How about ten days without talking, writing, reading, working out, having a bath, let alone chilling out in front of Netflix? Instead, you get a daily wake-up gong at 4am, followed by ten hours of seated meditation. This was my introduction to Vipassana meditation and is something that has made a very positive impact on my life.

Why I chose Vipassana meditation

Vipassana is one of India‘s most ancient meditation techniques in which students focus on the deep interconnection between their mind and body, through disciplined attention to their physical sensations. And I decided to give it a go.

When I announced my plan to go to a Vipassana meditation center to my family, they thought I was crazy. My uncle called me a borderline hermit, my mom checked to see that it wasn’t a sect I was joining, and my dear colleague said I would be the first person to be thrown out of such a ‘retreat’ because I would most definitely break the no-talking code.

White flipflops and meditation pillow on wooden floor, personal, items, home
Home comforts were incredibly limited.

Despite some heavy doubts from outside, I made it. The strict silence and absence of my phone was the easiest and quite enjoyable part. The struggle becomes real when you are exposed to your 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day – without any opportunity to run off, both literally and in the figurative sense. What I found was that much of that inner monolog is incredibly positive and affirming.

Experiencing a meditation center firsthand

During the course of my experience, I learned to observe my breathing, concentrate my mind and embraced ‘Adhiṭṭhāna’ (strong determination). We weren’t allowed to move at all, holding the same position for 60 minutes – eyes closed, of course. I was feeling a lot of rage inside (a lot!) but over time, those hours of sitting still became easier. We were training ourselves to reach a state of complete calmness and composure.

Girls standing next to each other in front of nature, meditation, retreat, Vipassana
Together in mindfulness (this image was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic).

If I had to describe my learnings in one word – it would be equanimity. It defines the mental calmness, balance and evenness of temper, especially in difficult situations. It refers to a mind at peace even in the face of stressful and unpleasant experiences derived from inner stability. Honestly, for me this sounds like the ultimate goal.

From my own experience I know it seems easier to intoxicate or numb ourselves than dealing with our own – sometimes mad – daily thoughts. I would say I started to get an understanding of the importance of mastering our minds as our own and everyone’s well-being greatly depends on it.

Taking my learnings back to work

After ten days, it was time to get back to normality and I was keen to see how I’d see things following my experiences. At adidas, we believe in living specific behaviors based around three Cs: confidence, creativity and collaboration. I believe this retreat helped me to apply what I learned to put an even more positive spin on this belief.

1. Working with others

I want to start with my learnings around collaboration: Mental stability has helped to build compassionate, productive and successful relationships with colleagues. With an even temper, you can recognize, avoid and/or minimize emotional reactions. It also helps to avoid making irrational decisions and approach things in a more balanced way.

There will always be unpleasant and stressful times and they certainly won’t fully disappear, but if you’re at peace you will change the way you look at them. You know they will pass. If everyone detached and just observed themselves in an objective way, we would also experience fewer turbulent meetings, political fuss and egotistical email chains. We’d work better together.

2. Stimulating creativity

Blonde girl sitting in meditation pose with eyes closed on the floor, meditation, focus, mindfulness, Vipassana
Blocking out distractions helps to stimulate creativity.

When applying the Vipassana meditation experience to creativity, I would say it helps to remove layers of distractions. You have a blank canvas, with no pressure to invite ideas and new thinking in. I spoke to a fellow student who came up with several business ideas during the ten days, another one wrote poems in her head, just to give you two examples.

Without the intense amount of daily distractions (music, film, discussions, messages, etc.) you automatically become creative in how you spend what little free time you have, so I watched the clouds move and found excitement in the beauty of nature.

3. Knowing yourself is the key to confidence

Finally, confidence. Learn and grow. With patient and persistent self-observation, you start understanding yourself and especially the root of your actions better. We radiate a lot of energy even without the use of words, looks, or gestures.

You won’t fear the outcome of the things that you do, and you’ll develop an understanding that you cannot change the outside, only the inside, which is all part of knowing what you can control. The truth is, everything is impermanent and constantly changing. This realization allows us to accept the truth. Accepting the truth manifests equanimity – mental calmness, balance and evenness of temper, especially in difficult situations.

I am very grateful for this experience and my colleague and friend Kathi Knoerle who inspired and greatly encouraged me to invest those ten days of my annual leave into such a wonderful self-exploratory journey. As I can recommend Vipassana to everyone and I am convinced it would benefit our society, I am happy to answer any kind of questions in the comments below. If you want to find out more, you can also check out Dhamma Dvāra Vipassana Meditation Centre.


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by Sangam wardhe 28.12.2020
Very nice i am interested

by B. M. Khanna 22.03.2021

It is my firm conviction, practice of 'Vipassana Meditation' in the current nCOVID19 situation shall be highly beneficial to one and all, and especially help those recovered from COVID-19 infection in regaining sound health! We had held a webinar on zoom on the subject on Sunday, the 27th December, 2020. This has been uploaded on YouTube, here is the link for the benefit of your readers:

Similar talk titled ' Vipasssana Meditation For Vibrant Health and Well-being' was given in August, 2019 at India International Centre, New Delhi, here is the YouTube link for the same:

To recapitulate, highlights of Lord Buddha's Teachings are 'impermanence' and 'emptiness' of all phenomena. 'Emptiness' or 'Shyunata' in Buddhist parlance is a truly sublime state, a state from which all cyclic existence arises and merges. There is no independent 'self'; our strong belief in an illusory 'intrinsic self' is at the root of our suffering. To go beyond our suffering, Lord Buddha's Teachings emphasize the importance of 'virtuous conduct' primarily emphasizing on observance of ‘panch sheel‘, viz. ‘no stealing’, ‘no telling lies’, ‘no sexual misconduct’, ‘no intoxicants’ implying strict abstinence from drugs, partaking of which leads to ‘depression’ and ‘suicides’ and ‘no hurting or killing’; practicing 'Samatha Bhavna' by way of ‘Aanapana Sati’ coupled with 'Vipassana Meditation'; and developing 'Pragya' in Sanskrit or 'Pañña' in Pali, a non-judgmental sustained equanimous attention to the musings of the mind, yes bare attention to 'what is', no i-interference whatsoever!

Very briefly, one starts with sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position, eyes gently closed and just bare attention to normal rhythm of breathing at the small spot at the upper lip in between the two nostrils. Once the mind drifts, so be it, just sustained equanimous attention to the thoughts as they arise and pass away. Yes, non-judgemental attention to 'what is', no i-interference whatsoever i.e. no forcibly bringing the mind back to the flow of breath! Once the i-interference stops, mind shall become calm and tranquil sooner or later and shall couple with the normal rhythm of breathing effortlessly, no push pull, no compelled concentration, only choiceless observation of the musings of the mind! This practice called 'samatha bhavna', shall bring the mind to a state of 'calm abiding' sooner or later! In this state of 'calm abiding', one practices 'Vipassana Meditation' wherein one's mind encompasses the entire body, paying just bare equanimous attention to the body sensations, sensations as they arise and pass away in different parts of the body! Yes, sustained equanimous attention to the body sensations, pleasant or unpleasant or neutral, in different parts of the body shall uproot deep seated negative states in one's consciousness, states like one's ill will, one's anger, one's covetousness, one's incessant cravings, one’s self cherishing and self grasping nature, one's fears, fear of death and loneliness due to forced seclusion in Covid-19 times, one's strong urge to partake drugs, one's depression and suicidal tendency not being able to face trials and tribulations in one's life, thereby bestowing physical and mental well-being! With profound Mettā! B. M. KHANNA



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