Leaving the world for TEN days to meditate — my experience at a silent meditation retreat

Tokyo, Japan —

A few months have past since I went to a ten day silent meditation retreat center near Dallas, Texas, and I am looking forward to going on my next one at some point in the next 6–12 months. These meditation retreats are free all over the U.S. and if you are interested in signing up for one, I would encourage you to do so here.

The following piece is edited for greater clarity although the original, stream of consciousness writing style can be found on my blog here. This version will in all likelihood be easier to read:

So, I just got back from a ten day silent meditation retreat in Kauffman, Texas. I was a little scared when I first decided to go, but I had already scheduled it, taken the time off to go do it, and booked my flights at this point, so I did not have much of a choice.

I had been meditating via Headspace for a few months leading up to it, so I thought perhaps that would better prepare me for the experience.

It didn’t…

But, if you want to gain peace of mind in your inner life, and control how you react to situations that negatively effect you, then I highly recommend you taking the ten days out of your “busy” schedule and DOING IT!

So, why did I do it? Largely, it was because I felt stuck, and I saw where my life was headed 5–10 years down the road if I continued to stay on the path I was headed…and I was, honestly, terrified.

Another major reason I decided to go was that I having a tough time dealing with the expectation of where I was versus where I should be, which had me in a largely depressive state leading up to the retreat.

Dealing with this crisis of meaning, I decided that the best approach was to significantly work on improving my approach to my mental health, and what better way to do it then attending a meditation retreat and “leaving” the real world for a little while?

While I was gone for ten days with zero access to technology, and with no ability to communicate to anyone else taking the course, I was forced to confront my own thoughts, my own insecurities, and many of the issues I mentioned above.

I was taught how to better control my emotions and be present to what was unfolding around me, while trying not to be so judgement not just of myself and my own expectations, but of other people around me. I was able to cut through many of the distractions in my external environment, and focus on what the ‘real’ problems were, versus what I thought they were. And I was able to think through what I would have to do in order to change my life for the better in the future, and who I would have to become. At the time of this writing, I am still working on many, many aspects of this, as many of us are.

What else?

I realized how addicted I was to technology and my phone, and noticed that for the first days I was experiencing symptoms of withdrawal because I didn’t have a phone to look at before going to bed.

I realized just how much my back pain had evolved because of the long hours of wearing heavy backpacks and how much work I would have to do to start reversing the pain, and taking care of both my back pain and my physical health, which were intimately tied to my emotional and mental health.

There were many times during the course I asked myself why I was doing this?

And I don’t consider myself the most social person of all time, BUT not being able to talk, read or write made me start to think I was mentally losing it a little bit, I even had a dream where I started talking to an inanimate object. It reminded me of Tom Hanks and Wilson from Cast Away.

That was tough.

A final point in reflecting on this experience, is that I realized how much nothing really changes in your life when you get off the grid,

I mean thought I was SO important, so prestigious, and how much would go wrong if I just went off the grid for ten days.

Nothing did.

There were very few messages and important notices when I got back that actually mattered, it was shocking.

In conclusion,

If you care about self-awareness, are similarly dealing with a crisis of meaning, and care about working on your humility, then there is no better way then getting off the grid and going to a silent meditation retreat center for 10-days, or longer.

And even though it was very, very hard, I am glad I did it and I know it will benefit many others who also choose to go.

Although 10 days is a lot of time to give, or at least that is how it feels while you are there, in reality, it is truly a small sacrifice to make to learn the inner principles of vipassana meditation and to learn how to control your emotions and reactions to the vices of craving and aversion, so that they do not impede your progess in the future…

Appreciate your time,

Dhruv Sehgal