Vipassana Mental Boot Camp

I’m searching for words to describe… and with one last sigh of silence am left with a few of Goenka himself; for trying to describe my Vipassana experience would be like “trying to describe the color white to a blind man.”

A roller coaster of trepidation, frustration, anger, exhaustion, hope, determination, delight, denial, indifference, understanding, confidence, excitement, exhilaration, joy, compassion and finally… finally… overwhelming and equanimous love.

In THAT order.

Yes. Quiet a ride. And one that I would usher no one on. And why would I not wish such a perspective changing experience upon another?

Because you can’t gently push someone off a cliff.

Vipassana IS a cliff. Risk is involved. Screaming is involved. Pain is involved. Profanity is involved.

To quote my mind on Day 1, around the 10th hour of meditation…

“What the #$% am I doing in this @%$%&* mad house!?!”

Then, somewhere around my 20th hour of meditation on Day 2 I realized,

“All I’ve been asked to do is to live in my mind. Jesus. The “mad house” is in my head!”

Let me give you a typical example of my mental-mad house stimuli processing procedure:

“….that girl over there reminds me of my friend Sarah. I wonder what Sarah is doing in Guatemala today. God. I can’t believe it was over two years ago that we were in Korea. I think I’ve already forgotten the Korean alphabet. Can I even remember how to say thank you? Is it “abrigada”…no, that’s Portuguese. I should still look into teaching English in Brazil. I should email that girl that gave me her card. Where is that card? Is it in that bag under my bed? I hope Mom didn’t give that bag away to goodwill. Man. There’s so much stuff I’ve gotta take to goodwill.”

Okay. Stop.

That was twelve different and hardly related random thoughts strung together and “thought” in a total of twenty seconds.

THIS is madness. And this is the state of my mind.

Now admit this mental crack case into the mental boot camp of Vipassana…

Ten days. 100 hours of sitting mediation. One task.


Starting at 4:00 am each day, eleven hours are spent in continuous and concentrated effort to tame the beast of the brain.

To reel in thoughts.

To release grip and leave the past to swirl in its own dust.

To smilingly accept the wild and unpredictable nature of the future.

To align the mind with one, single, steady and continuous awareness of the moment of “now.”

And we’re only on Day 3 folks.

With the mind finally tamed onto task, Days 4-10 are spent learning the actual technique of Vipassana meditation. But I do not feel it is in my right to disclose the content of those discourses. Nor would it be in a prospective student’s best interest to have preconceived ideas or expectations of the course. So I’ll stop here. Besides, you already know if this is a cliff you care to challenge….or not.

I also bite my tongue on the inclination to eagerly babble off my exciting new personal enlightenments. Because I have only taken the first step down a very long road. And although I’ve been given some tools to scape the path in front of me, it still stands untilled (but full of potential.).

Path maintenance begins tomorrow morning — when I crawl out of bed at dawn, fold my legs, quiet my thoughts, and take my tamed mind for a walk in awareness and equanimity.

So tomorrow I will start the first day of the rest of my life with one meager hour of meditation. And as I keep you updated on my travels, I will also keep you updated on my progress along the path of Vipassana.

(Once again, if you feel like takin’ a jump off the Vipassana cliff, you can find a center near you by clicking here. All courses are provided freely and in goodwill so that money is not a factor.)

“When you step off a cliff into the unknown, you will either find something to stand upon, or learn to fly.”

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