After Shock Of Three Months Vipassana Retreat

 So, I left Lumbini exactly three weeks ago. As I wrote in my mail back then, I left the retreat flying and happy. What I didn’t reveal was that besides being very happy, which I genuinely was, I was also extremely miserable. Now I can say that the past three weeks have probably been the hardest period I have experienced last year.

Before you jump to blame the Vipassana, which it’s aftershock is indeed one of the main factors for my fault mood, you should know that I am determined to go back to retreat once the weather is better and as soon as I have enough money. Hopefully I will be able to return to Nepal in October/November. Right now that is the only thing I KNOW that I want to do.

If I would have written this mail a month ago I would have wrote with certainty that I am heading to London to be hosted by my Dharma friend, Martin, and try and reestablish the center of my life over there. That plan collapsed more or less the day I ended the retreat. Not only that, my relationship with Martin, who is an important and dear friend, significantly deteriorated. Frankly, I still can’t get over the idea that I will not be going to London next week.

The blend of the influence of the retreat, the lost London plan, the fact that I have no alternative idea as to what it is that I want until the next retreat and the adjustment to the changes that naturally took place while I was in Lumbini, such as the fact that Bibi Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel or the fact that Daniel really isn’t around anymore, left me lost and confused. For three weeks I was continuously seeking solitude yet feeling alone and lonely. I was doing my best to avoid almost anybody and at the same time longed to be washed with love and affection and my messages to the world were, I guess, confusing.

The changes I underwent in the past few months are simply extraordinary, and indescribable. And although I have not completed the process I was undergoing there, it seemed as if my mind already changed in what now seems an irreversible way.

I know now that as much as I thought I was preparing myself for a three months retreat, I was completely and utterly unprepared. There was no way I could predict the progress of my process or the overwhelming depths of insights and powers I found. The way I now perceive reality has changed significantly in so many ways, including for example my eyesight – the actual way I see objects.

If my preparations for going in proved to be insufficient, there was no way I could prepare myself for going out of such a process. I mean, yeah, I was told to take it easy and keep the practice going for as much as I can and expect some funny encounters with reality. Little did I know that after all the profound experiences of selflessness, emptiness, nothingness, COMPASSION, generosity and appreciative joy, I would come out of retreat and less then 24 hours later I will act in an extremely selfish and self cherishing ways. I actually found myself giving an ultimatum to someone I love trying to manipulate them to do what I want!!!!

And so I ended up feeling weird, misunderstood, upset, sorry for myself and ashamed for my actions and reactions. I was seriously worried that after all those countless hours of mindfulness and contemplation I have learned nothing. That I just wasted my time and everybody else’s time.

It wasn’t always like that. There were also uplifting moments of gratitude and joy and moments of patient and true care not just for my loved ones but also for other beings. There were many times that I experienced deep happiness and appreciation for my good fortune. There were moments where I saw and appreciated my own goodness, my own strength and wisdom and moments that I liked my interactions in the world. Somehow, the painful moments left a more profound impression on me. Probably because they involve other people whom I have harmed and whom I felt were harming me and these also have implications for the future.

So here I am, three weeks after this life changing experience, still somewhat confused and in the past few days feeling even lonelier than I thought would be possible. On the other hand I know that although its been going on for weeks, this is still an impermanent state of mind and as I do not really believe my mind anymore I also know that these feelings of loneliness have very little to do with reality.


3 Responses to After Shock Of Three Months Vipassana Retreat

  1. nora says:

    thank you for sharing this. just came from retreat and felt much confusion and distress along these lines–these very hard mind states, and also not even believing them or believing even my physical experience or perceptions of life even as they are not uprooted and continue to arise. it’s pretty rough, and hard to explain that however hard the transition is the learning is something you can’t ever want not have found, the way reality just opens up in a whole new way. you see the harm in so much of daily living even inside one’s heart, and how much more letting go there is to do even as it’s hard to quite feel clear enough to go on. so thank you, i actually googled ‘vipassana retreat coming home’ and found this, which just has really helped me feel a little less alone in my own home transition.

  2. Vince says:

    This may sound like a simple question but i’m wondering some things, first do you ever doubt the practice works? like that you’re convincing yourself of something thats not there. Im not saying you are i’m just asking because thats the question i kept asking myself when i did a 10 day vipassana which i didnt finish. Also, what are your thoughts on enlightenment? is it attainable? is it real? sorry to ask you these questions with nothing in return. I am grateful if you answer them but i understand if you dont. Thanks for your time

    • advaharma says:

      Dear Vince, Enlightenment is …. The boundless, vast emptiness of all there is. It is no more or less real than anything else. It is anything else. I’m sure you’ve had numerous glimpse into the true nature of your being which perhaps you didn’t recognize them to be That. Practice works for me but I appreciate we are all different. The gates to the deathless are numberless – vi-passana might not be a suitable gate for you right now. Let that go. There is another gate for you which may or may not require your time and dedication. Either way the only requirement is that you would really want to know what it’s all about. If you’re really curios the answer will reveal itself to you at some point. The only piece of advise I can give you is that as much as you can stay away from spiritual materialism. There is nothing to gain. Nothing to attain. The truth is always there. It is so so so simple. It requires everything from you but it really is about nothing. It really is nothing. And at the same time it is also everything. with metta


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