Thoughts On A Three Day Silent Meditation Retreat
Updated: 2017-01

Meditation begins, as it always does, with eyes closed and a swirl of thoughts. They come rushing in, no matter how hard I try to focus on my breath or my bodily sensations. I give up multiple times. My body slouches. Frequently. Sometimes I even take a peek at the meditators sitting around me. This is just hour one. How can I tolerate another 30 hours?

On the other side, things seem great. My spirits are lifted. The world is both calmer and more vibrant. I am not in a rush, although the same things need to be done as before. The mind is pliable in this weird way. How could three days of meditating produce such changes? How long will this feeling last? I do want it to last.

The possibility of doing another silent meditation retreat came upon me suddenly but the choice was clear once I considered it. The summer had been exciting but hectic. With endless conference travel, a long to-do list, and unresolved uncertainties about the future, it was hard to be in the moment. A silent meditation retreat is, among other things, a hard-reset button on the pace of life. It’s also hard work and not the vacation some of my friends perceive it be. The Vipassana meditation schedule is brutal — wake up at 4am with the gong and finish at 9pm.

During this trip, I came to realizations, which, although seemingly hackneyed, were important for me. I share these below, mostly for myself, but also in the hope that others may find them helpful.

  1. See “Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles” for the latest in this string of literature.