Since my last post when leaving El Bolson and its friends almost a month has passed. Many places and experiences, but one in particular went deep inside me:
A Vipassana meditation retreat:
10 days of silence and no communication
to learn this antique technique discovered by Buddha over 2500 year ago!
Mendoza and Bariloche cities: a stop over on the way
The meditation retreat I applied for is starting in a week time near Cordoba, over 1800 Kms drive from El Bolson. Two logical stop on the way to break the travel are the tiny town of San Carlos de Bariloche surrounded by beautiful mountains and the vineries of Mendoza.
Bariloche, just 2 hours of bus north of El Bolson, is a very popular sky destination attracting lots of tourist also for its chocolate production.
After more than two months in the wilderness of Patagonia, I am a bit afraid by this middle town with nightlife, bars and as all the cities a bit of criminality! I decide then to soon escape to the near-by mountains. A pubblic bus bring me in half an hour to Cerro Catedral mountain, where the fog is so dense that I almost get lost on the mountain. Be carefull as usual weather on the mountains is changing fast.
A good plus of the visit to Bariloche is meeting back the family Bustamante!
Our route crossed the first time in Chile on the dirty road between Caleta Gonzalo and Chaiten. While driving on a dirt road we came across their camera lost on the pathway with all its memories. We drove back and suceeded to meet with Mario and Nicolas riding their bike. Their happiness when we gave back the camera was so rewarding for all of us!
Two bottles of the best Argentinian wine is the additional reward for this good action when I meet them few months later in Bariloche! Don’t worry Mario they both of them have been shared with new food friends! 🙂
Mendoza is the last stop to enjoy my first wine testing lesson in the winery Botega Sarmiento. I have here also my my last bite of meat (at least for the next 10 days) since the diet during the meditation retreat is purely vegetarian.
Vipassana meditation: the main rules!
I must admit it has been a truly amazing and unique experience for me, changing my way to approach Life!
To give you an idea of the challenges of this experience here are the main rules to be respect for 10 days:
Respect “The noble silence”: no talking, but even more difficult avoid any type of communication at all time! This means neither looking each other in the eyes. Imagine living with other 50 students for 10 days and not knowing anything about them, neither the names or where are they from.
Communication with external world are also avoided and mobiles collected the first day.
Renunce to harm any living being: this translate also in strictly vegetarian food! Surely the easiest rule to respect seen the delicious food prepared by the volunteers in the kitcken. Each course is indeed possible thanks to people who cook and take care of all the needs of students: Thanks again guys, you gave us a loot of energy and positiveness!
Meditate for “just” 10 hours a day, better if sitting still without moving arms and legs for at least a consecutive hour: not really my speciality!
Complete segregation between man and woman, no physical contact and no sex.
Don’t steal nor lie: should be easy to respect since we’re not speaking at all..
Avoid any time of intoxicant: no alcohol and neither smoking.
Why doing this Vipassana meditation retreat?
Meditation is a good for yourself!
I have been introduced by a friend to meditation when back in Amsterdam and just meditating once a week I obtained an incredible result: step out from the life I was living to live my dream and be here writing to share it with you all.
“Live in a monastery ” has been on my bucket list for a while… I know it’s not exactly a monastery, but it perfectly matches the experience I had in my mind.
Ten intense days, with a lot of questions and challenges, but also “something” everyday that gives the positiveness and energy to reach the end day after day. A long process and research inside me to discover my sensation and understand better how each of us works and the way to improve ourselves.
The target is about learning to control your mind and automatic reactions.
The challenge is to push away thoughts while meditating and focus only on respiration and sensations of the body. Easy to say, but not so easy to achieve.
The goal of Vipassana: help yourself to act more conciously and not driven by automatic reactions or passions. To be more conscious of your reaction and act as you with your morality truly desire. For few reaching the “enlightenment”.
As usual I am very curious and full of questions! Luckily one exception to the Noble silence exists: the interview with the professor. This is a moment of support where anyone can have a 5 minutes talk with the professor to clear questions and doubts about the technique. I immediately become an habitué!
I don’t deny these 10 days have been a real challenge for me! But I also can sincerely say that I would recommend it to all my friends and relatives enough open minded and interested in such experiencing to discovering themselves on a different, deeper side.
It will not change your religions or beliefs, but will dedicate some good time to yourself explore your sensations and your reactions to it.
And for the moment I keep meditating once a day 🙂
Vipassana: a simple explanation of this technique and my understanding.
The Vipassana is the technique though which Buddha reached the enlightenment over 2500 years ago getting free from the passions and desires that drives our living. Discovered back in its original form in Birmania the technique is now teached around the world for free: each course is given at no charge and only funded by donations of previous courses.
The course is aimed to teach how nature and our minds works, the learning is done by experiencing the sensations of your own body.
The 6 doors of senses (the 5 know senses plus the memory in your brain) give an input that is perceived, understood and to which we elaborate a reaction. Most of the time this reactions is automatic as a result of our experience and learnings during the first years of our life. Through meditation you reach to feel all the sensations of the body: pain or discomfort from a position, but also good sensations arising in our body. The learnings comes then by acknowledging the sensations but not reacting to them: this means also considering each sensation, positive or negative that it is, in the same way (with equanimity). Both the type of sensations are indeed are temporary and impermanent, as such they will come, arise and go away.
By not reacting to the physical sensations in an automatic way and avoiding feelings of anger (toward discomfort sensation) or craving (toward sensations of pleasure) we train the mind. This “new” behaviour of the mind for the physical sensations will automatically be reflected at a more conscious level in everyday life allowing not to react instinctively with anger or craving.
Few of the Questions and Answers I reached with the help of the professor:
Q: Is it a religion?
A: Nope, it only helps everyone who practice it to understand his own behaviours and be able to act with more morality in its life.
Q: Buddha got enlightened and hence he won’t re-incarnate.. If reincarnation exists, I want to live again?!
A: It’s a looong way to enlightenment, meditate with no fear 🙂 Moreover desires are a good thing, it’s the attachment to desires and the craving of them that is not good and doesn’t allow to live in armony.
Q: If I start not feeling anymore my leg because the blood doesn’t flow shall I move them?
A: Definitely Yes!
A special suggestion that worked in my case:
On the third day I did a deal with my own mind to help concentrating. In the meditation room just meditating and no thinking!
In exchange out the room directly in bed with the mind free to space in thoughts, dreams and ideas!
It really worked for me and got new energy and more concentration on my sensation in the meditation room
For anyone who wants to know more: www.dhamma.org