When I stumbled across the Dhamma Khetta Vipassana Meditation Centre in Hyderabad I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never meditated before in fact I didn’t really know what meditation was, I’ve had neck/back/shoulder pain since I can remember + my mental state wasn’t great yet there was something in me that thought it would be great. I remember mentioning to my sister what I was planning to do + her words “I couldn’t think of anything worse, why would you want to do that!” Perhaps it was someone challenging me that I’d hate it, perhaps it was synchronicity of a year previously I had been travelling solo around Sri Lanka + I had looked into doing a meditation course but had been scared off- namely because I didn’t know how to meditate. Perhaps it was because I was accepted + that gave me encouragement…?
Whatever it was I did it.
To give you an overview of 10 days silent meditation, when you first arrive you are asked to sign the Code of Discipline or precepts;
- Abstain from killing any being (harder than you think when you clean your own room each morning sweeping up ants + spiders)
- Abstain from stealing
- Abstain from all sexual activity
- Abstain from telling lies
- Abstain from all intoxicants
On top of this there is the noble silence of body, speech + mind- no gestures, eye contact, music, reading, writing etc. Separation of men + women, no physical contact, yoga or exercise, cameras etc. Basically shutting out the world!
Each day is structured as follows;
4:00 am Morning wake-up bell (nothing like a cold bucket shower to wake you up!)
4:30-6:30 am 2 hr meditation
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break (hot bucket shower if you’re lucky!)
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall, room or cell
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and chance to speak with the teacher to clarify any of the teachings
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall, room or cell
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break of chai, popcorn or puffed rice (no ‘food’ after midday)
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation
9:00-9:30 pm Question time
9:30 pm Retire to room–Lights out
The 10 days are broken up with the first 3 days dedicated to anapana (awareness of breath) + the additional 7 to vipassana (awareness of sensations). Throughout the 10 days you battle with your mind, your bod, your determination + your sanity! But when you reach day 9 + you ‘break the silence’ you feel completely different. Your senses are heightened, you feel an inner peace + real happiness (at least I did!) Partly from completing the course + partly from the 10 hours a day of meditating/training the mind.
Everyone’s experience will be different- some people have outer body experiences, some experience full ‘flow’ of sensations throughout the body + some simply can’t handle it + leave. My experience was unique in that I was expecting my period during the 10 days + during a mid-morning meditation on about the 5th or 6th day I had an excruciatingly itchy/painful sensation inside my right aim. Adhering to the practise I didn’t react to the sensation, open my eyes or scratch my arm despite the humorous agony I was encountering. When the meditation came to an end I looked down at my arm + despite there being nothing there I could still feel the sensation- it was so strong I felt I had to have a shower to wash/cleanse myself from the feeling. So I did. On my way back to the meditation hall I stopped to go to the bathroom + discovered I had my period. Whether the two things were related I’ll never know but I feel that the connection between my body + the signals it was sending my mind were an example of how iN TUNE I was. This is something we’re not tuned into enough in life- we’re too busy, tired, stressed to connect + listen to our bodies.
Would I recommend doing a 10 day course? 100% it changed my life + helped me understand the power of meditation. Do I still meditate? That’s for another post. But without a doubt it will be the most challenging, physically + mentally training yet rewarding things you’ll ever do but also extremely fulfilling, peaceful + happy- real inner happiness things you’ll even do.