In October of 2016 I met a lovely, young woman, kind enough to drive me and one of her friends from Riverview, Florida to Jesup, Georgia for what would be our first 10-day silent meditation retreat. Brittany was a real estate agent, divorced with one child, and newly wed with a second daughter. A close friend had attended and highly recommended the Southeast Vipassana Center, so she and hubby decided he would stay home first to watch the kiddos and switch off after her return.
As for me, I was feeling desperate to venture out and do something completely different. But having little cash at the time, the Universe worked her magic and led me to an online video discussing silent meditation retreat centers and how they cost nothing to attend. They do ask that you donate what you can after completing the full 10-days, as a way to pay it forward for the next attendee, which sounded more than fair.
I was lured in by the concept of complete silence because I had a serious life altering decision to make: whether or not I was going to end my marriage. Ten days seemed a fitting amount of time to take for such a permanent resolution. As the scheduled date approached a pivotal conversation with my then husband left no doubt in my mind that divorce was certain. My intention now centered on dropping egoic attachments and making peace with my decision. Being unsuccessful in a consistent meditation practice at home, I was more than ready to experience what I guessed would be to some extent a type of meditation boot camp.
I wouldn’t be able to bring reading material or even a journal to jot down any revelations that came to mind during meditation. As someone who takes comfort in writing down my thoughts you could imagine I was a little disappointed. But if I had to rely on recall alone to share any visions or memories that sprang up so be it. There was an important reason as to why they made this request, so I respectfully honored it. I was simply too grateful to be gifted a quiet space to get clear.
When I returned home I tried to recapture the epiphanies that stood out using my cell phone recorder, but I purposefully deleted them. I remembered that my need to hold onto what I experienced was due to my ego. And that the whole point of Vipassana meditation is to keep an equanimous mind – not to cling to or crave a certain positive outcome, and not to be adverse to a negative outcome. So why am I choosing to write about it now? Simply to express my gratitude for the time I spent at the center.
I had profound moments of acceptance, joy, compassion, forgiveness, love, oneness, as well as deep sorrow, remorse, impatience and irritation. My visions, dreams and inner wisdom heightened not only because of the meditation time, but also due to walking and being in nature every day, and having healthy meals prepared for us three times per day.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. But I would more than likely visit a center that follows a meditation practice other than Vipassana so I can incorporate new methods of expanding my consciousness.
Have you had experience with meditation retreats? I’d love to hear from you.