My mate said, ‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever done’ and I was sold.
I was going to spend 10 days in complete silence on a Vipassana retreat.
Despite having meditated just twice in my life.
I knew I’d made the right choice a few weeks later when I watched a documentary. about the impact of a Vipassana retreat on a group of maximum security prisoners.
If a Vipassana retreat could create such a profound impact on them, imagine what it could do for me… a lost and unfulfilled 9-5er.
The hype was justified.
It changed my life.
The Vipassana Retreat
I was in.
But I hadn’t actually checked to see what I was ‘in’ for until a week before the course started.
I was shocked.
Meditating for 10 hours a day.
No books or TV.
No pen or paper.
No communication with anyone.
Just me and my mind.
For 10 days.
The Challenge of 10 Days in Silence
And to make it even harder I was in the middle of a 6-month mental breakdown filled with panic attacks, anxiety and depression.
Due to high-levels of stress from a toxic work environment and too much partying.
Plus I had a mind filled with problems…
A mind filled with insecurity, fear, anxiety and self-doubt.
Failures and fuck ups.
And a sh*t load of negative emotions.
Including guilt and shame for the things I wish I’d done differently.
All the sh*t you REALLY don’t want to face at the best of times, let alone when you’re going through a battle with anxiety and depression.
But despite my mental health issues.
Despite being a novice meditator.
My mate’s words were ringing in my ears.
‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever done’.
So I set my intention….
‘This is going to be the best thing I’VE ever done’.
The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done
It was, and still is after 13 years, THE BEST THING I’ve ever done because it completely changed the trajectory of my life.
Because despite the seemingly bleak and intense picture I’ve painted of what I’d committed to doing for 10 days there were numerous moments of pure joy and happiness.
Times where I felt so at peace and at ease with myself, it was like I was floating from one moment to the next.
Moments where it felt like someone had given me a new pair of eyes to see the world.
What became incredibly clear was how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin.
How disconnected from myself I’d become and how deeply insecure and unhappy I was.
All of which I’d become highly adept at masking from both myself and others.
Digging Out the Sh*t Stuff
I had been burying all my negative thoughts, emotions and experiences deep down.
Out of sight.
Out of mind.
But over the course of 10 days I got to see inside myself.
I got to see all the sh*t that lay buried beneath the surface.
And as the days went on I began to perform a deep surgical operation on my mind that would begin to root out my negative-thoughts, emotions and experiences that I’d stuffed away.
Some of the toughest operations were the sessions of ‘strong determination‘.
Sessions where you sit perfectly still for an hour, not even moving to scratch an itch or open your mouth.
It would feel easy for a while, but then the discomfort starts to emerge, increasing from moment to moment.
A discomfort that feels like your body is screaming at you to move.
A discomfort that gets so intense as the minutes roll on it’s as if someone is standing by your ear screaming into a megaphone…
Your mind and body screaming at you to quit.
To run away.
To sack this painful sh*t off, pack your bags and go home.
But if you can find the inner strength to watch…
To sit there perfectly still without reacting…
Watching story after story from your life play out like a movie in your mind, while you experience an immense amount of pain both physical and emotional.
You notice the experience begin to change.
The Shift To Freedom
The intensity subsides and the pain you’re experiencing begins to dissipate.
And you feel like you’ve unburdened yourself of the baggage you’ve been carrying round for months.
Through this letting go you find a sense of peace because you’re rooting out your painful memories, stories and emotions that have been locked up inside.
The negative self-talk.
The shame and guilt.
The failures and f*©k ups.
But if you can get through these moments of what feels like mental torture, it’s like getting a new pair of glasses.
A pair of glasses that gives you the ability to see your life with a new perspective.
A new mind filled with lessons and insights as to who you were, who you are and who you want to become.
One of the most powerful lessons from doing this inner work is that embracing your pain can ultimately lead to freedom and inner peace.
But it takes courage.
And when you are courageous you are rewarded with an experience and a practice that can fundamentally change your life.
These 10 days CHANGED MY LIFE.
Meditation CHANGED MY LIFE.
And I believe it can change yours too.
How Vipassana Changed My Life
Vipassana catapulted me into a journey of self-healing, self-discovery and self-development.
Meditation gave me the skills to process my grief and to work through anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
It gave me the ability to manage my emotions, cope with stress during a high-pressured career in TV and to support myself through a marriage breakdown.
As well as helping me learn how to deal with the sh*t stuff that life throws at you.
Meditation has been an been incredible tool in helping me to build self-discipline, self-love and self-confidence.
As a result I’ve taken charge of my mental, physical and emotional health.
I went on to become a qualified meditation and yin yoga teacher under the tutelage of world-renowned teachers.
And a Mind Performance Coach learning the skills of NLP, Hypnosis and Time-Line Therapy.
As well as immersing myself in self-development content.
This 10-day journey into my mind sparked an inner transformation that has taking me on a life-long journey to create a better version of me and a better life.
Just do it.
Joe : )
Curious to learn how to meditate?