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 inner space (formlessness) 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 to end each sitting with a ‘Metta’ (Loving Kindness) prayer:
May all beings be happy, be peaceful and be free!”