Being the Observer
This technique advocates the dissolution of "sankaras", which could be described as distortions or patterned ways of behaving. This dissolution happens through observing without judgement of or identification with the arising sensations. All distortions and patterned ways of reacting are said to originate from such sensations and apparently not reacting to them breaks the conditioned patterns of behaviour. I question where the actual initial trigger point for us is or what it is. Is it these sensations or is it something else?
The practise took me to a deep place, it was delightful to watch and be the observer, without needing anything to change (including the discomfort in my body from sitting for approximately 10 hours a day). It was wonderful to be in an environment with very few distractions and to allow the mind to relax and let go for such an extended period of time. I greatly value being the observer and watching my reactions to things. Yet, there is a subtle balance between being the observer and becoming distanced from our reality and experience. With Vipassana equanimity of mind was the signal of success and progress. Such stoicism doesn't feel aligned to me, and leaves us potentially vulnerable to the supression or denial of our feelings. Such suppression may appear to work for a while, though is it sustainable in the long term?
I believe we are here for a human experience to relate to life as it presents itself, to express from our souls and discover more about our true selves. We are here to feel, express and grow. I want to live fully in each moment and I don't feel that this is part of the Vipassana way.
Some of the possible benefits of attending a Vipassana retreat
I think Vipassana is potentially valuable in some of the following ways:
- to find more peace and stillness within
- to provide an environment to simply be without many external distractions
- to become increasingly aware and be the observer of oneself
- to heighten awareness of one's thoughts and how there is a tendancy for them to be based in the past or the future rather than in the present moment. Within thoughts there is generally a positive or negative association and both can lead to dissatisfaction (or misery in Vipassana terms), as they lead to non-acceptance of the current moment
- to encourage acceptance and non-identification with lifes dramas
- to explore how one reacts in the world and open to the possibility of responding rather than reacting habitually (this is explored solely through sensations rather than catching one's thoughts or emotions)
- to take time out of one's regular life, which is generally a valuable and rejuvenating thing to do
- to explore the impermanence of our experiences
- there will be other benefits and realisations which will be unique for each person, for example it encouraged me to question my truth and reminded me of the value of finding my way and also allowed me to experience deep Presence.
Right expression for me
However for me this energy was spontaneously arising as I softened and surrendered into what I was feeling. It felt like healing was happening through that bodily expression and it was having beneficial effects in other ways. It felt that such expression was more aligned for me at that point than sitting stoically. I know of people who have had deep spiritual experiences during Vipassana and have felt unsupported by the teachers who advocate observing without any expression or exploration. It feels like the teachers, while well-intentioned, are there to encourage you in following the Vipassana regime and are often ill equiped to deal with what may arise outside of these parameters.
Empath in such surroundings
Truth of the Soul
For me the impulse to leave early arose spontaneously. It came to a point where it no longer felt right for me to follow the practise, infact when I tried, I just couldn't, my soul didn't want to explore the technique anymore. When I internally asked if it were right for me to stay my solar plexus would tighten and in contrast when I questioned if it were right to leave I would instantaneously feel open and expanded. My answer felt obvious through the sensations in my body, despite the fact that from a Vipassana perspective sensations are to be viewed equanimously. Our bodymind is a valuable communication tool and not be ignored. I had gained what was right for me and now it was time to leave.
Our soul led decisions often defy logic, in this situation I had only less than one intense day of meditation remaining and rationally it would have been easy to convince myself that since I had come this far I may as well complete the course. I wasn't finding it particularly challenging or feeling overly unsettled. Yet the truth doesn't need to make rational or logical sense. The possibility of leaving had previously arose on day 5, however at that point my guidance indicated that it was right for me to stay, there was more for me to experience and I'm glad that I waited and even more pleased that I left when I did!
With love and blessings wherever your truth may take you, Fiona