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Ten Days of Silence for Peace of Mind
Ron Alexander

After I returned from a ten day silent Vipassana Retreat, I have been asked "Why would you even want to be in silence for ten days?" That was a good question. I would have thought it crazy, if I had not seen the "Dhamma Brothers" documentary, about the amazing transformation of lifer prisoners (some convicted murderers), after they spent ten days of silent Vipassana Meditation.

Vipassana means to see things as they really are, and was started by Gautama Buddha 2600 years ago. "...Buddha taught: an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any 'ism'. He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is, by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when the wisdom arises-the wisdom of observing reality as it is-this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action-action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and to others." S.N. Goenka "The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation".

Science also supports the premise behind the Buddha’s meditation, as can be read about in Tolle’s books –specifically identifying with space instead of form.

Daily eleven hours of meditating was not easy, many times I felt like just bolting. However, I am glad I didn’t. I am meditating more and more effectively experiencing much more peace and joy.

Goenka advises practice – “persistence, and you will succeed>" Also we are instructed to end each sitting with a ‘Metta’ (Loving Kindness) prayer:
May all beings be happy, be peaceful and be free!”

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Replies to This Discussion

Joan Gregori said:
Ron, silence for ten days--eleven hours a day? Sounds a bit long to me as I'm still trying to meditate for 3 min.! :)

I know--persistence, right?

Hi Joan, you still identifying as a "crone to the bone"? I hope so, I love you guys! I think my determination to last for ten days in silence meditating 11 hours per day, was part of my Divine Inheritance from my Mom. I really started seeking for answers when she shockingly pretty much left me out of her will. I had spent alot of time with her during her last seven weeks in ICU, where she could not speak, and felt blessed to be with her when she passed Dec. 24. I know I healed my relationship with her. During that time of grace, I was also blessed to have not known, that she had changed her will in 2006, until this Feb. when the will was read. At first, I was in a state of shock and turmoil at the perceived rejection (I was the only remaining son of 5), that I even thought about committing suicide. Then I started writing about it (you may have seen some of my poems?), and going to every healing workshop I could find, plus I have a great Unity minister/counselor/teacher. I found a sound healing workshop very helpful, and there a respected psychic/minister said she saw Archangel Michael knighting me during the healing. So I went into some indepth study of angels, and still am. Interestingly, during Mom's stint in ICU, I asked her to please send my guiding angels, if she could not come back herself. So I am considering Archangel Michael part of my divine inheritance.
However, this ten days of silence with Vipassana meditation has been my greatest spiritual advance, and I am pretty sure I will stick with it from now on!
much metta, bubba aspiring to be a Buddha, ron

By the way, after growing up with a Marine father, I rebelled against "discipline" until someone pointed out the root word: "disciple".
Reply by Jeanne
Visappana Group site

speaking of 'bolting'...

I was thinking about how often people think that 'bolting' sankara as an expression of freedom... and yet, we can see that it is actually a reaction to trying to maintain the status quo,,, it is resisting change and growth.

taking on the yoke of discipline seems to be the way toward freedom... toward liberation. whereas bolting, escaping, running away, avoiding... are all part of maintaining the chains of enslavement to ignorance.

The other day someone said they couldn't see the benefit of sitting still and not moving a muscle... the old me might have tried to explain or persuade... but with vipassana... I've come to learn that if the seed of interest is there, if the karma of that person is ready, they will respond with interest. So I simply agreed that the daily zen is life itself.

My initial reaction upon hearing about the 10 days of silence necessary to fulfill a vipassana course was "whoa! ...you people are really serious". My meditation experience prior to vipassana consisted of driving long distances through city traffic to go and sit in someone's living room, meditate, break bread and share community. It gave the worthwhile lift I sought, but only touched the surface of my wounded soul.

Vipassana cut through to the roots of the wounds... and they were able to dissolve and float away... good-bye little fears and phobias, your work is done.
Meditation is a creation of your own mind. Many beginners ( I was one) had the assumption of "trying" to clear thier mind and create it void of thought. This is simply not possible. If you are first aware of what is going on in your own mind, you may then create your own stream of consciousness. To learn to work in harmony with your thoughts, that is crucial to learning the practice. Think things that radiate positively with your oown soul, and observe how it relaxes your mind. Also, The Breath is key to relaxation. It is fun and rewarding to practice taking in deep breaths with eyes closed... slower and slower until all activity has stopped within. The technique I use is to continually slow my breath, until it stops completely, in which case time and space and thought fade away... This brings you into divine communion with higher energies present within creation.

Namaste
Joan Gregori said:
Ron, silence for ten days--eleven hours a day? Sounds a bit long to me as I'm still trying to meditate for 3 min.! :)

I know--persistence, right?
Reply by Travis Clay Dupont Jr. "Meditation is a creation of your own mind. Many beginners ( I was one) had the assumption of "trying" to clear thier mind and create it void of thought. This is simply not possible...."
I completely agree with Travis on this and was responding to Eckhart Tolle's assertion that one "needs to seperate thought from awareness."


One part of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path is “Right Thought”.

“It is not necessary for all thoughts to cease in meditation before one begins Vipassana. Thoughts may still persist, but if awareness is sustained from moment to moment, that is sufficient to start the work.

Thoughts may remain, but the nature of the thought pattern changes. Aversion and craving have been calmed down by awareness of breathing. The mind has become tranquil at least at the conscious level, and has begun to think about Dhamma, about the way to emerge from suffering. The difficulties that arose on initiating awareness of respiration have now passed or at least have been overcome to some extent. One is prepared for the next step, right understanding.”


p. 88 of Hart’s The Art of Living -Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka.
Let me first say that I am very happy that I joined Twitter. I wan't aware until now of the diverse crowd of intellectuals that use this site to communicate ideas on meditation and spirituality. It is a very good thing for me to know that there are others who are beginning to awaken. I believe as many others do, that there is a shift in human consciousness taking place on planet earth at this time. For that I believe we can all be grateful. I will look for other topics and groups soon in my search on this site. Thank you all.

Namaste

Ron Alexander said:
Reply by Travis Clay Dupont Jr. "Meditation is a creation of your own mind. Many beginners ( I was one) had the assumption of "trying" to clear thier mind and create it void of thought. This is simply not possible...."
I completely agree with Travis on this and was responding to Eckhart Tolle's assertion that one "needs to seperate thought from awareness."


One part of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path is “Right Thought”.

“It is not necessary for all thoughts to cease in meditation before one begins Vipassana. Thoughts may still persist, but if awareness is sustained from moment to moment, that is sufficient to start the work.

Thoughts may remain, but the nature of the thought pattern changes. Aversion and craving have been calmed down by awareness of breathing. The mind has become tranquil at least at the conscious level, and has begun to think about Dhamma, about the way to emerge from suffering. The difficulties that arose on initiating awareness of respiration have now passed or at least have been overcome to some extent. One is prepared for the next step, right understanding.”


p. 88 of Hart’s The Art of Living -Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka.
There is one thing that I discovered lately, although it may seam a bit unusual. But it still works very well to get the feeling of unconditional love to yourself more easily while starting the meditation. It is just that we're so used to set so many goals and have so many expectations to ourselves due to our everyday active lives. That's why it becomes hard to enter immediately to the deeper state of consciousness and to fully accept ourselves the way we are.
Today I found that it can be so easy to take ourselves the same way as when meeting the newborn baby. To observe the inner nature just the same way. Without any expectations for what it should become, but instead the feeling of gratitude and acceptance to the way it is and just by letting the inner smile shine. This I've found also useful when staying in meditation for a longer time, as it makes it so much easier to stay focused and not to be disturbed by what comes from outside. That is the inner silence.
With love, Silja

Jenny Phillips - directed The Dhamma Brothers documentary and wrote Letters From the Dhamma Brothers

http://www.oprah.com/article/spirit/inspiration/pkgoprahssoulseries...
Watch the insightful interviews by Oprah

Cultural anthropologist, writer and psychotherapist Jenny Phillips has been working in the field of mental health for more than 15 years. Much of her work has been with male prisoners, teaching inmates courses on emotional literacy and vipassana meditation, an ancient meditation technique based on the teachings of Buddha. Her work has helped inmates—many serving multiple life sentences—transform their lives, face their pasts and become more peaceful, purposeful people.

In 2008, Jenny released the self-produced documentary The Dhamma Brothers, which followed 36 prisoners at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama through a 10-day silent vipassana meditation course. Her book Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars is a collection of letters and interviews from inmates who took part in the meditation course. The book depicts prison life and the journey many of the prisoners took to better understanding the teachings of Buddha and achieving inner peace.

Jenny has doctorate in anthropology from Boston University and is currently researching a book—along with her husband, journalist Frank Phillips—on author Ernest Hemingway's 22 years in Cuba. Jenny's grandfather, Maxwell Perkins, was a legendary book editor and close friend of Hemingway's.


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This is what happened when I tried to embed part 1 below. go to this link - you will really get alot out of these interviews by Oprah:

http://www.oprah.com/article/spirit/inspiration/pkgoprahssoulseries...
Part 1 Watch Now Listen Now

Part 2 Watch Now Listen Now


Jenny Phillips - directed The Dhamma Brothers documentary and wrote Letters From the Dhamma Brothers

http://www.oprah.com/article/spirit/inspiration/pkgoprahssoulseries...
Watch the insightful interviews by Oprah

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