No speaking, reading or writing and only two (vegetarian) meals per day.
If Vipassana meditation was meant to be the answer to modern misery, why did it sound so much like a communist prison?
A year ago, when I took the leap into freelance video production from a full-time corporate-world job, I wanted to gain some perspective, take some time out for ‘me’ and draw a line in the sand between the old and the new chapters of my life. However, work starting coming in so quickly that I couldn’t actually guarantee ten days (twelve including arrival and departure) where I wouldn’t be disappointing my new roster of clients.
Finally after three failed attempts, my availability and their course schedule aligned. I decided that no matter how irresistible the job, how juicy the day rate, I would commit to ten days of silence at the Dhamma Bhumi retreat in the Blue Mountains.
I had heard about it from friends over the years who had good things to say, but if you’d asked me what I thought I was walking into, I had envisioned moping around an old house in the hills alongside a handful of morose, bohemians, silently staring at the carpet. What I actually discovered was a sprawling spiritual retreat nestled in the splendor of Blackheath, the second oldest of it’s kind in the world and brimming with the vibrations of thirty years worth of contribution.
One-hundred students – aged twenties to fifties, divided into the male and female sides of the campus – would follow a simple, sequential process with the aim of understanding the method and theory of Vipassana Meditation. My modern cynicism was on high alert for any trace of a cult, but to me the system is faultless.
What you are learning is a process – free from rites and rituals, free of religious dogma, or the worship of gods or godesses. It allows you to maintain your faith (and respects your right to have none) but ultimately, what Vipassana offers you is a technique that is based around the observation of one’s own breath and body.