Day 5 –  I felt “sad” and “tired” (really, really tired actually). So I let the tears come when they felt like it and I napped during the afternoon break and was back to my peaceful self by evening. This was also the day of my 2nd interview, this time with Steven. I told him I was feeling tired and sad. And I proceeded to explain where I felt the sadness came from. He reminded me to let go of the story around the sadness and just feel it. One of the ‘lessons’ is around being able to simply sit with whatever emotion you’re feeling and not get all caught up in the story that goes with it – just feel the emotion. And then realize that you are not your emotions. Michelle said “not all emotions need to be acted upon, but they do all need to be understood”. Right. Thanks for the reminder Steven. I told him about a quote that popped into my head. In one of his books Paolo Coelho says something to the effect that ‘the more I tell my story, the less my story it is’. And somewhere in my head this was all coming together and making sense. I just couldn’t quite put it into words. It seems I get it on one level, but don’t have the words to explain it. Steven said “don’t try. If you understand it on an intuitive level, there’s no need to explain it.” Right. Part of the vipassana retreat is to get out of your head and understand things on a pre-cognitive/intuitive level. Great, seems like I’m doing this, so no need to try to figure out the words to describe it. Phew.

Day 6 – Irritated. Everything irritated me – and I mean everything…. the rain, the sound of someone breathing, the way someone sat….anything and everything. The thing is, as much as my head was telling me what was irritating me, I just didn’t get completely caught up in the “stories”. I just kind of sat quietly with it. Michelle and Steven who run the retreat are exceptional at letting you know that whatever happens for you in a retreat is exactly what should happen for you, and it is completely different and personal for everyone.  Still, feeling irritated isn’t all that enjoyable. I was happy to be back to my peaceful self by dinner.

Day 7 – We come out of silence. Instead of the 2pm sit, it was a time for questions about how we take whatever we’ve cultivated here and bring it with us to the ‘real world’. Then from 3:00-5:00pm it’s time for ‘mindful talking’. After spending a week with people you’ve never spoken to, you want to talk to them. See if the stories you’ve made up about them are accurate – and they rarely are. Still, some people might not want to talk as much as others, so be mindful of that. Also, don’t formulate your response while people are still talking. I don’t know about you, but I do this a lot…. Don’t be afraid to take some time in silence before  you respond. Got it. But to be honest, it seemed like most people just wanted to talk to each other!

At 5:00pm we come together again, sat in a circle and people were invited to share a ‘snapshot’ or insight of their retreat. It’s not mandatory, you speak if you want to. Here’s my snapshot:

  • In one of his teachings Steven said “any kind of comparing is conceit. It’s never accurate, it’s based on an accumulative assessment of ourselves”. When he said that I thought, Holy Crap! Am I ever conceited! I do this all the time! I sat with that for a bit and then realized that this ‘conceit’ is born out of insecurity, which is born out of the fear of not being loved (or more accurately, not being loveable, or deserving of love). The good news? I went through this without freaking out. I just kind of thought “huh, okay, onwards.” So thanks for that.

Then it was dinner and back to silence for the remainder of the day.

My home

My home for the 8 days.

Favorite View

One of my favourite views - the huts across the lake at night.

huts at night

Zooming in on the huts across the lake.