Spiders, Farts, Torture, and Enlightenment

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Ten days in a silent meditation retreat.

Vipassana torture

Here’s a short description of what a Vipassana retreat is like: try relaxing on a banana lounge in paradise for ten days while someone waterboards you.

It was complicated. It was a clusterflap of contradictory adjectives: soothing and excruciating, mind-blowing and boring, profound and monotonous, frustrating and liberating…

Given these contradictions, how do I summarise my Vipassana experience into a pithy blog post? How can I begin to explain what has happened in my life since then? How can I tell you, dear blog readers, why meditating for one hundred hours over ten straight days was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself? Where do I even begin?

Here, I guess:

The beginning

The experience first got peculiar at home when I packed my small suitcase for the retreat. The course rules stated that all distractions and sources of entertainment were forbidden, including computers, books, paints, writing materials, or anything else that one might feel inclined to pack in a weekend getaway bag—practical or kinky.

Normally when I go away for ten days I pack three kinds of Apple devices and their tangle of chords, a year’s worth of ambitious literature, painting equipment, sketchbooks, a Wacom tablet, a scanner… God forbid I should get the urge to make art and not have the right tools on me, or suddenly decide it’s time to read Ulysses.

I once woke up in a sweat from a nightmare about being stranded on an island without reading material, and after a crazed search I found only a pathetic pile of dusty romance novels with pages missing. I’m not making this up. Being without brain food is the stuff of my nightmares.

With only clothing and toiletries left to pack, my bag was alarmingly light:

Vipassana What to Bring

As the course rules stated, we were to bring only non-distracting, non-revealing, loose-fitting clothing, which I interpreted to mean: Dress like a person who has given up on life. I took special care to weed my suitcase of anything that was remotely stylish, until I’d pared my wardrobe down to an artfully designed costume of bland.

Makeup-less and hair frizzed out to the heavens, I beamed all the way to the meditation centre, thinking I’d nailed the wardrobe requirements. But—but!—upon arriving, I saw women floating around in orange harem pants and cashmere saris the colour of a tropical dream. These women looked amazing! And then there was me, layered up in twelve kinds of Don’t You Fucking Touch Me.

Vipassana Clothing

I knew then that it was going to be a long ten days.

The Experience

About sixty of us sit in the dark meditation hall. A carpeted walkway up the centre of the room divides the men from the women, and all is silent apart from distant birds and rustling gumtrees. The distractions of real life—friends, jobs, TV, music—are already a hazy memory. Our new norm is sitting upright for hours on end in a room full of strangers doing the same.

We’ve all pledged to ten days of ‘nobel silence’. No talking, no gesturing, no eye contact. Men and women are segregated too. In order to fully benefit from the teachings, we are to consider ourselves alone here. But hungry for stimulation, I let my eyes explore the backs of the meditators ahead of me, hoping to solve the mystery of who they are by analysing every detail of their clothes and postures. I know I’m breaking the rules, so I return my gaze to my watch.

We’re only five minutes into an hour-long meditation session.

Fifty-five minutes until lunch time.

I hear a belly growl to my right and a muffled fart to my left, on the men’s side. Until this retreat, I had no idea that so many people are perfectly comfortable with letting one rip in a silent hall. There it is, my first nugget of wisdom from this course: humans fart a lot. Correction: Men fart a lot. Oh wait, I already knew that.

Vipassana Silence

I suppress the urge to giggle. The teacher’s eyes dart my way. She sits at the front of the room with a posture so straight that she appears to have had surgery to replace her spine with a flag pole. Her stillness is nothing short of creepy. She reminds me of the preserved bodies of meditating monks that are often on display in Buddhist temples, long dead and dried up like beef jerky. Buddhist Jerky. The only moving part of Buddhist Jerky is her eyeballs, which roam the room and penetrate each of us in turn with the intensity of a mind reader.

If she is reading mine, she’s seeing a circus of bouncing ideas and somersaulting worries. It’s nothing but monkey chatter, but it all seems urgent and important. My racing ideas and worries are occasionally interrupted by a ringmaster’s feeble attempts to assert discipline.

Wouldn’t it make a great short story to write about—

Not now. It’s meditation time.

When I get out of this place, the first thing I’m going to do is sign up for a—

Hey! SHHHH! It’s meditation time.

What am I getting out of this stupid retreat anyway? 

Torre! SHHHHHH! SHUT UP NOW!

Vipassana Quiet

I wonder if they’re going to serve that delicious date cake at lunchtime again? 

I said shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP! SHHHHHHHH!

And so on.

I shake my head and turn my focus to the one simple task I’ve been given: to feel the sensations in my nostrils. Cold air rushes in, hot air rushes out, a microscopic fibre tickles my left nostril.

Dammit. The itch is overwhelming. My right index finger twitches, ready to scratch.

Vipassana Meditation Twitch

I resist. Do not move your mouth, hands or feet for an hour, we’ve been told. Work through any discomfort. Everything is impermanent. Everything is constantly arising and passing away. Arising and passing away. Do not give in to cravings or aversions. Giving in only creates deep, deep misery. Resist. Observe.

Observe.

Observe.

Observe.

I observe the tingle in my nose, which is now intense and violating. I’m 100% sure that a spider is trying to burrow into my face and lay eggs!

Vipassana Bug Face

I’m desperate for the relief that a scratch will bring!

Can’t I just give it a cheeky jab with my pinky finger? Buddhist Jerky isn’t looking my way, now is a good time to—

No you cannot!

I hold my mediation pose without moving.

The itch disappears.

It seems I’ve won the battle.

Yes! I won! I am the meditation king. I am an enlightened God. I’m a pretzel-shaped superhuman. You know what would go really well with this new enlightened person I’m becoming? An ankle bracelet with little bells on it. Maybe some incense and tealight candles for my room. And a sari the colour of a tropical dream, of course.

Vipassana Meditation King

SHHHH!

Okay, sorry. But just one more thing: how long until lunch?

SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!!! 

I give in and check my watch. Seven minutes have ticked over, seven of the six thousand minutes required to get through this course.

It’s going to be a long ten days.

* * *

In between meditation sessions, we have free time. Most of us circle the property because it’s the only activity on offer. Roam-o-clock. The gardens are full aimless women, like someone has released a busload of Alzheimer’s patients at the park.

Vipassana Retreat Grounds

The grass. What the hell is going on with the grass? I notice that it’s not one shade of green, but a full spectrum of vibrant greens! In between the blades I spot tiny, beautiful flowers. Where before I saw a solid mass of green I am now seeing a complex artwork. What is this?

The gum trees are paintings dabbed with varied colours and textures. Has it always been this way? I stop and stare into the bush, marvelling. These commonplace plants are so extraordinary, so rich with complexity. The breeze touches my skin, and I feel alive in a way I never have before. I giggle out loud.

Only when I look up do I notice three other meditators standing still, staring into the bush, giggling.

Vipassana All the Beautiful Flowers

This simple beauty has been here all along. But we’ve all been too busy to notice it, too preoccupied with something that we call ‘life’.

* * *

Anicca, anicca. This is not permanent, this is not permanent,’ the teacher repeats. As if to demonstrate these teachings, the temperature is constantly jumping between warm breezes and snap freezes, then back again.

While walking to the meditation hall, a bone-chilling wind gains momentum on the hills and smacks me head-on.

Vipassana Wind Smack

My impulse is to gasp, to cover up, to run for shelter, to complain to anyone within earshot.

Oh my god how cold is it? 

(This is the anthem of Melbourne.)

I know, it’s so bloody cold.

(It’s a tired old script.)

But I don’t complain or cover up or run. Instead, I resist the urge to react and I observe, observe, observe the sensations…

Vipassana Awakening

I’ve been deprived of distractions for eight days and my body is becoming hyperaware. I can feel the sensations of the cold wind acutely, and it’s not what I’ve come to expect. It’s a thousand tiny taps all over my body, a rolling tingle that travels from nose to toes. What surprises me most is that the sensation is not painful. It’s not even uncomfortable.

It’s sensual. Erotic, almost. The cold prickles my skin and brings it alive.

I’m so used to reacting before I truly experience a moment for what it is. Most of us are. Our habits of reacting are automatic, carried over from moments in our past, from stale old memories. It’s not acting before you think; it’s reacting before you feel.

We reach to scratch our noses, run to escape the cold, or open our mouths to spew disapproval before we stop and observe without judgement, and ask: What am I really feeling right now? And what about now? And now? And now? Nothing is permanent; our life is made up of a series of passing sensations. So perhaps there is no need to react, then. No need to get anxious or worried. No need to become consumed by anger or fear or pain. It’s all passing.

This time I don’t run from the cold. Instead, I slow my steps to enjoy the prickly, sensual chill a little longer before going into the meditation hall.

The end

When I walked out of the retreat and into the car park (or heel-clicked to be specific), I was perplexed about what, exactly, I’d learned from doing a whole lot of nothing. I’d eaten twice-daily meals of delicious vegetarian food, I had slept soundly in a comfortable bed, I had discovered an incredible new ability to sleep upright against my will, and I had meditated. Oh boy, did I meditate.

But nothing much had happened. I feared that I’d gained nothing.

Months later, I’m I able to see the impact. Anxiety used to be a huge part of my life, and I dealt with it in the way that someone who lives by a freeway deals with the constant racket of traffic. It was in the background, loud and obnoxious and invasive, but always there and unable to be silenced.

Vipassana Peace

It’s gone now. Maybe it will come back, I don’t know. But whenever a worry comes into my head or a fear threatens to take over, I can pause the moment before the adrenalin kicks in, before I become lost in an automated reaction. I stop and ask myself, ‘Is this really worth worrying about? Is this really something to be afraid of?’

The answer is always no.

My dad is in hospice. I’m living with my mum. Our lives are full of uncertainty.

The answer is still no.

I don’t really know what happened to me in the meditation retreat, or why sitting for days on end has led to this new mindset. All I can tell you is this:

Life is an ongoing series of painful moments and happy ones. No one feeling ever lasts, no happy moment ever stays. Anicca, anicca. Cold comes, cold goes, pain comes, pain goes. Good and bad ebbs and flows like the tides, and trying to hold onto pleasure is as silly as trying to grasp the waves to stop them flowing back out to sea.

If you know this, you can detach and float freely. The constant grumble of worry fades away. There is no longer anything to run away from, to be afraid of, to avoid, to worry about. You can let go.

Detach. Because this is not permanent, this is not permanent.

___

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A HUGE thanks to Sarah Steenland for illustrating my words. I suggest that all of you befriend her on Twitter and Facebook, then head over to her blog. Sarah and I will be collaborating on more posts in the future. Stay tuned

Leave a Comment

  • Joel Stephenson @ Borderline Collective March 4, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Really amusing read! Interesting to hear how the experience affected you. There is absolutely no way I could manage more than a week with a blank mind and no way of acting on ideas.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:16 am

      The retreat does amazing things for your ideas, though! I wrote entire stories in my head, and since there are no distractions, the ideas don’t get lost. They stay lodged in your mind. You write them down at the end of the retreat and act on them once you’re out of jail. :)

      Reply
  • Janice Stringer March 4, 2014, 6:09 pm

    Hi Torre,
    I.m sorry to hear about your father..
    I found what was really interesting about your experience was in fact – what you learnt during that time, seemed to happen in tiny little moments and I think that is so like life don’t you? Whatever we are experiencing in those tiny little moments, they are the things that teach.
    And I totally get what you mean about men farting!! :-)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:18 am

      Thanks, Janice. All we have is the tiny little moments! But most of the time we’re all too busy thinking about what is for lunch, how we f*$%ed up in a meeting, or what our best friend did to upset us. The moments pass away, pass away, never noticed.

      Reply
  • Sonya B March 4, 2014, 6:32 pm

    Wow! I’ve been wanting to do something like this, but find it _so_ scary. It’s funny how even _knowing_ it would be good for me, I’m still afraid. Thanks for your piece, it is really inspiring.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:19 am

      It is scary. Every potentially life-changing experience is seriously scary. But that’s okay. Do it, Sonya. x

      Reply
  • Wanda St.Hilaire March 4, 2014, 8:39 pm

    Hey Torre,

    Post about farts (because I’m a ten-year-old boy in a woman’s body) and you’ve got me giggling. I’d be thrown out.

    I’m not inclined to go to retreats, especially silent ones. But I did something similar in Mexico for two winters. I had no phone, no internet and no TV in my little rustic Casa Rosita.

    There were roosters next door. I had a hammock in a courtyard with a couple of geckos and a wee rescue kitten. It took a little time but eventually I was content to spend hours in the hammock only tracking the moon and stars, my mind in a blissful state of quiet.

    I do believe it’s time for another “time out.”

    P.S. Love Sarah’s illustrations!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:20 am

      Ahh, your Mexican retreat sounds wonderful, Wanda!

      Reply
  • Cheryl @ Mid-Life Cruising! March 4, 2014, 9:03 pm

    Great post! Sounds like just about everyone, including me, could use this retreat. We are all so overstimulated, and quick to feel anxious. Glad you enjoyed it, and I will try to learn from your experience … especially when I’m finally on that sailboat and anxious as hell! =)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:21 am

      It would be truly valuable to learn how to do this before setting off sailing. I could’ve used it out there many times.

      Reply
      • Kathy March 7, 2014, 3:13 pm

        Torre, this was a wonderful post. Would you elaborate on how this would have helped you specifically while sailing? As a novice sailor I have some ideas, but I’d really like to read more about how this would have helped you.

        Reply
        • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:16 am

          Hi Kathy. Sailing as a lifestyle is full of intense emotions: the highest of joys, the lowest of lows. For me, having these skill taught in Vipassana would’ve allowed me to stay in control of my fear and anxiety during the trying times.

          Reply
          • Kathy March 14, 2014, 1:57 pm

            Thank you, Torre. That 20% of stuff that can go really, really wrong when sailing is what worries me the most. Sounds like your new-found skills are serving you well and hopefully others around you gravitate toward this new calm (calm begets calm) during trying times.
            Your blog is great fun to read – thank you for the smiles!

  • Sarah Somewhere March 4, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Great post and wonderful illustrations as always, Sarah! Thank you for the reminder that everything is temporary, my head is so full of extraneous noise at the moment, I need to make the effort to be still and detach from the barrage of thoughts which threaten to unhinge me. I’m glad it had such a profound affect on you. Kinda hard to go back to the ‘real world’ afterwards though hey?

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:26 am

      I didn’t find it hard to go back into the real world. It was certainly odd, though. One of the first things I did upon returning was open my laptop and check email. For the first time I saw my computer for what it really is: a cold piece of metal, a lifeless tool, a device for doing tasks. Of course, right? But I realised in that moment I’d become attached to it as though it was an extension of myself. My relationship to it had become far too intimate!

      Reply
  • Kim Schutte March 4, 2014, 10:35 pm

    Wow-fantastic read! I’ve never considered a meditation retreat, but your post is making me think I may need to change that. Thanks for posting this.

    (And kudos to Sarah from the great illustrations!)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:27 am

      That’s great to hear. I honestly think it’s something everyone should do.

      Reply
  • Lisa March 4, 2014, 10:41 pm

    Love your witty writing! (I’ve been secretly following you for months!)

    I can totally relate to being hyper-aware of every thought, sound, grumble, etc during meditation. I’m still learning how to turn off the brain!

    But I thought your final take-away was most poignant…life is a series of moments, which good, bad or indifferent, are all fleeting. We just need to enjoy the ride!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:28 am

      Welcome, Lisa! Thanks for commenting.

      I don’t think we can ever really learn to turn off the brain. But accepting it for what it is without judgement, including all the anxious chatter, is liberating.

      Reply
  • Rhonda March 4, 2014, 11:10 pm

    Wow.. I commend you because I am not sure I’d make it. I fear I’d have run screaming from the room on about minute 17. I have heard great things about silence retreats but… not sure I’ll add it to my bucket list. However, wonderful that you’ve found some peace. I tend to search for, and find, mine in nature.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 5, 2014, 12:30 am

      Nature is a great replacement for meditation retreats! I must say that my relationship to nature has improved significantly since doing the retreat. Let’s just say I stop and smell the roses a lot more often.

      Reply
  • Tanvi Mor March 5, 2014, 12:57 am

    Hey Torre!

    I was regularly following up for this write up. You wrote such a marvelous piece with great humor. The illustrations are equally interesting.
    I am sorry to hear about your dad! Hope you have been doing well and going strong. Keep writing. You are amazing!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:18 am

      Hi Tanvi. Nice to see you here! You’re lucky that I didn’t talk about my crazy roommate and her 45-step beauty regimen. :)

      Thanks for your lovely words. I hope to catch up with you one day for a coffee and a post-Vipassana chat. x

      Reply
  • Rudy March 5, 2014, 1:06 am

    I love your writing style, especially the flag-poled instructor image.

    There’s a charm to solitude, but only to those brave enough to embrace it. I’ve asked people time and again if they’ve been to a concert of the movies on their own (something I’ve done and enjoyed). Not one answered “yes” in my 4 or 5 years of asking. I don’t know why this is, and my guess is they don’t either.

    Anyways, thank you for the great read.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:19 am

      Hi Rudy. My pleasure!

      I went to the movies by myself for the first time this year and it was SO MUCH FUN! I don’t know why I never did this before. Fear of looking stupid? Appearing lonely?

      Reply
  • Angelica March 5, 2014, 2:54 am

    I guess we’ve all been waiting looong for your next post, and it has been worth it. Happy to hear that the meditation has been great for you. I haven’t done it myself, but I met a guy who’s done it. He also taught me how to meditate, so reading about your distracting thoughts (itchy nose, etc.) made me laugh so hard. But all he’s taught me has been so helpful even a year after especially the importance of a deep breath first when faced with any trigger of anxiety or stress. And the most beautiful realization of all, is that of impermanence. This has definitely help me get through a lot ever since I learned about it.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:20 am

      I suppose it’s such a powerful teaching that even second hand it’s life-changing.

      Reply
  • Denise March 5, 2014, 7:46 am

    Sorry to hear about your father :(

    Beautifully written post. Your blog posts remain one of the very few I can read from start to finish as I would do a book, without scanning through them instead.

    Reply
  • Jen March 5, 2014, 8:36 am

    This is such an incredible post Torre. I was totally transfixed reading every word of your experience and felt I could relate in parts. I struggle with anxiety quiet frequently and I find that meditating really helps with this but I don’t do it often enough for it to be 100% effective. I have always wanted to attend a retreat like this but thought it might be too full on for me to handle. After reading this post, I still feel like it is too full on but am more determined than ever to give it a go. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:23 am

      Jen, I hope you give it a go. It’s actually kind of relaxing to be looked after, fed, etc, and not have to worry about other people or daily obligations. What is tough is staying focused on meditation for so many days in a row. Please come back and let me know if/when you do it! Good luck!

      Reply
  • Jan Keeler March 5, 2014, 3:48 pm

    I really enjoy your humor and writing style! Very entertaining AND informative. Keep it up, please!

    Reply
  • Dalene March 6, 2014, 10:06 pm

    This is, hands down, my favourite thing you’ve ever written. :)

    And I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. :(

    Reply
  • Kerry March 7, 2014, 11:47 am

    This sounds like a great experience. I’ve thought about going on this kind of retreat before, but I’ve always been worried I’d bounce out of my skull!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:24 am

      The trouble is you DON’T bounce out of your skull, even if you desperately want to. You’re stuck in there, dammit!

      Reply
  • Millie Noe March 7, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Torre,
    I’m glad I found your site when I was trying to figure out what a blogger was a year and a half ago. Since then I look forward to reading whatever you post or author. You are very funny and very insightful. I’m so sorry that your dad is not in good health. My heart goes out to you.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:25 am

      Thanks so much for your words, Millie. I hope your blog is going well.

      Reply
  • Nick March 9, 2014, 2:48 am

    My mom was in Hospice a couple of years ago…and my grandpa was in a couple of years before that. Somewhere in there, I discovered the “letting go” and peacefulness…the detachment you describe. I’ve been having a great deal of trouble with it these days, going through a very nasty divorce, but am seeking that mindfulness again, making sure to spend (honestly) most of my waking hours outside as weather permits, taking more care with others, being appreciative instead of angry and resentful…

    My main purpose in commenting is really just to extend a feeling of communion maybe…or whatever you’d call: ‘Hey, I’ve been there and I’m really sorry and wish I could help and I hope you get the hugs and attention and loving, calm companionship you need just now and are able to give the same.’

    But I also want to thank you for this timely reminder. I feel calmer and more centered just reading about your experience and its effect on you. Your blog has been a Happy Thing in my life (and with some editing :),) in my children’s lives for some time now…and we all need those.

    Nick

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:27 am

      This is the best comment I have ever had the pleasure of receiving on my blog. I’m so genuinely touched to know my words are a Happy Thing for you and your family. Knowing that makes all the hours I put into this little ol’ blog feel worthwhile. x

      Reply
  • Carmel March 10, 2014, 3:47 am

    Beautifully told story, Torre. Sarah did a killer job with the illustrations. I am amazed that you could endure the retreat, but obviously it was worth whatever discomfort it took.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:28 am

      Thanks. And I agree—Sarah is fantastic!

      I’ve endured worse things that the retreat, like 26 days of open ocean, sailing between Mexico and French Polynesia. :/

      Reply
  • Darcie Watson March 11, 2014, 12:16 am

    Torre’s writing plus Sarah’s illustrations = brilliant! Best thing I’ve seen/read all day.

    Reply
  • Kianna March 11, 2014, 9:16 am

    Torre, I loved this post.
    It’s been 6 months since I went through a tough time and I was just thinking today about how I’m still healing but must remember that I will get over this. Your paragraph about life being an ongoing series of painful moments and happy ones is so TRUE. Thank you for making me smile and feel a little stronger about the future.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:30 am

      So happy to hear that, Kianna. Hang in there and keep on moving forward. All the best to you.

      Reply
  • Patricia Sands March 12, 2014, 7:22 pm

    Bravo, you did it! And it sounds like you are seeing some very worthwhile results. How wonderful to be done with the negativity that can sometimes overwhelm. My sister-in-law (lives in Spain) is going to a retreat that sounds just like this in Portugal. I’ll forward this to her so she think she is going mad the first few days. I’m going to email you so watch for it, please! Hugs!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche March 14, 2014, 6:31 am

      Thanks, Patricia. I got your email and will reply soon. They have these retreats all over the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised if your sister is doing the same one. I hope she enjoys it!

      Reply
  • Tracey March 15, 2014, 8:08 pm

    I seriously need 10 days in a silent meditation retreat! Thanks for the insight.

    Reply
  • Charlie March 15, 2014, 8:29 pm

    I love this! Every mediation class I’ve been to has featured a similar monologue running through my head, and discovering I can sleep while sitting upright against my will – yep, done that too. I always worry these classes are a waste of time or money but it’s later on that I really feel the difference in my mind, my mood and my focus. Could I do it for 10 days though? Probably not. I’m impressed!

    Reply
  • Victoria March 16, 2014, 9:27 pm

    I’ve been waiting for you to write about this! Steve did a vipassana a few years back. His stories are similar. I really hope to do one soon too. I actually tried to book one straight after reading this but they’re all booked up for when I’m free. I will get there soon! Wonderful piece of writing Torre. I’ve missed your stories.

    Reply
  • Kara March 20, 2014, 5:12 pm

    I’ve read a couple of blog posts of post-meditation retreats but this was the only one that actually gave me an idea of what it was like to be there. I particularly liked the description of your encounter with the plants on the property. I’m glad to see your perspective has changed and that the trip had a meaningful impact!

    Reply
  • Pete - Long Term Travel March 25, 2014, 8:48 am

    Always wanted to do one of these!! I just have so much trouble setting the time aside for it, I know it would be great but still I struggle, there’s always so much to do day to day. Great write-up btw, honest which is nice.

    Reply
  • Rachel @ Reality Chick March 27, 2014, 12:35 am

    I’ve toyed with the IDEA of Vipassana for so long, but have never had the guts to do it. (My meditations are filled with random musings like yours in the early days :-)
    Loved your take on it and Sarah’s gorgeous illos.
    Hope your family are holding up okay in regards to your dad, too.
    RX

    Reply
  • Kal March 30, 2014, 6:50 am

    Well, hats off to you for trying Vipassana. It’s something I vowed never to subject myself to although I love meditation and have been doing yoga for thirty years now.
    What I loved about your blog was how you managed to be very funny without running down the practice at all, ending on a very positive note.
    Cheers,

    Reply
  • Nathan March 31, 2014, 7:45 pm

    Thank for detailing such an awesome experience. Definitely going to have to try this.

    Reply
  • Iche March 31, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Hi Torre,

    I am a new reader of your blog and I also went on a vipassana meditation retreat over the holidays last year. The way you write about it is so funny and accurate. I can relate 100%. I agree with you, it is a pretty amazing experience.

    Iche
    San Francisco

    Reply
  • Meghan April 6, 2014, 7:35 am

    Very amusing read – I cracked up at the mention of Buddhist Jerky! :)

    Reply
  • Naomi April 7, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Great blog! A friend sent me the link to yours after reading my own not-dissimilar account of my Voluntary Vipassana incarceration. Mine doesn’t have such cute pictures although it sounds as though we both interpreted the dress code in the same way! So glad to hear it’s having lasting benefits for you, especially through such troubling times.

    Reply
  • Carol Mix June 3, 2014, 4:34 am

    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Wendy June 8, 2014, 5:01 pm

    I will begin my first 10-day next month, and have taken to reading up on other’s experiences – yours has been my favorite by far, and the most entertaining! Loved the accompanying drawings. :)

    Reply