One Infinite Life
December 8, 2014
 
I meditated for 100 hours in 10 days, and this is what I learnt... http://oneinfinitelife.com/vipassana-meditation-retreat/
 
I’m sitting in the meditation hall. The silence is deafening. I can hear my own heart beating. My back is aching. Tears are streaming down my face. Every single part of me wants to get up and run far away from this place and never come back. I find myself wondering what I’m doing here and my mind wanders to the events that led me here…

It all began a few months before, when I started reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – a total  life-changing read.

The idea of presence and mindfulness was revolutionary for me, but I was having difficulty bringing more presence into my daily life.

Then I read Tara’s incredible post about her Vipassana experience.

Honestly I was bedazzled that anyone would willingly subject themselves to 100 hours of meditation in 10 days.

However, contradictorily every atom in my body told me that I was going to go to a Vipassana meditation retreat.

So this time last year I found myself at a retreat, sitting in the meditation hall wondering how I got there.

Those 10 days were the most challenging and intense of my life, but they were also very rewarding and transformative.

I went to the retreat hoping that by immersing myself in 10 days of silence and stillness would help me bring more presence and mindfulness into my every day life, but honestly I left learning so much more, that still influences me in my life today.

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Here are 17 things I learnt at a Vipassana mediation retreat:

 

1. A really beautiful meditation technique. 

One that I still incorporate into my meditation practice today.

 

2. I wasn’t ‘bad’ at meditating. 

Even though I meditated regularly before the retreat, it used to be a huge struggle for me. I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t stop my thoughts. At this retreat I learnt that meditating wasn’t about stopping your thoughts, it is about becoming the silent observer of your thoughts and detaching from them. This was revolutionary for me.

 

3. Presence.

I don’t think you can ‘learn’ to be present, however I do believe that practice does help. Immersing myself in this retreat allowed me to come home and be more present in my everyday life.

 

4. To be more mindful. 

I used to multi-task a lot and often I wasn’t consciously aware of things I was doing as I was too busy focusing on something else. I couldn’t even watch a movie without scrolling through my Instagram feed at least a few times. This retreat helped me start being more mindful in my daily life.

 

5. How to just be.

Before this retreat, I could never just be. However, with no form of entertainment for 10 days I learnt how to just do nothing, and I found that it was incredibly enjoyable.

 

6. Nature is peaceful and calming. 

I realised how much I loved just being outside in nature at this retreat. The centre I went to was in the middle of the bush so the grounds were full of trees and wildlife. One day I watched a single lady bug crawling over the grass for 45 minutes, and it was in that moment that I realised how content I was just being in nature.

 

7. Everything is impermanent.

Impermanence refers to that everything always changing and nothing ever stays the same. Reminding myself “this will change” helps me to surrender and just go with whatever it is I’m experiencing, even if I don’t want to be experiencing it. This has also been revolutionary for my anxiety.

 

8. To respond rather than react. 

We often go through our day reacting to everything that is going on around us. By responding instead of reacting life flows way better, is calmer and has a sense of ease. I also have found that communication is better when I respond to someone, rather than reacting.

 

9. Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 

This whole experience was very outside my comfort zone and meditating for 10 hours a day is mentally difficult and honestly physically painful as well. This is something that still helps me in my daily life today.

 

10. To let go of the things that weren’t serving me. 

I came home and really simplified my life and questioned how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I now watch less tv, multi-task less (and mono-task more), buy less stuff, declutter frequently and fill my days with simple things that bring me joy.

 

11. Surrender. 

Embracing and accepting whatever I am experiencing has had a profound influence on my life. I now go with the ebb and flow more now and find it to be much more satisfying and less stressful than trying to resist, avoid or control what I’m experiencing.

 

12. How to embrace being alone. 

As an introvert I am aware that I need a lot of alone time but I used to resist it a lot. Ever since this retreat I have been really conscious of the fact that spending time by myself is how I recharge and rejuvenate. So now, I completely embrace, appreciate and revel in alone time

 

13. How to hold space for other people. 

To be present and listen deeply and intently to someone else. And not worry about what I need to (or should) say next and instead just hold space for someone else. I now try to listen more than I talk and have realised how much more my connections with others have deepened by using this approach.

 

14.  I’m a lot stronger than I think I am. 

By day 2 I did not know how I was going to make it to the end of the retreat. I even planned how I would escape (dramatic I know), but I did get through it, which made me realise that I’m so stronger than I think I am and that we all are.

 

15. Always be patient and persistent.

I carry this with me everyday. And I can still here Goneka’s voice saying “be patient and persistent”. I remind myself of this often when I’m working towards something, trying to make a change or doing something challenging.

 

16. Happiness comes from within. 

I thought I already knew this, but I came to truly and deeply believe this at the retreat. I realised that despite what was going on at anytime, I could choose to be happy if I wanted to.

 

17. Question it all. 

One of the most profound influences this experience had on me and my life was that it made me question everything about myself and my life such as… Who I am. Who I want to be in this life. What I believe to be true. What I don’t believe. What I want more of. What I don’t want more of.  

And I still continue to question it all to this day.

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As you can gather from my lessons above, this truly was a life-changing experience for me.

If you are interested in finding out more about Vipassana meditation retreats you can do that here.

Now I would love to hear from you: Have you ever been to a meditation retreat? If you haven’t would you ever go to one? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.

Love & Gratitude,

One Infinite Life

PS. You might also like: 33 of the best things I ever did.

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I meditated for 100 hours in 10 days, and this is what I learnt... http://oneinfinitelife.com/vipassana-meditation-retreat/

  • http://chelseaantman.com Chelsea

    Beautiful Chloe, your words resonated with me so much. The times when I pause and enquire within I also notice the deafening silence, hearing my heart beating, and the desire to run. It always makes me wonder what it is I’m running from and what is so scary about simply being with myself. It forces you to deal with the ‘icky’ feelings. The ones we try to squash down when life’s too busy to “feel”. I am in awe of your courage to sit with the discomfort and for 100 hours!! So brave. What an incredibly enriching experience that would have been.

    I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for over ten years but it’s something I struggle to do in the times when I really need to! I have always wanted to go on a retreat. In fact I was thinking of doing a “Silent Retreat” in India. “The Power Of Now” was such a fabulous book. I am currently reading “The Art Of Meditation” By Matthieu Riccard.

    Thankyou for sharing what you learned. I have no doubt that this was a life-changing experience, one you will take with you for years to come.

    Love Chelsea xxx

    • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe Wigan

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here Chelsea. Honestly the 100 hours of meditation were so intense but incredible at the same time! A silent retreat in India sounds amazing. I found immersing myself in this retreat really helped me to be more mindful in my daily life – even a year later! I haven’t read The Art of Meditation but it sounds interesting, I will have to check it out 🙂

  • http://mindfulmealsblog.com/ Lauren

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve always been so curious about what vipassana is actually like. I’ve had a regular meditation practice for a few years but it still feels nerve-wracking to think of 10 days of silence (that probably means it’s something I have to try at somepoint in my life!). I’m in the middle of The Power of Now – I’ve needed to read it slowly to really digest it.

    • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe Wigan

      Thanks for your comment Lauren. I totally know where you are coming from, the though of doing 10 days of silence scared me so much but I just knew it was something I had to do! The Power of Now completely changed how I see the world, are you enjoying it? Oh and I know what you mean, I also had to read it really slowly!

  • Emma-Jane Watson

    Hello Chloe, funny enough I have just completed a free two day silent retreat south of Melbourne. The silent part was easy as I’m hearing impaired and used to silence. BUT it was the meditation side that got me. Even after 4.5yrs of my Reiki healing journey I still fight and get angry. Due to not hearing when I close my eyes really stirs me. Maybe one day I will find a way that it won’t affect me. My Reiki Master has done loads of meditation and this word was used – Vipassana but would need to dig them out to remind myself. I love the healing journey and have made it to my Master level and have numerous times been in the spot where I want to run for the door. Instead I hear my teacher saying it is what most people want – so I stayed! retreats are good but a 10 day one I would be crawling up the walls….

    • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe | One Infinite Life

      Wow, Emmma! Thank you for sharing this. It’s super interesting to hear another person’s perspective on meditation. I know for myself, I have wanted to run for the door countless times! Good on you for staying even though you wanted to run. Truth be told, 10 days was incredible intense, but I’m also really glad I did it.

  • http://livebelieverelax.com/ Kate

    Wow thank you for sharing your experience Chloe!
    I have a tendency to react instead of responding as well, so this would bring up all sorts of emotions just on that haha.
    I’ve just hopped onto the site and have seen there are a few one day courses in SA I might check out in the new year.

    • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe | One Infinite Life

      My pleasure Kate, I’m thrilled you got something out of it. I think that so many of us struggle with reacting instead of responding. It’s something I try to be very conscious about.

      That’s awesome as that you’re considering doing a one day course, I’m excited for you! And honestly it’s super challenging, but SO rewarding.

      If you have any questions about Vipassana or my experience don’t hesitate to ask, you know where to find me 😉

  • http://www.ydeyoga.com Andressa Vieira

    I’m going to my first Vipassana retreat next week! Feeling anxious about it, but happy I’m doing this.

    • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe | One Infinite Life

      This is SO exciting Andressa. I know exactly how you feel — and I felt the same way before going to my retreat. I huge tip for you is to not go into the retreat with huge expectations on what you’re going to get out of it. I know the people who did that in my group were hugely disappointed, and the ones who didn’t have expectations seemed to have a better experience. I hope that your experience is what you need it to be Andressa 🙂
      PS. Also know that it’s totally okay and normal if it’s incredibly hard! Especially the first few days.

  • http://www.oneinfinitelife.com/ Chloe | One Infinite Life

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with Vipassana here Silvia. I also found it to have an incredible effect on my life. Even though it’s been a few years since my retreat I still find myself benefiting from what I learnt and the meditation technique every single day.

    PS. The Power of Now is such an incredible book ?