When I received an invitation to attend Quepasana — a ten day silent meditation course practicing the meditation style of vipassana — I knew by the tears that began streaming down my cheeks and the fire in my belly that I had to be there.
The course is completely volunteer led, financially supported by donations and the founder Jorge Yant. This means that attending is completely free. All you have to do is commit to show up and follow the rules, which include handing in all electronics as well as practicing noble silence for ten days.
Noble silence is the practice of pretending as if you are completely alone even if you are surrounded by 50 other people. All speech among guests is forbidden. Eye contact is discouraged. If you have a need then you can write a note to one of the course leaders and they in turn may allow you to speak with them.
Despite working my way through anxiety the days leading up to my arrival, when I made it to the Quepasana property I was greeted with so much warmth that I immediately felt safe. The first day was spent settling in and getting to know the people I would be sharing the next 10 days with. After lunch we had our first meditation and I found my nerves relax as I had begun tapping into the peaceful place inside of me.
My days began at 4:30am, awoke from a dream state by the ritualistic bell ringing throughout the property. I slept in a large canvas tent on a cozy air mattress, sitting atop the hill in a lightly wooded area. While the stars were at their brightest I made my way to the Shala for some awakening yoga and then our first hour of seated meditation. A couple times I saw the moon set over the ocean like a salmon colored orb sinking beneath the horizon. One morning I paused before entering the Shala to look up at the heavens and saw a shooting star, giving me a little boost of strength for that day.
After morning meditation I typically scrambled to get dressed for the beach and then quickly ate breakfast so I made it to the truck in time to climb in the back with a dozen other silent people. I carried the meditative state in my heart as I became one with the morning wind on my face. No matter how dry my towel felt in the midday sun of yesterday it still felt moist and cold around my shoulders from spending a night in the tent with me on tropical Maui, a long way from my desert home.
A trip to Little Beach where we run naked into the waves is not typical of a traditional vipassana course, yet I certainly was grateful for the intimate connection to the clear blue waters and smooth sand. The sun began to peek over the trees and I floated, one with the elements. There were a couple days when I skipped the beach trip and went back to bed instead, those days were deeply divine as well. Rest is powerful work.
In the afternoons we had yin yoga. Yin yoga was a precious deviation from sitting upright. With peaceful and uplifting music holding us in our poses I let go on cellular level. When the Shala grew so hot that almost thought I couldn’t bear it it was then that I would hear the continuous spray of the yin angels coming closer to me. I felt so thankful to receive a refreshing spray of water and cooling essential oils on my skin. Other times the servers would assist me in a pose or offer massage and energy work. The love I felt from their hands would make me melt into tears; my eye pillow often had two round wet spots when I took it off to switch poses.
Early afternoon was the time of day we most often were gifted with rain. The slow pitter patters would tap on the tent roof and soon a downpour would come to wash away what had surfaced in my heart. the coolness that came from the rain was welcome, and I would slip into a place of completely letting go.
Being so in my own world despite being around many people revealed to me how much of my story is projection. Thoughts can sway from love to judgment in an instant, wether towards myself or others, and in a moment I can switch right back. Meditation is the practice of coming back to center. I will sway, that is the beauty of life, and still I return to center again and again.
Many different emotions came up during the ten days, and I found that I had not much else to do than sit with and feel everything that came up. Traumas from years ago resurfaced like crashing waves onto my shore. Other times tears bubbled over me during a sit and I let my body rock with the storm, finding comfort in the sweet rhythm.
Now that I have been home for a couple weeks I can see which changes have stuck. Particularly with my emotions it seems that I feel them in a deeper place, which allows them to be safely looked at and felt. I feel a sensitivity from all parts of myself have increased, creating a gentle approach to life. Walls that I had become so used to melted in the safe arms of Quepasana and now I can move freely.
I have known for a while the power of meditation, and have benefitted from it greatly. This experience was a high dose of meditation medicine. It is really special to have a place to go where I can be taken care of while I do the magical work of being present with myself.
I am lit up with passion for this work and so I am launching a 30 day meditation course to help us create and support a regular meditation practice. Learn more here.✨