Defender Nathan spent ten days at a silent retreat in India and has kindly sent some photos and has written the below about his experience.
I was very nervous at first as I was stepping into the land of the unknown. I didn’t know anything about India, the retreat, which was in a village about 3 to 4 hours from the airport in Chennai and the only thing I saw prior to arriving at the retreat was a birds eye view layout sketch.
Vipassana meditations goal is to purify the mind to eliminate the tensions and negativeness that make us miserable.
Whilst at the retreat we were not allowed to exercise as exercise may interrupt with the focusing of the meditation. It was walking pace everywhere.
Each day started at 4am and finished at 9pm. During this time 11 plus hours was meditation.
The gong would sound three times with 20 second intervals to let us know we had 10 minutes until meditation started.
If you were not out of your bed in time, the assistant teach would come into your room ringing a tiny bell for ages until you were up.
We had to walk as far as 110 meters each time we wanted to fill up our water bottle. I would count in my head and time how long it took as I didn’t have my watch. It took on average 2 mins and 44 seconds each way in temperatures of 35-37 degrees!
I would drink 4-5 litres of water per day and have a wash 3-4 times as well. We had to fill up a bucket of water and then use a small cup to splash the water over us. We all had to wash our own clothes, wash our own dishes.
This all may sound tough, but it was all great fun going back to basics.
We all had to sleep on metal beds that did not have a mattress. I used my flat sheet and folded it many times to make a pillow. I had a travel pillow that I was going to use but I thought I wanted to experience the true art of living India so I could give an honest account of my time, so I just packed my pillow away in my suitcase.
I had many sleepless nights but managed some of my best sittings the next morning using techniques taught if you can't sleep to help the body recover efficiently.
My mind was saying I should be tired because I haven't slept but my body was full of energy.
I've learnt everything in life is constant moving energy vibrations so nothing stays the same. This means you will never be the same person you were a second ago.
The food was vegetarian and I'm a vegan, so the selection of a few was able to cater for my needs. But in India they put butter milk in some foods, so I had to listen to my intuition and not eat certain foods in case they contained milk.
Meals varied from coconut rice and some vegetable mixes. Some meals would be in a tin that was about 300ml full of chickpeas or various types of beans.
I thought I would get hungry but not once did I feel hungry, which helped to show me the power of being in control of the mind.
Thoughts of the skipper Darren Ward echoed at times during the retreat when energy was feeling low due to the heat. As I learnt from him, I began to layer my food when eating to make food consumption easier to breakdown and reserve more energy.
Throughout the 10 days you learn techniques to help observe sensations, but to minimise any meaningful connection to them and make them equanimous.
For example, the sweet tooth craving a person might receive isn't the food itself but for the sensation they get when consuming the food.
Similar to a person facing some form of misery they place attachment to the sensation that sweeps into the subconscious making their negative pattern a routine anytime they something similar arises.
By being aware you are letting the mind know the sensation is objective and your aware of it. As everything in life is energy and always moving, then so will this sensation end up passing with no attachment to stay.
I also lost close to a stone during the 10 days and feel great.
Some feel going away on holidays is relaxing, but the mind is still very much active. This helps get the mind relaxed, concentrated and away from all the mayhem.
I would advise people to do something like this retreat, regardless who you are, many people face many deep lying impurities in the subconscious mind. Some different to others.
Only you yourself can get to the deep levelled subconscious part of your brain. Doctors, psychologist etc only work on a surface level.
I will continue my practice and hope to show more of its benefits in the near future.
The vibrations felt through my body during this experience has definitely showed me there is a better way to live life through flowing positive vibrations.
Finally, thank you to my family, friends, the Yeovil Town fans and people I don't know who sent me messages of support before, during and after my ‘holiday’. It was nice to see after our mobile phones were returned at the end of the 10 days.