When I decided to accept the invitation of a friend I had no idea what I was getting into.
A 10 day meditation course with a schedule that made us start at 4am and finishing at 9:30pm. Limited food intake, (specially for me only bread and bananas), limited sleep allowed of about 6h (for me was less than 4h sleep a day), the humid heat from India, no talking for 10 days, no electronic devices, no pen and paper in a beautiful scenario of Igatpuri at the Dhamma Giri – Vipassana International Academy.
The days that seemed like weeks (really!)
The first 3 days were incredible tough because of the lack of sleep, lack of food, no talking, and many feelings of fear, anger, frustration, rage, sense of lack of freedom and so many other that arise in a situation like this. In such a way that makes want to go away and give up all of that. You miss everything in a amplified way. You talk too much to yourself, you have dreams and nightmares in clear 3D. Even when you feel tired and want to sleep, your mind doesn’t feel like it. It’s amazing how you can stay there like I did with less than 4h sleep per day in a non consecutive way.
The other 3 days you start to get used to the timetable and you realize that the only way not to get crazy is by applying the technique you’re learning all the time. So, you try to meditate all the time. Awareness, feel the sensations and not evaluate your thoughts. You start learning you have no choice but “just observe!”.
The last 4 days, a feeling of anxiety arises and it was very difficult to deal with it. You can’t write your thoughts and feelings, you can’t talk to anyone but yourself, and despite the mind has learned to be quieter, you’re on your own. All your senses are improved by 10 times or more. And by now you have your personal routines well established on the campus.
The last day you are allowed to talk to other students and the preparation to come out and incorporate the learnings into your life begin.
The food (what a challenge!)
Because of the culture, because I wasn’t used to eat the foods they gave us over there. This was my biggest enemy. Not only physical but also mental.
During those days I ate everyday:
Breakfast (Aprox 750kcal)
- 6 slices of brown bread (500)
- 6 small bananas (250)
Lunch (Aprox 165kcal)
- 2 medium carrots (75)
- 2 medium tomatoes (50)
- A spoon of white rice (40)
Dinner (Aprox 450kcal)
- A spoon of peanuts (200)
- 6 small bananas (250)
Aprox total 1365kcal
Incredibly I just drank 2,5 liters of water a day. Compared to other places I had been which took me to numbers above 8L a day. My urine had no color so I believe it was enough. I only had some energy in the morning and at night. So in the last 2 days I ate 2 bananas at lunchtime and it made all the difference. When we are in big deficit, small changes make all the difference. My eating became like pill intake. And was really a challenge because of the smells in the canteen. Sometimes I almost threw up. And most of the days I didn’t feel like eating anything but breakfast. Never felt specific cravings. But in the last days I was tired of eating the same thing everyday. But I had no alternatives.
Now, 2 days after I still very hungry all the time. I’m still adjusting to Portugal time and my timetable again. And… Using Vipassana to control my eating. I feel no particular cravings but I feel the need of other flavors, smells and textures. I was lethargic all course and the last 4 days I had dizziness every time I changed body positions. So I decided to add salt at lunchtime. Just a tinny coffee spoon. I don’t know if it changed anything. By the end of the course I lost 4kg. Mostly muscle. And my first workout was really difficult.
After the course I know myself even better. I confirmed a few things fundamental to me. Things that have to do with food, sleep and material needs. Confirmed that freedom is one of my most important values, that I need to write.. Again I confirmed that tinny changes can make a difference… The power of vipassana meditation and the power of my mind (even when it is agitated)… I don’t need tv at all. And I found out the minimal things I can live with… My close relationship with nature, the incredible I can be communicating with others without intention and without even talk (found out by the end of the course incredible things people knew about me and the influence I had in them)… Strange things.
So, in a course like this you will find out things fundamental and non fundamental to yourself! And ways to deal with yourself, others, your mind and body. But most important: how days are so long (if you want them to be) and how much vipassana is good.
I still don’t know how I survived (physically and mentally). Was it the vipassana technique? Wonderful! Highly recommended for radical minds. A mental bootcamp!
If you need to change your life if you can’t find your way, if you need power, if you need to know yourself better, if you need a practical technique that really helps your mind to be sharper and stronger, if you want to know your limits, do it! It’s a lifetime experience! You don’t have to be as radical as I was and go to India to face different foods and climate and this as nothing to do with religion. See the Vipassana Meditation Website