I recently came back from a 10-day meditation retreat where I meditated from 4am till 9pm daily. It was hard but at the same time really awesome. Do carry on reading in order to learn more about my fascinating experience – a mixture of pain, hardship, joy and peace.
10 days in silence: How matter and mind merged before my very eyes
I was never particularly drawn to the idea of spending 10 days in total silence observing nothing but my own respiration and body sensations for the entire period. But here I am in the midst of the New Zealand bush facing 10 days of meditation. I am about to share this “joy” with 60 other people, yet no form of contact between us is permitted: neither physical nor verbal.
Our daily schedule is simple and very much to the point: Get up at 4am and meditate until 9pm only taking breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus the occasional five-minute stretch break. At 9.30pm I am finally in bed and – surprisingly enough – I REALLY need a rest after sitting and doing nothing the entire day!
Well, well… Day 1… this is already much harder than expected… 9 more days to go… why do I have to sit for so long?… where am I going to go on vacation next year?… my mum shouldn’t have sent me to that school… I hope my husband is watering the plants… Thought after thought after thought… Oops! I am here to observe respiration!!! Start again! And again! And again! Day 2 – more of the same except I am catching my thoughts a bit more often. Day 3 – thoughts keep pouring but at least I seem to be accepting it now.
By Day 4 my mind seems to have slowed down and this is when the real fun begins. We are no longer allowed to move or change posture during group meditation sittings. Ouch! But then again, I got this far. I will just sit and watch. After all, this is the very purpose of the process – to become a neutral observer of the reality as it is without reacting to it.
The promise is wonderful: once you achieve a stage where you are not reacting to your own sensations, however pleasant or unpleasant they may be, that should translate into non-reactionary behaviour out there in the real world. Peace and happiness are supposed to prevail. Observation of “self” helps you achieve mastery of your own mind, which is the ultimate goal of the exercise. The sharper the mind becomes, the deeper the observation goes. Gradually, the ego dissolves, the experiential result of which is truly phenomenal – your body no longer feels solid!!
On Day 5 I wake up surprisingly refreshed and start my early morning meditation with a lot of enthusiasm. There is a certain rhythm and flow to the process, yet I am not identifying with it – I am somehow detached, just observing sensations: tingling in my toes, heat in my tummy, pain in my back, itching on my nose, throbbing in my head… Gradually there is a uniform subtle sensation of electric current throughout my whole body. Next thing I know, I am having my first “out of body” experience!!! For a couple of seconds mind and matter merge completely, my body is a mass of vibration, nothing but an enormous mass of vibration!!! Nothing is solid! WOW! From that point on, I was having similar experiences fairly frequently, all the time doing my best to remain neutral. Surprisingly enough, it proved much harder to remain neutral to the pleasant sensations than to the painful ones.
Having first-hand experience of the different vibratory frequencies throughout my own body certainly shifts the level of my practice as a BodyTalker. I have now “seen” how consciousness penetrates and permeates all the solidity. This is no longer something I read about in a book. The new conviction that this experience gives me is bound to be reflected in my BodyTalk practice. My role as a BodyTalk practitioner is to hold mental focus on certain areas in the client’s body while tapping, all the time remaining a neutral observer of the process the client is going through. I could not have chosen a better way to train my mind to do so. These 10 days were hard but definitely well worth the effort, both for the experience itself and also for my life back in the real world. And – no doubt – I will be returning to that meditation retreat on a regular basis.