Click here if you would like to read an overview of 3 months wwoofing experience in Japan.
It was about 3 years ago when I first heard about Vipassana 10 days mediation retreat from a lovely American Couple that i met in Yogyakarta. They were such a happy, warm, and friendly couple that gave out so much positive vibe. They shared about the 10 days mediation course that they attended and i was rather shocked about it, "10 days of no talking, just eat, sleep, and mediate? How can one take it?" I said, and they laughed. That's was how I felt back then. I knew nothing about mediation except that it can help one to concentrate better and probably sleep better.
Then about a year ago, i heard from my dad that my Mongolia Internship Boss, who is someone i respect a lot, takes the time out from his busy schedule to go for this 10 days Mediation Retreat once every year. It must be something about this mediation retreat that brings out positiveness of the people who attends and practice it. Then, i told myself that i should definitely give it a shot when time prohibts me to.
While i was preparing for my Japan trip, searching for places to Wwoof at, i had a hard time securing a place at the very beginning of my trip. I had about 2 weeks of free time and I didn't know what to do. Then, the 10 days mediation retreat came into my mind and i started researching about it. There are 2 Vipassana Mediation Centre in Japan, one at Kyoto and another at Chiba. I registered for the one at Kyoto, but it was full and i was placed on the waiting list. I didn't get it in the end, so i decided to go for the one at Chiba instead.
For every overseas trip, i always try to challenge myself on something new. I didn't know what to expect from wwoofing then, so i thought, if i want to ensure that i'll gain something out of this Japan trip, let the mediation retreat be it. Since it was something that i always wanted to do but just didnt have the courage to do so.
I have been looking forward to the mediation retreat ever since my application got accepted, but at the same time, i fear so much that i wouldnt be able to go through it. Never in my life have I tried not speaking or having eye contact with anyone for 10days, have absolutly no contact with the outside world, and sit for hours without moving (which is something i am extremely bad at because of my back condition. I'm always fidgeting!). The night before my mediation retreat, when i was at Yokohama, i even had fever (my goodness), i was so worried that i couldnt attend the course. I popped some panados and down about 5 bottles of water, hoping that i will get well the next day, which i did, thankfully.
When i arrived at the mediation centre, i had the chance to interact with a couple of participants, who was also having the same feeling as me. It was really comforting to know that i wasn't the only one and that we are in this together.
The course officially started the next day and the whole place was in silence...
I dont think i should share in details exactly what I've went through during that 10 days as it's better for you to not know too much. So in summary, the first few days was extremely tough, i kept dozing off. My mind couldnt stop drifting off, and my leg hurts so badly. But i keep pushing myself, constantly reminding myselfs about the teacher's teaching "keep a balance mind", and perserve through the pain. Finally, I felt it... At that moment i understood everything that the teacher said and i felt extremely clear about all the confusions that i had with my life and how i should deal with them. It felt so good and i was so happy. But you know, life is all about changes, when there is up, there's down. The last few days was very tough for me too because i had a hard time focusing. I kept thinking about all the people i wanted to share my experience with and how i think it would help them. haha.
Well, all i can say is that the 10 days mediation retreat was a life-changing experience for me. I'm still trying to mediate at least 1 hour everyday, even though it's a lot harder to focus being back in the reality, but i'm pushing myself everyday and i'm not giving up on it. I've also been monitoring my behavior, observing how different i am now as compared to before. There are 2 main things that i hope to overcome, one is my cravings for snacks and two is my fear for insects. haha. Ever since the retreat, i haven't been snacking as much as before, which i am really very thankful about (if you know how much snacks i eat everyday, especially in Japan when you can find delicious cookies everywhere, you'll be shocked).
I sincerely encourage everyone to give this 10 days mediation retreat a shot. It's international and non-religious based. It's simply a very logical and effective technique to help people lead a happier life.