Humility: Is Your Ego Stopping Your Spiritual Growth? By Shivangi S

Why is humility important in spiritual growth? And how can you cultivate a humble mindset in your journey? Read this!

Does your mind ever alter between the extreme states of “I know everything” and “I know nothing”? Say, after chatting with someone you feel extremely proud or you feel like a drop in the ocean? Let’s see how one can find a state of balance and practice humility in this tug of war between self-worth and ego.

My first encounter with the word humility was when I had got a sticker for it in school. Each of us in our group was being awarded a sticker according to the trait they most reflected. I received humility. With a black sticker background. It felt negative and mysterious for some reason.

Sure I had seen the word somewhere before but had never deeply understood what it meant. The dictionary meaning of humble said, “having or showing a modest or low opinion of your own importance; of low rank; not large or special”.

I thought to myself, “Why would I do that?” Why would this be considered even a good trait? Thinking low of oneself – isn’t that bad? 

Taking the first step towards humility

 The entry of the word karma, which stood for what goes around comes around, also helped me in understanding the importance of humility. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. 

Although knowing the meaning of a word is not where you stop. That was just the introduction. The actual energy of the word has entered your play-field (life) and now it’s time for you to master it. 

#1 – Seeing the opposite -I’m bigger than anyone else

Usually the first step we take in understanding a concept is to understand what’s the opposite of it. 

What is hate you ask? It’s the absence of love and vice-versa. (Sometimes hate is replaced by fear. The trio is: love, hate, fear. Only one of it can stay without the other two.) Dark is the absence of light.

How can we understand what is humble if we don’t know what is being egoistic? The first lesson usually starts with us feeling we are above everyone else. 

humility in spiritual journey

When you get good grades or a medal, win a competition, or have all your successes in check, it’s usually a lesson to make you learn about staying humble about your achievements in life. The real life spirituality hasn’t started yet but it’s a good workout for you to differentiate between your ego vs your true self. 

Usually early-on during childhood we’re always taught to be The Best! The best is what everyone is seeking to be. The best in sports, dancing, singing, writing, etc. 

While being the best is not the problem in itself, the world can surely benefit from talented people, but the attitude the person carries makes a huge difference. Anybody would love to connect with a person who is genuine over someone who is all about show-off. 

#2 – Being humble 

Usually the most modest people don’t talk about being “humble”. They just say, “it’s their duty” or “they’re glad to be of service”. They think it’s all a small effort in making people’s lives a bit better by just BEING a bit better. Change comes from within right? 

What could be a greater service to humanity than to be what you want to see the most in the world?


Differentiating between humility vs spiritual ego

This is where it gets tough. Now that you’re a “good person”, your ego will start telling you, “Very good! You’re the greater person now”. Your mind will start making excuses and sometimes it’ll tell you, “I’m doing this because people need this! I’m doing a service and people should feel grateful for it” or “I’m so caring. What are you doing with your life?”

As an example, some people will actually take a photo of them doing a good job and post it on social media. “God are you watching? Sending some good karma my way, xoxo”. Hilarious, indeed. It is possible for ego to take pride in your humility.

The point is not about doing a good job and then showing it afterwards. It’s about the intention behind doing it. Sharing with the world your good deeds isn’t a problem. 

The thing about being “humble” is that people who are that, don’t boast about it. Did you do it with a good heart? Did you genuinely love helping people or did you just do it for the appreciation? Only you can answer that. 

One other thing that happens with the spiritual ego is that people start giving their deeds far more worth than they should. Being a karam-yogi means you do the deed without caring about the result you’ll get from it. 

Sometimes when we do something good to others our mind goes into a spiral of being the savior. Don’t steal the lessons away from people by doing that. 

You are not helping by being the savior. Instead, nudge or encourage the person to save their own selves by helping them take their power back. 

Also, at times, while being on this conscious journey people start looking up to others and get intimidated by seeing all the good or the magnificence that a person may carry.

 Xyz has mastered so many clair senses and I don’t even know the spiritual lingo!

It is important to gain inner peace, empathy and love without boosting our ego or undermining ourselves. 

The next part will explain you the way we put ourselves above or below anybody else and later we’ll see some tips we can use to balance it out.


The humility quotient 

One thing tricky about humility is that the dictionary explains it as, “having a low opinion of oneself”. That didn’t sit right with my younger self and it was for a good reason. Below I’ll explain how I see humility, an attribute like any other, should be kept in balance. 

It is easy to be on either of the extremes: being boastful or having fairly low self-esteem can both be dangerous. 

Since the infinities extend in both the directions, being humble is exactly in the middle of the scale. Its to balance out one’s excessive good and excessive bad self-worth.

 Low can be subjective and it is this middle-ground that people sometimes confuse with being low in dignity and value. 

Being humble doesn’t mean being a pushover. People shouldn’t just take advantage of your kindness and politeness or should take more from you without giving back much. Usually we do find these people around us who are “happy to help”. 

We should understand the fact that just because someone helped you last minute-in, doesn’t mean he’s your saviour now or someone you could walk to at any time to ask for anything. They don’t owe you anything. 


15 Tips to Practice Being Humble In Daily Life

The best way to practise it is to watch people who are humble and adopt what you find best in them. 

Take older generations, for example. In my opinion, they’ve inherently got this attitude of being humble about most things in their lives. Mostly our grandpas and grandmas do far more (compared to the younger generations) but still boast less about it. According to them, that’s just the way of life. 

When you’re becoming more spiritually aware and mature, it’s easier to think that you’ll develop these things naturally. But it takes real work to do even the most basic of  the things outlined below. 

Here are a few practices that may help you be more humble.

#1 – Staying true to yourself.

At the end of the day we’re all responsible for ourselves. Our conscience will always ask what is tough to help us stay true to ourselves each time. By doing that we can speed-up your growth. 

It’s not wise to give ourselves fake brownie points for things we know are of no real worth. It wouldn’t help us in the long run. 

Related read: 5 Tips To Be More Authentic

#2 – Being open to critique/feedback.

Hard thing to do is to look in the mirror and say, “I accept all your flaws”.

Being of the mindset that you are who you are and you would try to be more open to receiving criticism that might hurt you (if you’re too much in the ego) but you’ll try to accept things more kindly and take what is useful for you and reject what’s not, you could be doing yourself a great service. 

#3 – Being more sensitive to nature.

God is the greatest artist and nature is our greatest gift of inspiration. Here, nature includes both the seer and the scenery. 

extend your humility into the service of nature and cleanliness

We should take responsibility for our home (Earth) and start treating everything with the respect it deserves. This isn’t just a logical truth, but a deeply spiritual one.

For example, Advaita Vedanta is the school of thought which means that the Brahman (universe) is everything, you are the Brahman (universe), so you’re one with everything, and that differences or duality do not exist.

Walk down such schools of thought in a way that brings humility towards the entirety of your existence.

#4 – Volunteering or being more of service.

Don’t always be of the attitude what could this person/institute/organization give me that could benefit me. Rather turn the question around and ask what could YOU contribute for the betterment of the world, relationship, or organization.

Being of service to others more means you want to be more useful in the world and take your existence seriously. You should have fun doing that. Volunteering wouldn’t be a success if you do it with a heavy heart. It’s fruitful when it’s done with a passion for service.

#5 – Acceptance.

This can come in two ways.

Accepting people, situations & conditions

Many people have a hard time accepting things for their face value. The forest is burning up, what can you do? Someone in your family or friends is struggling with depression, what can you do? 

Once we can take the first step of accepting things for what they are past all the blaming others/waiting for the saviour to come, we can get faster towards solving the problem.

Accepting yourself  

Being comfortable with all the good/bad in you is as important as accepting other things in life. The first step to being a more humble person is realising that you too have faults. Probably even after reading so many self-help books you can’t help manage your thoughts and when in crisis you start reacting instead of responding. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Accepting that you have a long way to go and taking one-step-a-day is one of the keys in staying humble.

#6 – Being conscious of what you eat.

What does this have to do with being humble? It’s there to increase your sensitivity about living beings and to help you avoid eating food for selfish reasons. 

We are not living in survival mode anymore that we have to eat only meat. Ideally, human beings should eat things that require the least amount of violence. If you cannot cut down entirely, try eating lesser portions of meat and include more veggies on your plate. 

Here’s a great resource for those interested in veganism.

#7 – Forgiveness.

We all can benefit from having a little less tension in our lives and if a relation is on-the-verge of ending we could just forgive each other in our hearts (if we cannot do that physically). 

Forgiving people lets you dissolve the negativity that could turn into bigger problems in life. 

#8 – Sitting with your craft.

Let it simmer. Would you prefer eating a stew that’s been prepared in half an hour or one that’s been simmering  for 3 hours on low flame (if not all night long)? The longer you sit with your craft, the better you’re able to understand it. 

You’ll spend a huge amount of time looking at it from n no. of perspectives. It’ll take you some time to get better at it. If you start spending more time doing things mindfully, you’re getting closer to living life more humbly. 

#9 – Being in someone else’s shoes.

When in doubt about if it was my fault or if it was his, try putting yourself in another’s shoes and see what you think and feel from their point of view. 

humility comes from being empathic with other people

You’ll often realize it is neither of your faults and it was only a lesson you’re both trying to learn. Doing this practice can help you realize that we keep switching our roles from time-to-time.

The time is never the same for anyone. Remembering this fact can make you more humble towards a specific person you are having conflicts with. 

#10 – Less is more. 

This can be explained in two ways too.

Material goods

The next time you think about buying extra stuff for when-in-need-I’ll-have-a-supermarket-at-home, try buying lesser. Hoarding material goods is not beneficial to us rather than the normal thinking and less is not equivalent

to being poor as the society has programmed us to believe. In fact, people worldwide have given this a more modern term, minimalism

practice minimalism as a part of humility

Having sufficient for you and then sharing what you don’t require can help in two ways. People in need could benefit from the resources more and you are benefitted by not overwhelming yourself.      

Words 

Whenever you get a chance to explain something to someone, do so as you’re explaining to a kid. 

Don’t expect people to know the jargons. Be as thorough and as easy as you can. Anybody could flaunt their talents but it takes more patience to explain things more easily yet potently.

#11- Check your humility quotient amongst others.

Being more sensitive to the naive is also an important aspect of being humble. 

Say, a casual meeting happens and this man is so full of himself that he wouldn’t stop boasting about his knowledge in his field of expertise. 

Thus, showing others that they’re nothing and can benefit somewhat from their intelligence (sarcasm also is considered an intelligent form of humour but rarely do people think about the emotional aspect of it). 

Having a good HQ is as important as having a good IQ (humility quotient, a subset of EQ emotional quotient). 

#12 – Smiling

A genuine smile which comes straight from the heart is something that people will remember for a long time. It is free and the easiest to give.                              

smile more to express humility

People say having a smile is of utmost importance to make yourself more appealing, even if it is a fake smile. I think that having a good heart counts. Genuine smile can only come from inner reflection. 

#13 – Having a chat with someone in distress.

People have become more disconnected now than ever. Some may experience feeling lonely in a crowd.

It’s ironic with all the technology in this day, we’re creating a more empty generation. You would definitely find someone in your circle feeling low at times. You can strike up a conversation with them. 

Sometimes being heard is all that people want. Seeing a human face that would give them a smile is all they need to get back on their feet.

When you see someone in distress, be their guide. 

#14 – Taking your time to speak.

Taking  your time to formulate your thoughts before speaking is a very good habit. 

They say the first thought that comes to your mind is what you truly think. I believe that our ego is the first one to jump at us in many situations. Somebody called you a curse word. You think, “Well, why don’t I shower you with some natural slander?” (hint: that’s not your true self. That’s your negative ego-mind) 

#15 – Handling successes and failures alike.

It’s easier to keep your calm when you’re climbing up the ladder of success but rarely do people learn how to cope with failure.

Practise remaining stable with both your ups-and-downs. Your failures can give you wisdom and your successes can give you a chance to practise more humility. 

Other Practices For Humility

Some other things you can do to be more humble are

  • practicing gratitude,
  • groundedness,
  • mindfulness,
  • meditating,
  • surrendering,
  • praying,
  • journaling,
  • bowing/doing a Namaste (which means, I honor the divine in you),
  • having daily personal reflections.            

After learning how you can be more humble, what’s left is finding the place to practice that. What is the best space than the world we live in? In your office, school, street, home, garden, wherever you are right now, look for ways you can be more humble. 

“All the whole world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” – Shakespeare

Concluding thoughts 

Patience, humility, kindness, compassion goes hand-in-hand. It’s easier to practise other traits easily if we work on one from the list. They’re synonymous in the larger sense. 

Being humble is being of the shunya (zero) mentality. People think zero means nothing. Rather, shunya is that something which is nothing. Therefore, being humble doesn’t mean you are nothing. It simply means you  understand the worth of things enough to not get it to your head. Good luck being the humble-bee! 

Sending you love and appreciation, 

SS

Shivangi Srivastava
Shivangi Srivastava

Shivangi is an aspiring writer, amateur artist and has interests in spirituality, music, and reading, among other things. 

Contact Shivangi at magicshi.pla@gmail.com.

Maun Vrat & The Power of Silence In Your Spiritual Growth

What is a maun vrat and how can you observe the power of silence effectively in your spiritual practices? Read this insightful post.

Coming from a Hindu family, I’ve always been in and out of food fasting rituals. And I have to admit that I first gained a sense of the power of silence doing something unrelated to my culture. While watching Julia Robert’s Love, Prey, Eat! But only recently was I influenced by my sister-in-law to actually try it out for myself. And from that, comes this post for you.

What is a Maun Vrat?

Maun, means silence, and Vrat means fasting. This is the literal meaning – to keep a vow of silence.

This entails completely unplugging and retracting from the world, to go inwards.

It is similar to meditation, but is not limited to closing your eyes for the whole period. Based on how you choose to execute this vow, you can add many self-reflecting aspects to your practice. I’ll be talking more about that in upcoming sections.

The idea of observing silence is ancient, and continues to be practiced by different groups around the world. But what is the purpose?

Let’s first talk about the benefit of any kind of fasting or vows.

When we practice conscious self-restraint, we begin to understand how dependent we are on the external. So, for example, when you do a food fast, here are a couple of observations you might make.

  • You eat way more than you need to.
  • Sometimes, you mindlessly pick up snacks or go to the fridge to clear a can.
  • A lot of your time is spent in thinking about food, eating food, preparing food, etc.
  • When you don’t eat, it becomes easier for you to get emotionally triggered and be short-tempered.
  • If you fast long enough, once you do eat, you eat more mindfully and you end up eating less.

In the past couple of centuries, fasting had become about pleasing God and getting your wishes to come true. As Conversations with God shows us, that isn’t needed. God isn’t conditional in his love.

And in the new age, food fasting is often promoted as a good detox for the body. That is only a partial benefit of it. However, there’s a much deeper psychological change that unfolds when you stick to the practice. I’ll probably save that topic for another post.

But the same hols true for a maun vrat. You only experience the power of silence, once you put it into practice for hours at a stretch. So let’s talk in more detail about what happens, and what to expect.

The Four Stages of a Maun Vrat & the Benefits of Observing Silence

First, let’s walk through the different stages of observing silence, and the benefits you reap as you pass through each stage.

Stage 1: Getting Started

Getting started with the maun vrat is as easy as dropping everything you’re doing and just sitting still, in silence. You may or may not choose to start with meditation. When getting started, it can help you to focus on the breath, or on just observing your environment.

In the first couple minutes of silence, you might find yourself scrambling to sit quietly and just ‘be’. It might even drive you crazy to realize how many thoughts are coming and going. You might find yourself reaching out to grab an object around you, or scratch a phantom itch on your body.

cat itching itself, stages of observing silence

If you’ve been a meditator for a while, it could in contrast be easier. Either way, overtime, your body will get acclimatized and want to move less.

As you notice your energy slowing down and settling in, the first benefit unveils itself. You are beginning to calm down at a physical level. And your inner ‘fidget spinner’ is beginning to slow down.

If you persevere from a few minutes of doing nothing, into around the half-hour mark, you’re likely to enter stage 2.


Stage 2: Lethargy

Eventually, as you keep observing silence, you may find the slumber phase arising. Your physical body is slowing down, and your heartbeat is as well. So, the mind may get a cue to shut down the conscious and take a nap.

One of two things can happen. You will either fall asleep and wake up afresh, probably putting you back into stage 1.

Or, you will redirect this cue, and use it to enter a state of self-guided meditation (called self-hypnosis) and introspection.

As that happens, you will enter stage 3.


Stage 3: Going Deep

This is the best part of observing silence, when you start making breakthroughs! I have a couple of tips lined up in the next section to help get you here faster. And once you do, here’s what to expect.

This is the perfect time to reflect on one’s karmic programming, to reflect on the different patterns that have led you here in life. It also becomes interesting to observe your body and the environment, purely from the angle of an observer.

You may find yourself rolling your neck and involuntary yawning as the body resist’s stage 2’s lethargy. In contrast, your mind may be racing with a different kind of energy – like bringing new insights to you to help you clean your actions.

peaceful, introspection, journaling, power of silence, vow of silence
As you go deeper into self-introspection, it can be helpful to keep a notebook nearby and take quick notes (not necessarily writing paragraphs) about your AHA moments.

In recent silence periods, I’ve added certain dots up about my behavior that have left me humbled and bringing back my focus on self-development versus finding fault in others.


Stage 4: Coming full circle.

You may waiver between the first three stages throughout the period of silence, which is pretty normal. Eventually, when you’ve reached your time capacity, bring your practice to a full circle.

Without sounding too ritualistic, it is still important to maintain a decorum as you slowly come out of your silent period.

Instead of jumping to check your phone or calling a friend to talk about how awesome the silence was, try to extend the silence into day-to-day activities.

Some tips include –

  • going for quiet walks, without music or a friend,
  • eating a mindful meal and not watching the TV,
  • cleaning up your space and giving thanks to the surroundings for facilitating your quietude.

Allow yourself to carry that calmness into your day for as long as you can. That would be the truest test and also the biggest ripple effect of the power of silence!


5 Tips to Deepen Your Experience of the Power of Silence

#1 – Reduce Distractions.

It goes without saying that you should NOT have a phone ringing near you, nor should you be using Facebook. However, distraction can also come from the inanimate objects around you.

I use my workspace to practice my quietude, and initially found myself wanting to pick up a book to read, or to write down a task that I would do for the blog once this period of silence was over.

the mind searches for things to do to escape from the present moment

The mind will do everything it can to escape the present moment. Keep observing the ways in which it gets distracted and start eliminating those distractions.

At the end of each maun vrat, I have made it a point to write down the answer to this question – what distracted me today?

Being clutter-free, tech-free and sound-free would be a great starting point.


#2 – Have a broad plan of execution.

Initially, I had no plan of what I would be doing for my first maun vrat. I spent nearly 6 hours trying to do nothing, and found myself getting extremely bored. Ofcourse, being aware of this boredom was a part of self-awareness, but it was tough to do for so many hours.

Answer some of these questions before you observe silence.

  • Where would you be practicing this so that you’re not distracted? Assign yourself a quiet space, and don’t be shy in letting people around you know that you will be unavailable. You don’t want to end up using sign-language to communicate, which too is besides the point!
  • How many hours can you genuinely commit to? I wouldn’t start with 6 hours, like I did. Currently, the 3 hour works best for me. Try something short at first, like 45 minutes or an hour, and slowly build momentum.
  • What are the rules for this period? For instance, some people keep reading spiritual books as an open option in their maun vrat, to inspire concentrated thoughts of self-awareness. However, personally, I go cold turkey and have omitted all sources of input for my period (laptop/tv, books, social media).
  • What are some questions you’d like to reflect on? I started by writing down some questions in advance, and at later stages found questions arising from the reflections I was doing. I’ve put together some of these questions into a digital workbook to help you with your inner reflection.
  • How often would you like to do this? This is a question you’d ask once you’ve done your first maun vrat. Can you take out time every week? Or just once a month? If you’re planning shorter durations, you can even scatter different activities on different days and practice 15-30 minutes of quietude everyday.

#3 – Have mindful activities planned.

Like I said in the previous tip, you can decide what the rules will be for you. I chose to isolate myself and not move around, but you can incorporate a mindful walk (without music) into your routine.

monk mindfully walking along the beach, mindful walks are helpful to experience the power of silence, maun vrat, vow of silence

Evaluate the activities that will keep you awake, and practice them during periods where you notice the lethargy kicking in.

I personally love journaling, and really made the most out of this period by filling up sheets and sheets of self-reflecting questions!

#4 – Quiet the mind and body.

These are some of the tips I was talking about in stage 3, that will help you go deeper into your practice.

  • Try to do a physical activity like a jog or household chores before your quiet time, so that you can exhaust some of the physical energy and actually rest during the silence.
  • Get tasks out of the way, or manage your responsibilities beforehand too, to ease the mind.
  • Instead of just doing one long meditation, you can divide your maun vrat into several different meditations, journaling periods and walks.

I teach people how to ease their way into meditation, and the same tips would apply here as well. You can get in touch if you’d like to advance your learning.


#5 – End Gracefully

I remember when I first used to do food fasts, I would pig out when I opened the fast. This put my body in shock and I would experience extreme lethargy after that. To the same effect, you don’t want to disrupt your stillness by doing something overly engaging right away.

how to end your vow of silence gracefully,

Here are some ways to gracefully end the period of silence –

  • ending the quietude with a prayer that you sing aloud,
  • chanting for the last few minutes of your silence,
  • offer a prayer or blessing, sending out your Love & Light to the planet,
  • humming positive songs for the first few minutes of regular life,
  • reading a scripture or page from a spiritual book aloud.

The whole idea is to sustain the energy created in silence and carry it into the rest of the day.


Concluding Thoughts

A silent vow, or maun vrat, when done right can be just as powerful as meditation. Infact deeper. It is a blend of mindfulness and meditation, giving you the luxury to be self-aware without necessarily sitting still the whole period or keeping your eyes closed.

As you practice hours of quietude, note down the power of silence in your life. And do let me know how it goes, in the comments below!

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Vipassana Meditation : A Candid Review Of What To Expect, By Ankita S

What does the 10-days Vipassana Meditation feel like? Here’s a candid experience of what to expect from this profound spiritual retreat.

The secrets of the universe and its working has amazed me since childhood! And somehow, my gut instinct always asked me to get into meditation, though I ignored its whisper. However, I was forced to listen to it once I had some severe health complications. This finally led me to explore the hidden world of Vipassana meditation. And here’s my experience.

I don’t know why I expected some magic to see once I started meditating. Though there were moments of peace, and calm, I was looking for something else, something more maybe! And that led me to explore Vipassana through a retreat.

What is Vipassana Meditation?

Vipassana is a Pali word which means ‘to see’. And that forms the basis of this meditation technique.

While there are many theories about the several meditation techniques started by Buddha, there is strong evidence that Buddha mainly taught Vipassana. Which later got spread to Burma by king Ashoka.

buddha taught vipassana meditation to his monks, monks sitting in deep meditation

Though this technique got lost in India, SN Goenka brought it back to India in 1976.

Now that we have a little background of how it originated, here is more to what makes it so special. The intense 100-hour continuous meditation practice!

You are not connected to the world, not speaking to anyone for those 10 days, live on minimum food, and just meditate. That’s what makes it special. Is it easy? No, it’s not, but it’s worth the efforts.


Why do you have to stay for 10-days long?

Vipassana is taught in a step-by-step process. Every day it’s a little more than the previous day. The course is designed in such a way that you have to spend a minimum of 10 days to learn it gradually and see the benefits afterward.

pack your bags for a 10 day course in vipassana meditation experience

During the first 3 days, they teach how to concentrate on the mind. Those three days of practice sharpen the mind and prepare it for what’s coming next.

From the 4th day, they start teaching the actual technique of Vipassana which is ‘to see’ into your body.

Well, it may sound easy. ‘Just seeing the body? Uh! Not that tough! I can do it at home!’ But it’s not!

One wishing to practice seriously must be under a proper guide. There are several layers you uncover and it might be scary sometimes. The group is divided into men and women, and each group has separate teachers.

You also need an environment where there is the least disturbance. Vipassana centers provide you such an environment. 


My Experience!

Now that I have talked enough about all that can be theory, let’s listen to ‘my story’ of Vipassana! Ready?? Fasten your seat belts! You are going to enter into a world of magic, and mystics. Yay!

It took a lot of courage to decide that I would go to Vipassana. The thought of not talking to family scared me the most. However, the good thing was that I had my husband with me. So, in a way, I had a familiar face at the center though we didn’t talk to each other for the next 10 days.

vipassana meditation, quietude, solitude, healing, balance

The morning bell rang at 4 am, and we had to be in the main meditation hall to start the practice at 4:30 am. It took me 2 days to adjust to this timing. We were given instructions to follow on a daily basis.

For the first day, we were asked just to concentrate on the breath. And just the opposite of what I had thought, it was super tough!

My mind wandered in all directions. I visited earth, mars, space, met all the aliens, danced to Bollywood numbers in those little two hours! 

When we were out for breakfast at 6:30 am, my head was aching. The next marathon of meditation started at 8:00 am and ended at 11:00 am for lunch. I was super irritated by my mind. What can’t you be a little quieter?

At 1:30 pm we started again and ended at 5:30 pm for snacks. Now, I wanted to speak to someone, but everyone ignored my smile! Ouch!! At 6:30 pm we started again and were given instructions for the next day at 8:30 pm. I was back to the hostel, and in bed by 10:00 pm. Well, the routine was going to be the same for the next 10 days!


Did I have any magical experiences during my Vipassana retreat?

Before I decided to book my Vipassana, I had read many blogs on it, and people talked about how they healed from backache, migraine in just 10 days.

While I did not expect my health issue to get resolved in just 10 days, I did expect ‘something’, a little magic maybe. And that happened on the third day!

In the afternoon when I was concentrating on my breath, I felt my right hand shaking. It’s easy to distinguish between a shaking due to weakness, and shaking due to something more powerful.

As I saw it, I was scared from the meditation experience. I guess fear was not needed at that moment. Because the moment I was afraid, the experience stopped! I kept feeling magical for the next many minutes.

And I can assure you that it was the latter. I experienced that ‘something more powerful’ in my right hand. When I l opened my eyes to look at what’s happening, it was still shaking, and nothing was not in my control.

powerful meditation experiences, vipassana healing techniques, review of vipassana retreat

When I told my teacher about that experience, she said, ‘Observe it!’

Well, her reply did not make me happy at that time, but now that I see it, that’s what Vipassana is all about. Observing.

Was it easy?? No, it was not!

Along with the few magical moments I had, there were a few painful moments too. Like on the seventh day, I could feel the heat inside my body. My stomach and lung area had some fire as if it would burn me from inside.

Well, it was always there, had been there for years but Vipassana had made me aware of that negativity, and I could feel the pain. By evening, it felt like I would vomit due to the heat. But I did not want to give up and by the next day, it got better!

painful experiences during vipassana meditation
Along with the physical pain I experienced, my mind became more chaotic by day 5 and 6. I had read people saying that their experience got better as the days passed. However, for me, it was full of ups and downs.

There were days I was at complete peace with what I was going through. And then for many days, I just wanted to scream and run. I remember, on day 7th, in the night I just wanted to bang the door of the course manager, and ask her to let me go! Thankfully, I survived those intense emotions. Phew!


Vipassanawould I go again?

Of course yes! Don’t get demotivated by the weird experiences.

They will just pass, and the benefits you get out of those 10 days would outgrow your bad memories. Funnily enough, just after I returned, I started looking forward to booking another 10 days course.

While the experience might be addictive, it’s important to remember that one should continue practicing it at home. Those 10 days can only provide an essential introduction and foundation to the technique. To develop in the practice is a lifetime job.


How can you survive those bad days?

I was talking to my Yoga teacher just after I had booked the session. And she told me, ‘Ankita, the day you feel agitated the most, is the day you get healed the most! Remember that!

And I reminded myself of these golden worlds on those bad days. She also said that whenever I felt like quitting, I should just try to wait for ‘one more day’. And this theory worked too!

On the 7th day when I was experiencing too much heat in my body, I just wanted to see  ‘one more’ day, and by the next day, I already felt better.


My advice if you are going to Vipassana for the first time!

There are many things I could have done to make my experience better.  And they are:

#1 – Follow the routine.

There are leisure times in which they expect you to take some break from meditation. Utilize that time. Which means take the break! You deserve it. I did the opposite. I ignored the routine and practiced even during those break hours. Result? I was super exhausted and bored in the last few days.

#2 – Walk-in nature.

Vipassana centers are built in between the woods, far away from the city so that you can experience maximum healing.

But healing does not only happen by meditating. It also happens when you walk in nature. When you soak in the fresh air and walk around in the woods mindful of everything around.

early morning vipassana meditation in the nature

I skipped that part, only to realize on the 8th that I had missed something major! Sigh.

#3 – Do not talk.

Well, I didn’t do it, but I saw many people who broke the rule of not talking. They made groups and by the 8th day, I could see them walking and talking. And it’s not recommended.

There is a reason the course asks you not to talk. It’s because when you stop one of your senses, the awareness of other senses is heightened.

And you experience the technique more deeply. After all, that’s why we are here, right?

#4 – Do not compare.

We were asked to talk in groups with the teacher about the day-wise experience. When I listened to someone else’s experience I would question my practice.

‘She said that she experienced itchiness. Why didn’t I?’

And it made me question my efforts. Don’t do that! We all are unique, and so is our experience. A comparison will only hamper your progress. 

#5 – Start meditating at home before you go for the retreat.

If you are new to meditation, and you want to start by going to this retreat, you are doomed. It will be very tough, and most probably you will leave the course in between.

Until and unless you haven’t practiced any kind of meditation at home previously, I won’t advise you to go for this intense practice.

Maybe you can start practicing at home 3-6 months prior to registration. This way sitting one hour continuously for a session won’t be tough. Here are some tips to get you started with your home practice.

person sitting and meditating outside

Parting thoughts


Once I returned from Vipassana, I got to hear many more stories of miraculous healing. No doubt every meditation is helpful but the effects are tough to notice because of slow progress. However, the effects of Vipassana are instantaneous.

Once you return from the retreat, most probably you will see some change in your personal or professional life.

While it might sound absurd to many, the fact is that when you get rid of so many unwanted beliefs and toxins from your body, you attract more of what you desire. It’s like a return gift from the universe for all the efforts you have put in those 10 days of intense meditation!

Ankita Srivastava
Ankita Srivastava

Ankita is an IT Professional who has taken a break from work to explore the world of spirituality and meditation. She loves reading books, and is a big fan of Mary Oliver’s poetry. Writing soothes her soul, and you can find her writing regularly on Quora (link) and her blog (link).