10 Days of Silence
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
If there is one thing you need to know about me is that I am an absolute extremist. When I look back at my life, I am an all or nothing kind of girl! I also really like to push my mental & physical boundaries all the time. Call it irrational or A-type personality I call it Paige. So maybe about 6 years ago my cousin in Cape Town had mentioned Vipassana – 10 Days of Silence & I think sneakily he planted the seed. I then traveled to Myanmar to see my dad and for years I kept seeing a Vipassana meditation center, so constantly seeing the word, taking it in & then obviously stored in the back of my mind. I love that the universe works this way, keeps placing growth in your path & only when you are ready to experience it do you realise how that seed has been manifesting.
I remember a week before I went in December 2019 that I was not nervous but rather the unexpected excited me, the challenge was enticing. When I told family members what I was about to do I got the same response every time, “Paige you keep quiet for 10 days, ha absolute joke.” Well I was going, and nothing would ever hold me back. I got a lift with another Vipassana student from the airport to Worster in Cape Town. The car ride there you could feel how nervous we all were. We spoke about ‘why,’ we are doing this. My ‘why’ was I want to know myself deeply, I want to know my character assets as well as my character defects. I want to know why I am like I am, irrational, blunt, loud, chaotic, peaceful, loving & angry. I am a busy human being, I over work, I burn out and do it again, I have all the time in the world for others yet don’t always have time for myself, I even stop myself from crying because it’s about ‘not having time for yourself.’ I also like to stay busy to not hear my own thoughts, to not listen to my body so in my mind Vipassana was almost forcing me to sit still physically & check in with myself mentally & emotionally.
I arrived 11 December 2019 at about 2pm & I got assigned to my room & my phone was taken away and at 6pm that evening they hit the gong and Noble Silence had begun, this means no talking, no mumbling, no making eye contact, no interactions of any sort, and then it sunk in the nerves took over and the unexpected became slightly daunting. 4am the gong is rung and you have half an hour to freshen up & at 4:30am you begin your first sitting, this was probably the hardest time for me to meditate, a 2 hour sitting first thing in the morning (when my mind is the most active) and now you must meditate. Hmmm the early mornings don’t bug me at all! I am an early bird but sitting still mind & body was probably one of my hardest challenges. The first 3 days you are taught the Vipassana technique – Seeing things for what they are. My first 3 days were HELL, physically my back ached the whole time I was sitting, so the only way to release my back ache was to bring my knees into my chest and wrap my arms around my legs and drop my head down just to stretch the back slightly, unfortunately this often resulted in me falling asleep which wasn’t because I was tired rather the mind creating a distraction. The mind avoiding itself. Mind blown when they told me this, but then you start to realize the power the mind has, how it tricks you. To be honest only by the 6th day did I really start to understand the discipline – you DO NOT need to respond or react to all the sensations in the body, including pain! Easier said than done, pins & needles and now you cannot respond to them? Challenging!
Physical pain was one thing but mentally you feel like a lunatic. The mind is so busy as it is but now you cannot say what is on your mind, you can’t hear someone’s advice or opinions & the only voice you hear is in your head! The idea of no communication is that you are not influenced by others, I had to see it for what it is, how I understood it or felt and then I started to understand the part I played, where the anger stems from, where my addictive behavior begun, I started to understand and accept myself.
Another beautiful shift that happened was when I stopped blaming everyone else and I took responsibility for who I am and that is such a powerful feeling.
One of my favorite memories of Vipassana was eating meals together. Without speaking to anyone I felt connected to people, it was so lovely to enjoy food together.
My hardest day was the 16 December 2020, my dad’s birthday and the strange thing was I have had years of not celebrating birthdays with my dad but for some reason I was so upset that I wasn’t able to even call him. It was the day I planned my GREAT ESCAPE; I was going to go into the admin find the keys somehow, get my phone, phone my cousin, and get out of here. But again, I watched my brain try to escape, I felt I was trying to run away, WHY? Because that is the easier option. It is hard to look at yourself deeply and, in my head, I almost had the attitude ‘but I did this in rehab.’ So immediately my own shadows started to show up again & this time I had to face them, make friends with them.
Day 7 was the first time I was able to sit down and not move a muscle, not open my eyes for a full hour & that was the craziest experience for me it was a moment of realizing my minds power. That no matter what sensation arises you cannot respond or react all the time, rather observe. The quick version of the technique is about scanning the body, noticing how the body talks to you. So for me I thought my right hip (old injury from ballet & CrossFit & not knowing when to rest) would just be in absolute pain but my back & shoulders were in agony, but then you start to understand the body is talking to you, it’s trying to warn you about what you are doing to yourself and the way I interpreted it was always carrying other people, a people pleaser yet no time for myself, that I felt it was weighing me down. I was weighing myself down. So, comes back to understanding your role and what you do to yourself. Repeating patterns.
Sitting and meditating 12 hours a day was not easy, my mind constantly shifted to fantasizing about future events & for some reason it would always turn to a negative outcome, so when I say you start to understand yourself on a deeper level I mean the parts we hide, the parts we pretend didn’t exist and I think it’s sad that I’ve done that, I am all of me because of my journey, so 10 days of silence changed my life! It made me see things for how they are, it made me understand that life must run like the pace of nature, in its own time, the right time, it made me feel love & appreciation like I have never felt before, it made me appreciate my voice and understand the energy it takes to talk, it made me listen better and understand I don’t always need to talk, it made me accept myself exactly the way I am and that is powerful!