"I won't have my mobile phone or access to internet. It is a silent meditation retreat and we are not allowed to have any form of communication," he explained.
"You can't even talk to people staying there?" I was beyond appalled.
"No, no-one," Shantu replied calmly.
"Have you done this before?" I asked. I wasn't doing very well in hiding my surprise.
"Yes, I have already been there twice."
"How was the experience?" I asked, awestruck.
"It was like being born again."
Have you ever gone without any form of communication even for a day? We are constantly connected in some way. We are either online, watching television, listening to music or simply going about our day which involves mundane exchanges of words. Now imagine being all by yourself, alone with your thoughts, without any form of distractions. How are you going to feel? Is it going to bore you enormously? Will you get restless if you don't talk? Will you have the greatest idea that will change the world? Will you marvel at your thoughts and use them to attain a higher state of self awareness?
Head for Vipassana to figure out all the answers and experience a digital detox of another level.
Vipassana meaning inward vision or seeing things as they really are, is an ancient technique of meditation that originated in India. It was rediscovered by Buddha more than 2,500 years ago and is widely practiced by people belonging to different religions and countries even today. According to the teachings of Buddhism, Vipassana is considered the ultimate cure for one's physical and mental troubles.
Being a sensory thought-watching meditation it aims at attaining the highest level of happiness, that is full liberation, by letting go of all thoughts (not judged as good or bad) that stop us from rising to our full potential. It is a way to self-transformation through mindfulness, which means to be aware of the physical and mental phenomena occurring in the present moment. It involves acknowledging and being fully aware of your body, visions, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations of touch, the feeling of pain and every thought you may have in the moment, but in a detached manner.
The meditation technique is taught at Vipassana meditation centre and requires a person to stay there for the entire duration of the course. During that time, participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline. They cannot talk to any other person, make eye-contact, use phones, write, read or do anything apart from what is directed in the meditation course.
1) During the period of the course, you have to abstain from killing any creature, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely and consuming intoxicants. This step of moral conduct helps to calm the mind to better perform the act of self-observation.
2) In the next step, you will learn breathing meditation to help you master your mind. Here you have to simply observe the changing flow of your breath.
3) After your mind is calmer and more focused, you will be ready to undertake the practice of mindfulness.
4) Finally, the participants will learn the meditation for having loving and kind thoughts towards all.
There are several meditation courses available at Vipassana meditation centre. Anybody willing to learn this technique can join the course.
Vipassana is not taught commercially but is offered free of cost. All the courses run solely on a donation basis. Food and accommodation are also provided free of cost for the duration of course.
There are Vipassana Meditation centres all around the world. In India there are 91 centres in total, spread across 23 states.
You can find your nearest meditation centre here.
"I observed some very obvious changes in myself. Although I don't open up to strangers easily, I found myself interacting with people with more ease. I discovered I was smiling a lot more. Maybe the extended period of silence was what triggered me to shed my inhibitions. I was certain I wanted to experience something that I feared and this course was exactly what I was looking for. I am so glad I took up the challenge," explained a fellow traveller, describing his experience with Vipassana.
I can't wait to try this rather challenging quest to self-enlightenment. Can you?