Trying Vipassana – First hand experience

Trying Vipassana

If you ever thought of trying Vipassana this post is perfect for you. Here you can read a firsthand story of how trying Vipassana can be. While working on another project I have I got in contact with Samer Yousef. He is a traveler whom had something interesting to share.

What is Vipassana?

Vipassana is a way of meditation which focuses on breathing and of thoughts, feelings and actions which are being used to gain insight into the true nature of reality.

Vipassana meditation was reintroduced by the Theravada-tradition by Ledi Sayadaw and Mogok Sayadaw and later it was popularized by Mahasi Sayadaw, S. N. Goenka, and the Vipassana movement. Due to how popular Vipassanā-meditation has become, the mindfulness of breathing has gained further popularity in the west as mindfulness.

Trying Vipassana – First hand experience

The story

Since this experience has been requested to be shared from people of different nationalities I will write about trying Vipassana in English!

The outskirts of Battambang, Cambodia.
15th of Mars to 26th of Mars 2017

Approximately nine months ago I started my gap year. Six of those months were spent in Norway where I dedicated myself to several purposes: earning money to afford a trip like this, to gather experience from different professions in health care, and to test myself if I would make it on my own.

It all went as planned

Roughly three months ago I started my trip in Bangkok and throughout Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam I got to Battambang, Cambodia. The main reason of this trip was to explore, learn and taste the life of others. To have a culinary adventure, to feast my eyes on everything from wild primary jungles to huge cities. However, I have encountered many others that have done this exact same trip, but with other intentions. To find themselves. And while I have full respect for that purpose, it was not mine. I felt like I was standing on a solid base, knowing who I was, what principals I had and what to expect from my life. Be that as it may, I have doubtlessly learnt a lot, partly through backpacking and partly through meditation or rather time spent alone with myself.

Monk amongst monks

For the past ten days I have been living as a monk, amongst monks, locals and other foreigners. Ten days of being locked up, literally within the course boundaries and more abstractly speaking, in my mind.

As I entered the great gates of the Dhamma Lattika Meditation Center I had no clue what to except other than what this lovely Dutch girl I met on the road had told me. “I would never have done it if I knew how it was going to be, but now when it’s over, I’m glad I did it” she proclaimed with relief in her eyes. Anxious, nervous and, frankly, quite frightened I registered, handed in my valuables and decided to give it a shot. At least I will learn something, eh?

The method

The method of Vipassana is simple, at least in theory: you start out by observing your respiration “diligently, patiently and persistently”. You observe the natural flow, as it goes in, as it goes out in order to sharpen your awareness. You later on focus on the sensations this natural breathing causes as a second step to become more mindful. After a while sensations and the observations of these, throughout the entire body, was the main focus. You were asked to observe these sensations objectively and remain equanimous (läs: likgiltig) to the reality as it is and not how you want it to be.

The core

The core of the Vipassana is based on three pillars. The first one is “Sila” – five moral conducts (thy shall not kill, lie etc). The second one being “Samadhi” – to become the master of your own mind. To be able to concentrate and observe reality as it is, without any rationalization or emotions involved. Finally you practice “Panna” – wisdom. Empirical wisdom, gathered by observing your respiration and your sensations with the understand of the “universal law of impermanence”. Everything that arises will eventually pass away. With this knowledge you are taught to “release yourself from all misery and suffering”

The teacher

At times S N Goenka, the teacher, would advise us to observe, not only the uniform subtle sensations, but also the gross, intensified, solidified sensations (or as we mortal call it: pain, severe, excruciating, utter pain). This turned out to be rather challenging to put it mildly. Not only should we observe it, but remember and this is crucial, we should observe it with perfect equanimity.

While these “gross, intensified, solidified sensations” were in abundance I merely felt glimpses of inner peace and harmony, tiny vibrations that made me feel like floating on clouds. These moments felt surreal and were certainly enchanting. These couple of minutes made it all durable.

Inner conflicts

During my stay I had multiple inner quarrels. Inner conflicts. Am I to view this experience with humble eyes, accepting everything blindly to give it a fair trial or am I to view it with my critical and scientific pair of glasses on? However romanticized this review may sound, at times, I felt strong aversion towards Vipassana. The chanting. The alternative medicine. The patriarchal structures. And although there is much to complaint about, this text is already long enough and it is time for the closing part.

Ten days

Ten days were set aside for meditation. Ten days of noble silence. Ten days of pain, with glimpses of inner peace. Ten days with inner quarrels that made me realize things about myself and my relationship to others. Ten days that made me appreciate all the things I already appreciated, even more. Ten days.

Written by Samer Yousef.

Trying Vipassana – First hand experience

That was his story about trying Vipassana. I hope you enjoyed it and if you want to follow his traveling you can visit his Instagram. Thank you for sharing your story Samer!

Have you tried anything similar? Feel free to comment below and tell us! 🙂

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