Returning from a 3-day silent meditation retreat, I found myself reflecting on how my previous 10-day Vipassana retreat had sparked a profound journey of personal and spiritual self-discovery. The 3-day retreat, however, proved to be more challenging than I'd anticipated, shattering my initial assumption that it would be easier than the 10-day one. The knowledge I gained from these experiences revamped my understanding of meditation and its role in personal development, compelling me to share these insights with you.
In this candid and introspective episode, I detail the moments of clarity and life-changing realisations I had during the retreat, including a surprising revelation about the future direction of Personal Development Mastery podcast. I also delve into the struggle of maintaining momentum with Vipassana meditation after the retreat and the lessons I learned from this. For those curious about Vipassana, I discuss the technique and its transformative potential. So, join me as we explore the profound impact of silent meditation retreats on personal development and spiritual evolution.
Listen to the episode about my 10-day silent meditation retreat experience (#267):
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Please note that while an effort is made to provide an accurate transcription, errors and omissions may be present. No part of this transcription can be referenced or reproduced without permission.
Agi Keramidas 0:04
Welcome to Personal Development mastery podcast episode 333. So last week, I went in did a three day silent meditation retreat, a vipassana retreat. And if you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you might remember that last year I did the 10 day, silent meditation retreat, for which I had recorded an extensive special episode with all my experience lessons, the actual Vipassana meditation technique, and so on. And you can listen to that episode too, if you want. And today, in this short episode, I will discuss what I learned from doing the three day silent meditation retreat. So if you're interested in meditation, even more, if you're interested in a silent meditation retreat, then keep listening because there's going to be some very interesting things for you to discover. And let me start by sharing why I decided to do such a thing to go through three days of silence. And there are two main reasons. The first one is that when I did the 10 day retreat last year, I enjoyed it so much. Well, despite the huge challenges, it was a rewarding experience and insightful and enlightening experience. And doing again, a retreat of a shorter duration, this time or something that I wanted to do, or in a way I needed to do. The second reason why I decided to go was that after I finished my 10 day retreat last year, I started practising this specific kind of meditation Vipassana meditation every day, unfortunately, and I'm going to be completely transparent with you here. Unfortunately, over time, over the following weeks and months, the momentum started waning away, it started to decline. So around the second quarter of this year, I stopped practising it completely, and went back to the previous technique of meditation that I was chosen, which in this particular case is via a meditation app called waking up by Sam Harris. And even though I enjoy and find value in meditating using the app, I realised that personally Vipassana meditation was more suited to me, I found it more beneficial, I found that I could go deeper, concentrate more easily, and so on. However, as you probably are aware, once you lose momentum, it's not that easy to pick it up. Again, to use that phrase, if you fall from the horse, the more you leave it without getting back on the horse, the more difficult it gets. So the second and most important reason why I wanted to do the three day retreat was this kind of refresher course, something that would reignite my momentum in this particular meditation practice. Of course, apart from these two reasons, another motivator for me to go again was that the journey of personal development and self mastery is a timezone I feel it is connected with the path of spiritual evolution, if you want or the journey to realise my spiritual nature. And for me, meditation apart from the proven benefits, it offers like calming your mind, or improving your concentration, your health, lowering your blood, blood pressure, all these wonderful things. For me, meditation also has this deep rooted spiritual aspect.
So these were the main reasons that I revisited the centre that I did my 10 day retreat last year. And one thing to clarify here is that this three day course is only available to students that have previously completed a 10 day course. So if you were thinking to start your silent meditation experience with a three day course, which admittedly, is easier and much more practical as well because it's easier to find three, three and a half days in your schedule than to find and block out 10 days. Unfortunately, that is that is not the case. You can do a three day course unless you have done a 10 day course. For me, having experienced the 10 day course, I realised very well why it is like that because in 10 days, you have the time to really go deep and have insights that are difficult, if not impossible to have in just three days. It makes sense the more days you are immersed in this silent environment, meditating all day without having any distractions, the further you can go into the the depths of the mind and the more insights you can have. So having said all that, let me describe my experience during this three days. The Vipassana centre that I attended the course is in a rural area of the UK called Suffolk. And it is the same centre that I did my 10 day retreat last year. When I arrived there, I had a big smile and a big sense of satisfaction internally being in that familiar environment that I had spent 10 days the previous year, and I had all those realisations. And again, if you're interested in finding out more about those, I recorded a very detailed podcast episode last year, which you will find the link in the show notes.
And so in terms of the actual experience, the course started in the evening of Wednesday, which was, let's say the day zero. And let me start first by explaining a few things of how it works. During the course, there is no speaking, there is no reading or writing, there are no phones, there is no communication with the outside world. In other words, there are no distractions, one is left to face and work with only their own mind. The days have a very specific and strict schedule. So the gunk to wake us up would be wrong at 4am. And at 4:30am is the first session of meditation, then there is breakfast at half, six and a rest break. Then at eight, another meditation session at 11 o'clock, there's the lunch break. And I will talk a bit more about the middle times in a moment that they pretty much carried on in a similar way, ending at 9pm. With lights out at 930. In total each day, we would meditate for around 10 to 11 hours. One other thing to mention is that we're about 80 participants, 80 students. And what happens in this retreat is that the male and female students are separated. So we have different living quarters and different dining rooms. The only place that we get together is the meditation hall, even though we are completely on the opposite sides of the room. And generally, one of the rules there is to avoid eye contact with the other students because the whole point is to work with yourself work as if in isolation, as if you were on your own. Before I discuss my personal experience and insights, there is one last thing I will mention here, and that's coming back to the meal times I was saying earlier, so during the full 10 day course, the new students are allowed a light dinner at 5pm. However, for the old students, and in this particular case, all of us there were old students since we all had already completed a 10 day course in the past. So for the old students, there is no denas there is only tea or lemon water and that happens basically because it deepens one's meditation practice. For me as a side note here, it gave me the opportunity for two days at least, to have a 19 hour intermittent fasting because breakfast would be at 630 and we would finish eating our lunch before 12 noon so that gave about
Agi Keramidas 9:59
a five hour window of time restricted eating, which I actually enjoyed. And it reinforced in me, the conviction that that I can easily do that as an intermittent fasting practice whenever I want. And in terms of my actual experience, the first thing that I will share is that, to my surprise, it was harder than I thought it would be, especially day one was expecting that having done 10 days last year, doing only three days would be much easier. But that was not what I experienced. And reflecting on this, I believe that the reason was that some time of adjustment to this routine is necessary. So that came as a surprise to me to find that it was more difficult than I thought it would be.
Agi Keramidas 11:04
And also a great lesson for me not to underestimate the challenges that are inherent in this retreat in this experience. Of course, it is so much worth it. And the challenge is necessary for one to advance and grow in their life.
Agi Keramidas 11:24
During the meditations, I had some powerful moments. Before I started the course I had set my intention to have more awareness or an insight or simply put, to gain some clarity about my next steps. And I certainly did have that. And one of the things that I got clarity about as a next step was the direction of personal development mastery podcast. And I'm going to share these things with you. Not today, but in a couple of weeks because the podcast will take a different direction. I will leave it to that for now as a surprise to build the suspense and not spoil it at the moment. So stay tuned for more of that. -.
Agi Keramidas 14:22
And well before I start concluding this episode, let me also briefly discuss a couple of things. The first is a very brief description about the technique of Vipassana meditation. So there are two stages. The first one is to observe the natural breath without changing it, just observing it and the more you do it, the more you'll sharpen your concentration of the mind. The second states follows this sharpened awareness of the mind. And the second stage is observing by scanning the body, observing the changing nature of the physical structure and also of the mental structure by observing the changing nature of the body's sensations. One comes to realise the impermanence of these sensations. And generally the impermanence has a universal truth. So that's an overly simplified explanation of the technique. And I had gone into much more detail about all this in the episode I did last year about the passion. And again, if you find this interesting, you will find the link in the show notes so you can listen to that episode in more detail. I said conclusion, or as a result of all this, I have now made the commitment this time to practice every day. Well, I practice meditation every day anyway, but I'm going to practice Vipassana meditation every day and since I have returned, I have been doing it every day.
I will invite you if any of this sounds interesting, if you're intrigued by this to explore the possibility of attending every person or course yourself. They have centres that do courses all around the world in different languages. And you will find the link to the Vipassana website in the show notes Also, if you have any questions about what I shared, feel free to reach out and I'll be happy to discuss with you. And if you need some encouragement towards finding the determination to do a silent meditation retreat, I can certainly help you with that. Thank you for listening. Hope you found it useful, and I look forward to your comments or questions about it.
And before I leave you for today, I will share one more time that asked my listeners you can get my first book 88 actionable insights for life for free and exclusively also before its official public launch. You can go to our AGIKERAMIDAS.COM/88 and you can download your free copy. As a final reminder, for the time being the podcast has one episode a week, each Monday, and not two. This is going to change back to two episodes a week very soon in the next couple of weeks. And as I hinted earlier, some exciting changes coming up. I'm not going to reveal anything else yet. Just stay tuned. Until next time, stand out don't fit in!