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Old 07-29-2017, 09:38 PM   #1
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Lightbulb DON'T ITCH THAT NOSE! A Meditation Dynasty

Hi guys, long time.

I started meditating at the beginning of this year. 5 minutes here, 15 minutes at most there. I was pretty successful and missed 3 sessions in 7 months. Not too shabby. I decided to strap down and try a Vipassana Meditation 10 Day Course after hearing rave reviews. Twenty Nine Palms, CA sounded perfect.

The course is taught by S. N. Goenka. If anyone is interested, you can find additional information HERE. It was pretty hard-core as you'll soon find out.

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Old 07-29-2017, 09:40 PM   #2
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
I'll write a little here and there, so as not to make these status updates ridiculously long.
In short, my Meditation Retreat was emotional, physically and mentally painful, and easily the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
So what's involved in a Vipassana Meditation Retreat? A few really strict rules. They're stickler for these rules, so we had to follow them pretty closely:

- No speaking, or any kind communication (including gestures, sign language, etc)
- No looking at other students in the eye (this was really hard for me, I love looking at people's faces and showing my pearly whites. This was tremendously challenging for me)
- No reading or writing
- You must meditate for at least 10 hours every day
- Food is pretty restricted. Breakfast, Lunch, and "dinner" was fruit and tea.
- Clothing: they were real, real sticklers here. If we wore tights, shirts had to be loose and go to mid-thigh, otherwise we were asked to change (or put a scarf to cover the butt to mid-thigh area). No shorts or capris. Pants should be relatively loose to make it easy for meditation.

The schedule was pretty much wake up, meditate, rest (they prefer us not to sleep during this time, but this time can be used for walking or cleaning, which I did both. It was pretty easy to get 15K steps daily) and eat. Woke up at 4am and lights out at 10pm. Breakfast ended at about 7:15am, lunch at about 11:45am, and "dinner" at 4:45pm (this one I remembered lol). This last part had me really, really nervous. Last meal at 4:45pm and lights out at 10pm? HOW WILL I SURVIVE WITH NO FOOD FOR OVER 5 HOURS?!

Day 0 - Registration
Time to give up our phones and any valuables (*gasp*). Some people had their own room, others had roommates. I had a roommate. I found out later that they usually put all the youngins in the dorm, and us older folks got our own room. Not sure why I got lumped in with the youngins, but it was actually pretty nice. It was 8 of us and we shared 3 toilets and 2 showers. We had a sign up sheet and I seemed to be the only person to sign up for a shower at 4am for this one particular shower.

So this would be my view for the next 12 days.
#pictureoftheday #timefordeepreflection #MyTenDayVipassanaMeditationRetreat #desertbeauty #justmemyselfandi

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Old 07-29-2017, 09:41 PM   #3
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Continuation of my journey at the Vipassana Center...

Forgot to mention yesterday that at registration, I requested a chair for so I'm able to meditate, somewhat more comfortably. I bought a meditation cushion, specifically for the retreat, but noticed that it didn't help. I actually practiced meditating on the cushion (for 5 minutes at a time. Five minutes to prepare for 2 hours of meditation at a time, hahaha) but quickly realized that it didn't help at all. On the contrary, while practicing, my hip started hurting. And even now, it still hurts. Anyway, I asked if I could get a chair and they said I'd have to speak to the Resident Manager. I'm 42 years old, I have a bad hip and my knees are pretty shot. If I sat and meditated for 10 hours + a day, I wouldn't be able to walk for a long while. I eventually spoke to the Resident Manager and she wrote my name down.

At about 8:00 pm or so, they started calling names at the Meditation Hall and gave us our spot. Every spot had a big cushion with a small pillow for our buttocks. I was given a spot and a chair, to see which was more comfortable. I chose the chair. I was right in front of the door, so I had a pretty good view of everything. Females were on one side, and males on the other. I'd say about 90 people in 1 room, plus the Assistant Teachers. The meditation started with with a recording of S. N. Goenka chanting. I've never experienced anything like this, so the chanting took a little getting used to. I think we meditated for about half an hour. We walked out and I said excitedly, "Wow, that was pretty cool!" No one said anything. I guess they started practicing Noble Silence right away. Fine, I get the hint lol.

Day 1
First day of Noble Silence. No communication of any kind. No looking at each other, no physical contact, nothing like that. It was really interesting sharing a space with 7 other ladies and not looking at their faces. We shared 3 sinks, so sometimes 5 of us were there to brush our teeth at the same time. If I had a sink, I'd step aside and let someone else use it. Others did the same for me. All the while, without looking at each other's eyes. Always looking down.

The schedule, roughly:
4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room--Lights out

This is what's on their website, but the formal schedule is a tad bit different. Maybe tea and fruit was at 5:45 and not 4:45. Hmm...

Anyway, for breakfast we had pretty much the same thing: oatmeal, some kind of rehydrated fruit (could have been prunes, not sure) marinated in some kind of light syrup with cinnamon sticks and sliced oranges. Cornflakes, granola, yogurt and Ezekiel bread. Butter, jelly, tahini, peanut putter and Smart Balance for our toast. Raisins, sunflower seeds and fruit (mostly bananas, apples, oranges, and peaches). We had whole fat milk, 2% milk, rice milk and almond milk. Very vegan friendly. We had 8 different teas to choose from.

Eating breakfast on the first day of Noble Silence was quite the experience. I've had all this food before, but it tasted different. We all sat in silence and just ate. We sat there and enjoyed, I mean REALLY enjoyed our food. Without distractions. Wait, you mean cereal with raisins and bananas actually have a taste? Normally I eat at my desk at work. Or in front of the tv while watching Breaking Bad, or something. You can't really taste food that way. So there we sat. We ate slowly and enjoyed every spoonful. We all had tea, too. Anthony asked if I brought anything back from the retreat, what would it be? Tea. Definitely tea. We all made it a habit to drink tea after our meals. It was like a sign to our tummies that we're finished. So yes, I do have tea for at least 1 of my meals.

This post is getting a little bit longer than I had anticipated. Lunch was also really yummy. All vegetarian or vegan with the ocassional gluten free meal. I can't recall what we had when, but one of the days we had Penne Pasta and the sauce had lentils and spinach. Man that was good. I always had a salad with their crack Sunflower Soy Dressing. Man, that stuff was insanely good. I always added chickpeas. We had our choice of white or brown rice. I always had brown rice. Always ended my meal with tea.

So this is the Walking Path I was on every single day. Little did I know that this path would not only provide exercise, but much contemplation and deep realizations that brought me to tears several times.

#pictureoftheday #herewegoletsdothis #walkthisway

Also, if anyone is interested in the Daily Discourse, I'll post them here, too.

This is the discourse on Day 1. - 10 Day Vipassana Course - Day 1 (English) - YouTube

Shoot, I almost forgot. The discourse for day 1 kind of scared me. Goenka said that there were things that needed to come up to the surface if we were to learn this path. Things that have been embedded deep that have been blocking us from moving forward. Shit. I really don't want this stuff coming up, it's too painful. But they did. And I cried. Several times.

Last edited by Dodgerchick : 07-29-2017 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 07-29-2017, 09:43 PM   #4
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Day 2

I woke up at 3:45am, 15 minutes before the bell. I get out of bed, gather my clothes and make my way to the Lady's Room. I grab my container of toilettries and jump in the shower. By 4:20am, I had already done my bed, cleaned the shower (walls with Vinegar Solution and floor with Comet and a brush) and was ready for 2 hours of meditation.

I take a seat and look around. It's pretty amazing that we're all up and ready for meditation so early in the morning. I close my eyes and focus on breath. Is it deep? Is it shallow? Does it go in the right nostril? Left nostril, or both nostrils? Notice the outside of the nostrils, below the nostrils and upper lip. Like a good student I focus on the triangle area of my nose, like Goenka instructed. Breathe. Hmm.. my stomach's grumbling. What should I have for breakfast? That fruit stuff was pretty good. FOCUS! Breathe in, breathe out. It's recommended that we don't use mantras, focus on shapes, words, nothing. Just breath and what is. I focus on breath again. The air is going through both nostrils evenly. I wonder if the girl next to me is a right nostril, left nostril girl or both? Man, it's cold in here, I should have brought my blanket. I really like that blanket...LORENA, FOCUS DAMMIT!!! So that goes on for the whole 2 hours. Then the bell. Time for breakfast.

I grab a bowl and a spoon and get some cornflakes. Grab a banana, put the peel in the compost container, place my nanner on the cutting board and slice it thin. Put a spoonful of raisins and make my way towards the bread. There's a few of us waiting, so I grab 2 slices of bread and wait. One of the girls grabs her toast and I go through the traffic of women making their way around the buffet area. I stop as a woman wants to go around me, and take a step back. Since we couldn't communicate, that was our way of letting each other know who has the right-of-way. It was kind of like a dance - head all the way down, step back and they go on their merry way. I butter my bread and put a bit of jam. Man, that stuff was good. Add a spoonful of jam on my cereal, too. My mom used to put jelly on my cereal, so I think of her. I grab the rice milk and add a bit to my cereal. Hmm.. where to sit? I just sit anywhere. I looked around and everyone is eating their breakfast... slowly. Sit an enjoy. I look out the window and am in awe of the view. Gorgeous desert mountains. Man I miss those. Time for tea. I sit and sip my tea slowly and enjoy. I finish eating and grab a napkin, wet it and clean my area. I'm not a slob or anything, but if I can make someone else's job easier, 10 seconds of a quick wipe will make someone else's job a little easier.
I grab my water bottle and make my way to the Walking Trail. It's about 7:15 and it's warm already. Man, this trail has a bit of an incline. I make it to the top of the trail and there's a sitting area. I take a seat and take in the beautiful scenery in front of me. I'm there for about 5 minutes, get up and take another lap. Walk, don't run.

Fast forward to the meditation before the daily discourse. Same thing as earlier, I focus on breath and my mind goes all over the place. Dammit, I can't focus. It's frustrating. Meditation over and we take a quick break.

This discourse would prove helpful in my mediation journey. Goenka reassures us that even though our minds wander, we will conquer. Be patient. Patiently and persistently. He said something that completely blew my mind. "The breath that goes in is cooler than the breath that goes out." What??? My index finger goes immediately under my nostrils. Breathe in... yup cool. Breathe out... warm. WTF?! I BREATHE EVERY DAY, HOW DID I NOT NOTICE?! I guess I needed someone to point it out. He says there are biochemical reactions all over our body. A tingle, a tickle, a prickle, warmth, cold, pressure, so many sensations. Sensations where there's life. He says if we feel an itch, don't itch it. Just observe, do nothing. No itching is eternal. Observe without reacting. Discomfort is impermanent. He also said not to harm ourselves or others. If we harm others, we are actually harming ourselves. It's a very profound talk. At the end of the discource Goenka chants "Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam" (May all beings be happy). The old students chant back "Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu" (so be it, so be it, so be it). New students can, if they want to, but there's only a few who chant back. We take a short break.

I go outside and notice the amazingly gorgeous sunset. Hues of red and blue all up in the mountains. The sun starts hiding behind the mountains. Oh those desert sunsets, how I missed them.

Back to the Meditation Hall and I'm eager to meditate. Recorder plays and it's Goenka chanting. Chant over and I concentrate on breath. Breath in... cool. Breath out... warm. Yup. Do I have shallow breaths or deep breaths? Or are they just breaths? I breathe in and feel the air making it's way up my nose. Breathe out and it's warm. I feel it touching my nostrils. My upper lip now feels the warm air. I'm completely fascinated. No thoughts enter my mind. The half hour went really fast. This new knowledge is groundbreaking.
The picture below is the seating area I was known to take after every meal. It was almost a given - Beautiful sunsets, sunrises, me on this spot, and my trusty water bottle (bottom right).

#justobserve #patientlyandpersistently #pictureoftheday #bestseatinthehouse

I should note that the only time we could communicate was when we had questions for our teachers or resident manager. Otherwise... zip.

Day 2 discourse - 10 Day Vipassana Course - Day 2 (English) - YouTube
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Old 07-29-2017, 09:44 PM   #5
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Hmm... I'm out of practice, I forgot how to post pictures. Maybe they're too big? I'll see if I can figure it out.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:57 AM   #6
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
I meditated for a half hour yesterday since my retreat (last day on July 23). I was a little concerned that the sensations I felt during my time there would disappear. At least, that's what an old student said. Nope, still there. Pressure on my hairline, middle of my forehead, a little prickle on my leg, a tickle on my face... yup. Still there. I have noticed, that my patience is not where it was when I first got out. I see why they say practice is important. They say 2 hours, but I don't know where I can find 2 hours in my schedule, that's a lot.

Last edited by Dodgerchick : 07-30-2017 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 08-06-2017, 10:23 PM   #7
General Manager
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: The Satellite of Love
10 full days of no one being allowed to talk to me and me not having to talk to anyone else...that sounds wonderful to me.
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:51 AM   #8
Head Coach
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Seven miles up
I've been a proponent of meditation for a long time. I've used it to fall asleep without knowing that's what I was really doing. I've used it to prepare for sports in high school and for big job interviews. All with success. Until recently I decided that I wanted to try something more formal and see what my results will be. So I downloaded an app called Insight Timer and finally tried it out today.

I got through 20 minutes pretty easily. An hour seems like a lot, no idea how you do 10 in one day or even 2. That is hard core. Wow.
He's just like if Snow White was competitive, horny, and capable of beating the shit out of anyone that called her Pops.

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Old 02-18-2019, 08:37 PM   #9
College Benchwarmer
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Originally Posted by PilotMan View Post
I've been a proponent of meditation for a long time. I've used it to fall asleep without knowing that's what I was really doing. I've used it to prepare for sports in high school and for big job interviews. All with success. Until recently I decided that I wanted to try something more formal and see what my results will be. So I downloaded an app called Insight Timer and finally tried it out today.

I got through 20 minutes pretty easily. An hour seems like a lot, no idea how you do 10 in one day or even 2. That is hard core. Wow.

omg, i love that app! When I started "practicing", that's the app I used. I went 250 days straight with at least 5 minutes of mediation. The break was, ironically, when I mediated for 10 hours a day. They took away our phones (well, they forgot mine, but I didn't use it), so there was a gap of 10 days. 10 days where I meditated for at least 100 hours.

Damn, that's insane to read. 100 hours of mediation brings you into the real world buzzing. No, for real. That's how I felt. I guess sort of like a very light, mild alcohol buzz, but I felt so many sensations on my body. I didn't feel anger, sadness, overwhelming hapiness... it just.... was. It's so hard to explain. I really need to practice again, I miss feeling that. I'm letting too many things affect me right now.
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