On the Tenth Day of Vipassana, the Silence Said to Me

Vipassana Meditation Hall (Dhamma Sacca)

Ten Days of Vipassana

Day 1: Digital Detox

One of the requirements to begin the retreat is to hand in your devices (and books, and journals) to be locked in a box until the end of the ten days.

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

Day 2: A Sharpening of the Senses

Within the first two days, I became much more observant and trusting of my senses to understand what was happening around me.

Image from rawpixel.com

Day 3: Entering Hyper-Reality

The effect of meditating for over ten hours a day, for ten days, being away from the usual distractions, and observing Noble Silence created a heightened sense of reality. Being so concentrated on your internal experience intensifies your senses and your perception of them. Smells, sights, and sounds became much more prominent. I felt more appreciative of the gentle gifts from the surroundings — the waft of a rosemary bush, the circling of an occasional hawk, the glimmer of a tiny camouflaged lizard moving in the shade. I spent rest breaks deeply examining the trees, mosses, and the various ant colonies along the walking path, marvelling at how they were all driven by their internal subterranean logic.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

Day 4: Loss of Self-Consciousness

In the beginning, the silence feels awkward, as if we were imposing it on ourselves and each other. A few days in, this awkwardness disappears, and it’s simply accepted as the reality.

Image by Alberto Sanchez from Pixabay

Day 5: Forbearance Saves Your Sanity

It doesn’t take long (certainly not until Day 5) before your newly sharpened senses pick up on things that you might not actually want to be noticing. The wheezing of someone’s blocked nose next to you in the meditation hall; the snoring of your bunkmate in the middle of the night, disturbing your short and precious sleep; the clang of the morning gong at 4 am. Yes, it’s time to get up again. Yes, you really have committed yourself to this, and there are still five more days to go.

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

Day 6: Minimalist Efficiency

When there was no buzz to feed; no distracted talking just to fill the silence, the choices of how to spend the time between meditation and mealtimes were sparse (shower, handwash laundry, walk, sit, or nap), and this meant there were also few interruptions to the flow of experience. Everything became streamlined to its essential form. Even when meditators overlapped in the dining hall and bathrooms, there was a shared understanding that we were all trying to do the minimalist version of our tasks, and not be in each other’s ways.

Photo by Dom Gould from Pexels

Day 7: Recognizing Projections

For seven days (ok, for all the days) I watched my mind make up stories about people I knew nothing about. It happened so quickly that I almost couldn’t catch it. My mind was an expert at taking fragments of observations and weaving them into complex (and often dark) tales of motivation and suspicion, or of admiration and comparison.

Image by Beyond Timelines from Pixabay

Day 8: Reclaiming My Mind

Though I spent the vast majority of the ten days without speaking a single word, I was still having plenty of conversations in my head. Without the constant influx of other people’s ideas in the form of voices, overheard conversations, or media channels, I found that I could much better hear myself. But of course, this wasn’t always clear, consistent, reasonable, or sane.

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Day 9: The Mindlessness of Chatter

Removing yourself from your normal setting allows you to notice things you would otherwise never pay attention to. In the space that Silence afforded, I became aware of the rules of society pushing us to comply with conventions of conversation. I realized I no longer cared if anyone in the common bathroom heard me in the toilet stall, or if anyone was watching me as I flossed my teeth, or who might be judging me if I took a larger portion of lunch (really, nobody). I came to see there was no need to be overly polite if someone held the door for me, or to be sorry if I was standing in someone’s way (you just move aside). I felt a quiet freedom blossom inside.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Day 10: The Silence Lifts

After all these days of blissful quiet, how can anyone ever imagine talking again? All the conventions you recognize in yourself that you’d love to release, well they come zooming back to you the instant you open your mouth.

Photo by Sonaal Bangera on Unsplash
Dhamma Sacca in Candeleda, Spain

The Eleventh Day and Beyond

Does the idea of silence for ten days make you uncomfortable? Are you curious about what you might discover about yourself when you pause inputs from the outside world?

The Silence of Home



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