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).

Ugly Duckling or Majestic Lion: Who Do You Want To Be? by Favour Scott

How did the famous neurosurgeon Ben Carson make his breakthrough? Why is a lion the king of the jungle? And who do YOU want to be?

Who do you want to be?

You probably remember the story of the ugly duckling. The ugly duckling, an ugly young duck was criticized by the other ducks. Whenever it desired to play with them, it was mocked at and told;

“Get off, you ugly duckling”.

And this caused it to develop low self-esteem. It never saw anything good in others, neither did it see anything good in itself.

But what it didn’t know is that it was beautiful in its own unique way. It wasn’t a duck, but a beautiful swan. One of the most beautiful of all birds.

White, Nature, Water Bird, Water, Swan

Who are YOU?

Do you know why people harass you, mock you or probably embarrass you? Have you ever wondered why most people look at you and criticize you?
Why most people underrate you?

People treat you the way they do, not because you are stupid, or because you really are what they say you are.

People assess you based on the way and manner you carry yourself.

A lion is the most feared, respected and majestic animal in the wild.

A lion will never associate with any other animal because it knows who it is. When a lion roars, all the animals in the forest will hear it and shiver. When a lion steps its foot on a particular place, the inhibitors of that place will tremble because they know that something great has arrived.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, King of the jungle
People can only pull you down if you allow them to do so.

Never underestimate your potential.

If only you know exactly how blessed, mighty and great you are, you’ll stop underestimating yourself.

You are greater than you think. Yes, I’m talking to you. You are underestimating your potential.

Who do you WANT to be?

You are not an ugly duckling, you are a majestic lion.

“When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable”

Myles Monroe

You still haven’t unravelled the mystery behind your existence, you still haven’t discovered your purpose. If only you knew.

The mockery and scorns from people should be the force that propels you to greater heights.

Remember the nicest necklaces, wristwatches and most beautiful of all ornaments all went through the hottest flames.

My dear friend, you are like a seed. A seed cannot be buried, it will always grow back into a beautiful and mighty tree.

Environmental Protection, Environment, Tree, Nature, Seed grows into tree

People will never stop trying to pull you down because you make them enjoy doing it.

Do you know why people never stop criticising you?

Assuming you had let the scorns, the mockery from people shapen you in the right direction, they would have stopped a long time ago,

Instead, you blame yourself for being YOU. But have you paused to ask yourself, who do YOU want to be?

Beloved one, people laugh at you because you are different, but instead, you should laugh at them because they are all the same. Being different is not a bad thing, but being like everyone else is as deadly as a poisonous viper.

Imagine how the world would have been, if everyone were to be the same. The whole world would have been boring and stagnant.

But God created room for variety. He made everyone uniquely different in their own uniquely different way!

So be happy you are different because “the different one is the one that progresses.
Smilies, Emoticons, Unique, Be different, Who Do You Want to Be

Never let anyone bring you down because you are;

  • Wonderful,
  • Beautifully created,
  • Awesome,
  • You are an embodiment of God’s greatest creation,

And above all, there’s no one else like you in this world. You are unparalleled.

God created you without blemish, you are perfectly perfect in perfection.

God commanded other organism, trees and planes but he took time to create you so as to make you perfect.

Ben Carson was mocked by his classmates, they called him a dullard and this saddened him. But thanks to his mother, he realised that their scorns were the force he needs to propel him to greater heights.

And today, he’s one of the best Neurosurgeons in the world.

Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon, Take the Risk, Book, Author, Motivation, Who Do You Want to Be

Have Self-Esteem.

Self-esteem means confidence in one’s own worth and satisfaction in oneself.

No matter what happens, never let what people say becloud your self-esteem. The opinions of people do not matter. No one has a say over your life, so why should you care?

Believe that you are the best because if you don’t, no one will. It’s what you say to yourself that manifests in your life.

Assuming you continue reminiscing over what people say about you, you’ll eventually blame your parents, yourself and everyone around you.

But if you say good things to yourself, your mind begins to work in that consciousness that you are the best, and in a short while, you actually become the best.

The mind is the greatest asset God bestowed on us.

Take every negative word said to you as an encouragement, and you’ll see, the sky won’t be your limit, but a starting point.

Never let anyone limit you. You can do beautiful things for this world, it all depends on you. All you have to do is put your mind to it. And keep asking yourself the question that matters – who do you want to be?

Favour Scott
Favour Scott

Favour is the driving force behind the website Seven Exceed. He’s an author, enthusiast and a futurist. His goal is to reorient people on the pros and cons of life.

Your Future Self, By Serena Rogers

A powerful guest post by Serena Rogers, about discovering your Future Self with steps to become one with your ideal version.

Self-limiting thoughts, self-doubt and negative self-talk are the main reasons why people do not carry out their dreams, dare to try new things or challenge themselves. Fear of failure, loved ones and societal expectations stop us before we even get started. Picturing yourself carrying forth your passion should not be a challenge, but in today’s world it is… So, where to start? 

Simply by imagining…

If I were to ask you to imagine your future self, what would you say?

Most people would uurrmm and ahhh and probably think of something that someone else said, along the lines of… “Well my other half has always said I should do…” or “I’m kind of good at ____ that’s what my boss said anyways…”

Nothing definitive, nothing concrete, very vague and almost cautious. Ok, so let’s try it again… And now, dig deep! Think about your passions, your dreams, your wants and desires. It is limitless!

Don’t put a cap on it by thinking, “Well I’ve got a child, so I couldn’t do that!” or “I’d need to be qualified to follow that path” Just for a minute, let your restraints of every day adult life go, and picture…well…whatever you want! It doesn’t hurt anyone to do that and it doesn’t mean that you can or can’t.

Just simply imagining a completely different version of you could be the thing that opens up your mind to different possibilities! 

Remember when you were young and you had a dream, let’s say it was to be an Archaeologist, like Indiana Jones? (Yes, I’m showing my age now!)

Indiana, Jones, Adventure, Self Discovery, Future Self, Imagination

You didn’t start thinking, well I’d need to get a visa and have X amount of money, I’d need specific training… you just simply imagined it.

Your imagination had no limits, right? Even as a teenager, there were less boundaries, you had more energy, yes of course, but you were freer! 

As we get older, the weight of adult life starts to weigh heavily on our bodies, to the point where doing something as simple as imagining, becomes a task that we have to find a greater purpose to. We need to remember that our young soul still lives inside us and to let it venture out every now and again.

If you were your future self, what would YOU want YOU to do right now? 

A difficult one to get your head around, I know. But if you had the knowledge you do now, when you were, let’s say, a teenager. I’m sure you would want to pass that on, so you could flourish and maybe, well, enjoy life, just that little bit more. I know I would!

I would not concentrate on unimportant things like how popular I was, what other people thought, but maybe concentrated more in other lessons, enjoyed going to school a bit more and the freedom that being a teenager comes with.

Laughed harder, complained less, loved more.

Couple, Hugging, Laugh, Smile, Girl, Man, Happy

I think we get so bogged down with adulthood, the responsibilities, the routine, the pressures, the expectation.

The desire for a comforting life, to know where our next meal comes from, being the ever-reliable predictable employee and other qualities that secure our monthly pay cheque, that we have forgotten how to live, how to dream, what our passions and unique abilities are.

You would be bold and daring to go for those less obvious choices, the ones that push and push you to your limits, that challenge you and help your mind expand and change. 

You would be kinder and more caring to yourself, to others, help more, be selfless. Not focus on financial rewards and be more intrinsically motivated. Do things because of the way they make you feel, the memories they give and the relationships they build.

You would keep those emotions in check! Be more mindful about the words you use, not act out of strong emotions, like fear, grief, anger or sadness and learn to feel them and let them pass because you know they won’t last forever. Think back to a time when you’ve acted out of, let’s say anger. How did it end up?

Do you look back on it fondly or do you scold yourself and have deep regrets and think how you’d do things differently. I’m far from perfect and when I think back to times when I’ve acted out of strong emotions; I think of what I’ve learnt from that and how I’d act now if I was faced with a similar scenario. 

What else could you do? 

Surround yourself with positive influences.

It can be hard in today’s world at times, I know. I started my Facebook group for this exact reason. If you haven’t the positivity you need right now, go and find it. People aren’t as horrible as we’ve been made to believe. 

Smilies, Sit, Rest, Friends, Happy, Future Self
Challenge self-limiting thoughts and self-doubt by recognising them.

Not holding onto them but letting them pass. Because they will and do not let them rule or overwhelm you. Distract yourself with a bit of self-love, lean on those supportive people around you, flip those negative thoughts to positive ones or use them for personal growth.

Face your fears.

Then, challenge negativity with your strength of giving something new a try and getting out of your comfort zone. Then you will grow in confidence, self-esteem and have concrete belief, whether failing or succeeding, that you can achieve your dreams.

Exercise gratitude daily.

Remind yourself to be happy of the life you have made for yourself.

Read More : 8 Ways of Grateful Living

Be happier by living intentionally.

And being in the here and now. Don’t weigh yourself down with regrets of the past or busy your mind with worry of the future.

Good, Bad, Opposite, Choice, Choose, Future Self, Positive
Stop comparing your life to others.

They are not you and you are not them. You haven’t lived their lives and they haven’t lived yours. Realise you are right where you’re supposed to be now, which might not make sense whilst you are living it.

Which brings me onto another point.

Trusting the process.

Don’t fret or worry about if what you’re doing is right or wrong. Instead ask yourself, does what you’re doing now, support your plans, goals and dreams. Does it benefit you and others around you? Go from here…

Last and certainly not least, have fun! Enjoy your life! After all, life is for living! 

So, what are you going to do, now? 

I’m not one for telling people how to live their lives or being over prescriptive, take what you like and leave the rest or take the whole lot and see how it fairs for you…

However, going through this journey I found, doing the above is helping me enjoy my life more and giving me the courage to continue daring to go for my dreams. It’s too easy to quit, it’s too easy to sit comfortably, it’s too easy to let negative thoughts win.

I’m passionate and firmly believe that living more positively and believing in yourself, is the key to unlocking your true potential, abilities and forgotten passions, in order to achieve your dreams, goals and your own version of success. 

Pencils, Heart, Red Heart, Be Different

What is innately in you that, what’s your drive, when are you in your flow, what are you good at? Sometimes, you’ve just got to dig deep! My aim is to inspire, motivate and connect with like-minded everyday people and achieve our dreams together. Fancy joining me on my journey? 

Thanks for reading. Give your future self a chance…Your dreams are waiting, go get them! 

Until next time…

SR

Serena Rogers
Serena Rogers

Serena has over 15 years of working within the Housing, Health and Social Care sector; facilitating workshops, teaching, training and supporting individuals with multiple and complex needs in the UK.
Having built a following through blogging and Instagram; a space for people to explore all that is human and feel safe to do so. Allowing people to move from passion to purpose.