Vipassana Meditation: Is It Worth It?
After an intense awakening a few years ago, I coincidentally found out about Vipassana meditation and, without a second thought, I submitted my application. As someone told me during my course, I didn’t find Vipassana, it found me. Our soul journey is not predetermined, but there are certain experiences that life gives you no choice but to embark on. I found multiple articles out there, elaborating on the practicalities of Vipassana, and offering step-by-step explanations on how this course would unfold. I read enough about it before my journey. In retrospect, none of these articles could possibly describe my own path of life, my Dharma.
Initially, I submitted my application hoping that, through intense meditation and absolute silence, I could finally start my healing process and liberate myself of all suffering. I was determined to let go of all my personal history, childhood trauma, and, once and for all, bring pure light into my life. I suffered from severe Complex-PTSD, the product of being born in a former communist country, experiencing the aftermath of a civil war, finding refuge in a new country, which opened doors to new levels of trauma and racism. Along with this, being raised in physically abusive and neglectful circumstances, as well as experiencing sexual assault at a very sensitive age, contributed to significant impairments in my personal relationships, sense of identity, and, subsequently, my quality of life. Bringing along the baggage of my traumatic personal history, and unaware of how my nervous system could possibly react to extreme isolation, I felt overwhelmed and terrified by the idea. At the same time, the hope of liberating myself from all this trauma was so invigorating that I couldn’t wait.
“Early stress causes changes in the brain that reset the immune system so that either you no longer respond to stress or you respond in an exacerbated way and can’t shut off that stress response.” (Childhood Distributed, Donna Jackson Nakazawa)
It takes time and effort to heal from trauma.It takes even longer to arrive at a point of acceptance. When I arrived at what I call “the gates of my awakening,” all of my life tumbled down. I reached a point of no return, and I had to take the leap and choose myself for once, be on my team, and believe in my power to heal and let go of toxic people in my life. Around that time, I ran across Vipassana meditation while looking for a gateway through volunteer work. I am not sure why I applied, but I did so without a second thought.
Limit your expectations
I took the opportunity, believing that Vipassana was my salvation and would heal me permanently. It is not easy to approach this retreat without any expectations, but I would advise each and every one of you to embark on this journey with an open mind and an open heart. Allow yourself to experience and embrace this journey without judgment, expectations, and comparisons. It is easy to get carried away by what others have gone through during their course and expect the same. The truth is that Vipassana doesn’t change you or shape you in a different way. You give life and light to the practice of this technique. Your dedication and devotion towards the self on this awakening journey is what will give life to your Vipassana practice.
Know your why
You can use the practice of journaling by writing down the reasons you want to go through this intense course. This will keep you afloat and focused during your time at the retreat. Some people quit halfway, many more on the second day. Sometimes the practice is too intense, thoughts and emotions become overwhelming. There are no winners and losers in Vipassana. It is not a race. According to teachers, people that commit to their Vipassana course are supposed to finish it. Regardless of the circumstances, they will attend at least one course in their lifetime. Looking at my personal experience I can definitely understand what is meant by this. On the third day of my course, I sprained my foot badly. The pain was so severe that I passed out for the first time in my life. It happened while I was exiting the meditation hall. During the last meditation of the day, I couldn’t stop my thoughts and feelings from flooding me. I was swallowed by emotions of hatred, pain, and misery. I was angry at everyone and anyone that had ever hurt me, I was angry at myself and my life.
When I was transferred to my room, I spent a good amount of time crying out of anger, dwelling on how unlucky and cursed I was. I felt hopeless and ready to accept that this is the way my life would perpetually be. It felt like I had to quit life. Then, it suddenly hit me. All I had achieved, lying there during this first hour following my injury, was manifesting more pain, misery, and despair. I could finally understand what Vipassana was there to teach me. This would lead me to rediscover my eternal power as a light-being. No matter how bruised and swollen my foot was, that pain became my best friend, my reminder, my salvation.
I was determined to reconnect and reintroduce myself to my SELF. Every hour after that, I felt lighter and lighter. The anger turned to forgiveness, forgiveness turned to compassion, and compassion to LOVE. I experienced self-love for the first time in my life, I heard my own voice for the first time. I became best friends with my EGO.
Do the work
This is the most important component of Vipassana: integrating your new self into your old life. You must understand that there is no old life. You are letting go of your personal history and training yourself to be at peace in the present moment. After going back to your responsibilities and old habits following the end of the retreat, you will have to figure out what is essential and what needs to go. Don’t fight this process. Instead, let it unfold naturally, without intervention.
Vipassana is not a magic pill, it is not a spell or the key to fixing all of your problems. It is an amazing tool to bring you back to your center. From there, you have to take the lead. Continue your healing process, be devoted to yourself, and dedicate enough time every day to your inner sanctum and your needs. Vipassana helps you rewrite your own amendments, eliminating the voices and belief systems of the past. It guides you through the first steps of your awakening and equips you with a tool that can bring you back to your center every time you feel lost or overwhelmed. In essence, you choose how far and how deep you want your journey to be.
May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated
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