Stay silent and sit still for 10 days? My first meditation retreat
10 days being silent and meditate? Before I came to Mazunte, Mexico to Hridaya Yoga, I had not heard of anything like that, not even in India. I am generally a quite active person, as soon as I am lazy for 2 days and do nothing, I become restless and almost have a feeling of guilt. In the 3 months I was already at this yoga center, I was occasionally encouraged to meditate, but I really did not understand it: sitting still and listening to the thoughts – I felt nervous after just a few minutes, my skin began to itch, legs fell asleep and my thoughts were not so pleasant to me. I did not know much about silence. I was able to do active yoga for hours alone or walk along the beach forever, but I did not understand why I should sit down and meditate. Now I was invited to participate in the 10-day meditation and silence retreat, should I try it out or was it just not for me? I was not easy with the decision. In the end, I let myself be convinced and written on the list, without a good prior experience in meditation.
Daily schedule for the 10 days:
07: 00-09: 00 Meditation > 09: 00-09: 45 Breakfast
09: 45-11: 00 Lecture > 11: 00-12: 30 Hridaya Hatha Yoga
12: 30-13: 00 Meditation > 13: 00-15: 30 Lunch and break
15: 30-18: 00 Meditation > 18: 00-18: 30 Individual practice
18: 30-19: 15 Dinner > 19: 15-20: 15 Guestion and Answer
20: 15- ~ 21: 00 Meditation
Time in which I should sit and if possible not move: 2 + 0,5 + 2,5 + 1 = 6 hours
The first two days were hard, but I liked the yoga, the food, the long break at the beach and the lectures of the leader of the retreat, Sahajananda, very much. But the meditation hours felt always eternal. I tried to sit down in a way my legs don’t immediately fall asleep, but after 10 minutes at the latest, my body required attention in several places. I went almost mad, always opened my eyes again and again and looked around in the room to see what the others were doing. Naturally as inconspicuous as possible. My back hurt a lot, especially upper back, the same pain recurred every time, even after only about 10 minutes. Sitting straight was very difficult for me. My thoughts were racing. We had to follow a method, where you always count on 1-7, then 1-14, then 1-21 etc. If you lose numbers because of thoughts, you were supposed to start again from the beginning. It made me angry and frustrated because my thoughts were not even important. I think I did not even count to 28. In the evening I got a headache and couldn’t concentrate anymore. The 45 minutes evening meditation felt like silent torture. I decided on the second evening that I will cancel on the 3rd evening, since some people will only stay for 3 days anyway. Everything in me rebelled, I cried myself (without sound of course) into sleep.
On the third morning I already had a headache in the morning, everything on my body felt tense. We were supposed to count again in the first meditation of the day, I was so annoyed by this method that I did not even start counting. I had no idea how to get through this day with these headaches, so I started to relax my mind in my meditation, I tried to feel where this pain comes from. When I relaxed my head in that way, the thoughts became less. My breath was suddenly calmer and deeper, it felt like a breath pendulum that caused me to go deeply into a relaxation. It started to feel like a trance, the body felt so light at once, the discomfort occurred in the background. I felt so comically clear, joy came up and I saw a lot of blue light. I had never experienced such a silence as if my head had slipped into my stomach. I was absolutely amazed, this condition was so far unknown to me. Is this meditation? If so, I began to understand the stimulus … The headache was gone and the day went well, although I couldn’t repeat the process, but I used my breath again to relax in the direction of trance. Counting I did not dare. There waa no more thoughts of canceling, I wanted to go deeper. Even though I had pounding headaches in the evening and couldn’t stand any more light. Again I fell asleep in tears. Even if that day I had one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, I was afraid of the next 7 days.
Day 4, the headache is better. In the morning, it took me 45 minutes to get back into this deep state, it is not so simple, the thoughts were still difficult to turn off and always steered me off again. But then, I spent nearly an hour in light, quiet happiness. After that I was still slow in the head for 1 hour and did not work as before, all colors were so intense, the senses seemed much stronger. It was also much easier to meditate with an eye mask and earplugs as a beginner. In the afternoon it was hard for me to let go and I rather sit the time, but the positive experiences had encouraged me to keep trying. We learned a method in which the two halves of the brain are completely relaxed and darkened in the meditation. And also we were supposed to imagine that on forehead, nose, mouth and chin, neck and chest an invisible smile lies, this helped me immensely. What also brought me deep to the breathing, was to focus on the breaks between the breaths and to imagineto the pauses between the breaths as silent drum beats.
Again and again I had moments, where everything became too much for me and I just couldn’t sit anymore. Then again deep meditations, giving me an energy that I did not know before. In the yoga lessons, I felt more and more each breath and experienced it as a moving meditation – I felt more and more as permanently on mood brighteners. Relaxation while lying down after yoga felt like I’m going to leave my body and float 2m above myself, in yellow light. I wanted to laugh loudly and talk to others, but of course I stayed silent. Absolute highlight were the evenings, when Sahajananda read our questions and answers, it felt a little like communication and we even laughed sometimes, just no eye contact. Sometimes when I was all alone on the beach during the break, I talked quietly with myself and laughed about the situation. More and more, I was disbelieving that for 25 years I had no idea that one could put oneself into such states. I had never been so happy, even though I still had deep and painful moments every day. In the night in my dark tent, I saw so much light and was lying awake for so long, completely free of thoughts. No idea if I fell asleep.
So the days pass, it was getting easier, even if I sometimes sat there 2 hours and felt frustrated, if something did not work. On Day 9 I meditated so deep that I felt that my body is only light, nothing physical anymore. Everything vibrates and is full of colors. In words, the whole can hardly be described. Although seconds ago my body hurt and my legs ting, there is no more pain. I did not know where I was, but no longer in this body and that felt amazing. The retreat was ending more and more, and I felt that my whole world has been turned upside down. I would call myself a fast, annoyed, cynical, nervous and impatient person, with sleep problems, regular physical pain and many doubts, in everything. Although I was always very fierce and try to live my dreams, but the abyss always felt very close. In the moments of deep meditation (as far as I learned there), I felt happy, light and strong, and deeply concentrated. For a long time, I was not a believer and rather pessimistic, but this experience seemed like a miracle to me.
On the last evening the silence is broken and I can finally tell everything and look again in the mirror. At the same time it is as if the spell was broken. The next day the everyday life starts again, I have to take care of things and not only follow the daily schedule of the retreat. For 1 week, I go to meditation every morning, but more and more I lose contact with this inner peace, meditation becomes a tangle of thoughts again. Still, this experience nobody can take from me and I know I’ll get back there. I am still a very beginner in this field and can not expect too much. My life has definitely changed, I must find a way to find this feeling in me regularly. Nevertheless, during the months after that, I gladly talked about it and reflected on it, but I never felt the same lightness (only when I took hallucinogenic mushrooms, which does not count). This should only change when I visited a second retreat a year later.
Hridaya Yoga in Mazunte is definitely one of the most beautiful places to make such a retreat, but Sahajananda also gives the same retreat twice a year in Romania. There are many similar offers around the world, and I have heard from friends that, for example, The Vipassana retreats should be intense, hard and good. In any case, I can only warn: silence and meditation are addictive and can trigger a change in your whole life!
I would love to read about your meditation experience! 🙂 Read about my second retreat here.