3 Reasons I’ve come up with not to attend a vipassana meditation retreat (besides the obvious reasons of physical pain, mental anguish, and potentially going insane of boredom):
1. Am I just running away from my problems? For me, thats living abroad in Australia. Things have been up and down for me in the 2 months I’ve spent there, and its actually easier for me to go do the next big thing than sit in the discomfort.
2 & 3 both fall under the category of FOMO (fear of missing out, a term created for the many times in life we waiver on what to do because we fear by doing one thing we’ll miss out on another thing):
2. Is this really how I’m going to spend my 31st birthday? I’m going to be on the 5th day of Vipassana on my birthday. What if I go insane and tear off all my clothes to run naked through the meditation hall screaming “it’s my fucking birthday!”.
3. I’ve just launched a yoga retreat company and planned a retreat for this January! I should be promoting it. Won’t it fail if I’m completely out of touch for 10 days?
There have been many more but for the sake of this blog I’m just listing the 3 main ones. Nevertheless, here I am in Java, Indonesia about to head out to what some call “self induced solitary confinement”. So, let me dissect these 3 things and explain why, despite them all, I’m going in (like, all the way in).
1. I’m pretty sure the definition of vipassana could be “sitting in the discomfort”. This rules out my first excuse about leaving Australia to run away from my problems. The truth is, I did have a share house fall through that I planned on being in until end of October. When that happened I decided to look into vipassana. I did look in Australia but they were full, and I always had plans to go to India in November for the Sattva Summit so it seemed to make sense to attend one in Indonesia as its on the way. While I was feeling emotional and a bit lost when I decided to book this vipassana retreat, I also have been thinking about doing one for a long time and why not now? There’s no time like the present. It seems like my entire life I’ve felt ’emotional’ and ‘lost’ in one way or another, at one time or another. So it might not be that I’m running away from my problems as its during these turbulent times that I seek for solutions.
2. As for my birthday, society has conditioned us to believe its a day we have to be celebrated aka validated. We need cake, parties, and presents. I recall my 30th birthday last year and the pressure I felt for this ‘big birthday’. I had multiple parties, dinners, and went traveling for a month. Interestingly, I was sick most of the time, so it made it more challenging to enjoy it. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something, but I didn’t want to listen. Now, a year older and I don’t want all that hype, noise and movement. Stillness and silence is what calls me to vipassana. The idea that only I will know its my birthday, only I can silently tell myself; “I’m so glad to be alive. I love you.” holds so much more meaning than anyone else singing me happy birthday at this point in my life. For I have spent the past 30 years seeking validation, only to find that the only person I really need to love me is me. I desire, enjoy, appreciate, and LOVE love with others, but it is my own self love that is crucial to not just my inner peace, happiness, and success. But for my survival. Without it, I act from a place of desperation and confusion. This leads me to self destructive and harmful behavior.
3. Finally, last week I launched Shakti Retreats and planned The Goddess Gathering by the Sea for this January in Bali. I am feeling super vulnerable putting myself out there as a teacher and retreat facilitator. I know full well I am leaping into the unknown and that I could fail. But I also have a huge calling to do it anyway so I’m taking the risk. In the vein of me surrendering to the divine intelligence, I will spend the next 10 days I could be promoting the retreat to do the inner work I feel is necessary to help me expand my container to hold space as a healer, teacher, friend, and human being to all I encounter in all capacities.
Okay, so I’m doing it. Am I going to be an enlightened after this or what? I keep jokingly saying to my friends that I will be by the end of November after vipassana and India. I do struggle with the notion of enlightenment. I don’t know that I believe I can achieve it in this physical realm. I don’t know if that is the goal. What is enlightenment anyway? My guru says enlightenment can not be fed to someone. That it must be realized through pain and suffering. As long as one is expanding there are no bad experiences. This comforts me as I continue to make choices that cause me pain and suffering (like sitting for 10 hours a day just might). Sure enough, lessons and growth always follow. So is enlightenment the ever flowing stream of life which moves through us? The obstacles on the path are the path as the pebbles in the stream are the stream.
I’ve heard so many stories from friends who have taken vipassana and google is filled with even more. But as I enter my own experience I intend to release any expectations of whats to come from the long sit. I open to what could arise, and I commit to full presence to the pain, suffering, and enlightenment available in every moment of life.
If you’d like to send me love during these 10 days, maybe a telepathic “Happy Birthday” on the 23rd of October, I’d be happy to receive it.
Love and light,
Elena Rose Davis