Day six—or was it day seven?—was hard. 18 waking hours made for long days and I unhappily discovered my thoughts and awareness of sensation could now exist peacefully together. Suddenly, I had spent two hours feeling sensations across my body while questioning my opinions on monogamy and nonmonogamy. Suddenly, I’d been feeling sensation as my attention moved from head to toes, toes to head, while I thought through the future of my career. Certain sittings felt great, by which I mean easy, fast, and comfortable. The mind was beautifully focused without distraction and the body felt no pain at all. This, however, was always a red flag, for I quickly began to crave these sittings and hate the harder ones. This, of course, is part of the practice—accepting your reality “as it is” instead of how you want it to be.
On the ninth day, we broke the Noble Silence and everyone could use language for the first time since we began. I wasn’t ready. I took myself walking on the path while I heard female laughter in the distance. I spent time with the familiar ants and the intricate spider webs stretched between the tall grasses. I watched scattered groups of women move together and I couldn’t join them yet. I had so many thoughts to be with before exposing them to air.
Going into the Vipassana, I had very strong opinions about relationships, about routine and contentedness, about personal freedoms and morality. Driving away on day 10, I felt completely detached from so many of these perspectives I’d built my identity upon but it didn’t feel like a loss. It felt like the beginning of a new education.
I had uncovered some deep patterns that begged for my breaking. I wanted, for the first time ever, to confront my aversion with routine and address my insatiable craving for newness and amplification of experience. I had clarity and perspective to challenge my opinions on modern relationships. And I felt inspired by the subtleties that live within that same cup of coffee we taste every morning, the familiarity and comfort of the touch that connects us to those we care about, the frigid winter air we dread confronting, the smile we share from neighboring porches, the frustrations and grudges we nurture, and the range experiences, however mundane they may feel, that make us human.