would and will always come back to what vipassana showed me.
Jacob is just a great storyteller. Knowing where to add some creamy details and spicy twists to increase the sensational effect. Listening to him is like being IN the adventures that come out of his mouth.
Hi Jacob! Love you!
Anyway. Vipassana. In my words, from my experience. So it's a completely personal thing. Here we go.
- It's a silent retreat, so no talking, no looking at eachother, you spend time just by yourself.
- First 3 days you practice anapana to calm your mind. You keep your attention on your breath, watching the air coming in and going out through your nostrils. Often you'll find yourself in a conversation you had before or overthinking a certain situation - no nostril to be seen in this. Hopla, focus back to breath. Over and over again. Till, indeed, the mind gets calmer.
- Day 4 to 9 you practice vipassana. You sit still, scan the body, observe the sensations, you do not respond, and you stay neutral (equanimous) to them. To some it may sound like a mindfulness meditation, but let me assure you: this goes way way deeper. It's like a surgery. From 4.30 in the morning, till 9.30 at night till the lights go out.
- Day 10 you start talking again.
Craving and clinging
You want to keep it, or you want it to be different then it is.
All experiences, good and bad, are stored in the body. From deep trauma's to light and joyful situations. And while we live our daily life, we often respond to situations from those places in our body. Annoyance to your neighbour, stressy about xxx, about xxx. We often want people or situations to be different because we don't want to feel that way.
If you sit still, these spots in your body start to come up. An aching spot in your back, a feeling of fire in your liver, numbness in your shoulder, itchy feelings - it can be anything. By not responding to these feelings - by sitting still AND not judging them, you let the sensation come up and release its movements, its energy. And all will pass - no matter how bad it is, there is an end to it. It may take a while, but eventually all the energy is out.
Stay neutral, stay equanimous
See them all
You scan your body from the tip of the head down to your toes, from the toes to the head. Always in the same order, to discipline yourself to keep moving. If you don't stick to that order you easily jump from strong sensation to strong sensation, while there are so many subtle sensations too. Everything wants to be seen and felt - from sweet little tremblings to huge blocks of burning pain. See them, observe them, investigate them - and then move on.
I would feel like a lightening shock in my heart center, some heart beats and then with a tickling electric sensation the pain would go away. I knew that that memory was stored there.
I haven't forgotten about it. But the tension or the emotions that came with it, that were stored in my body, I've released it. I'm not erasing my memory, I'm erasing the stuck emotions that were there.
Result: more energy for me. The released energy, is now available for other things.
Some stories get stuck in your body. The energy stays around that memory.
If I say it in my own words, according to my own experience, I know carry all the stories in my body. And they appear as sensations. Dissolving sensation by sensation I got rid of many many stories. Sometimes conscious stories, somethings memories I didn't even know they were still with me. By stopping to respond to them, by staying equanimous, they lost their grip on me. Result: less and less stress in my life, because less and less to respond to.
These 10 days take you step by step deeper in the technique - which in itself is quite simple: don't move, don't respond, stay alert. First 3 days we quiet our mind, while we still can move a bit on our seat. Then on day 4 we get the vipassana instructions. Which means sitting still for 2 hours - as in: NO moving.
In my experience all these sensations are linked to stories - sometimes stories you didn't even knew you
Okay, to give you an idea of these 10 days. The first 3,5 days you practice anapana - to quiet the mind. You keep observing your breath coming in going out of your nose. Everytime you're thoughts are somewhere else but your nostrils, you train it to come back.
Then on day 4 you get the Vipassana instructions. From top of the head to the tips of the toes you scan your body.
THE ART OF BEING HM DE GROOT
On one hand creating is a matter of just doing. Simple is that. But on the other hand it takes a lot to get to that point of creation. Besides techniques and materials it's a lot about... yourself. It goes up and down. From being in the flow to being convinced it all makes no sense. From exhilarating discoveries and breakthroughs to lonely moments in the endless desert of emptiness.