Half way through his On Purpose year Associate Michiel De Smet (October 2014) takes some quiet time to reflect. Here he shares some of his thoughts.
“Why would you do that?!” was the typical answer when I told friends I was leaving for a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. At first sight, a valid question, as the course requires you to start meditating at 4.30am, does not allow eating anything after lunch (apart from some fruit at 5pm) and forbids any form of communication with outsiders or fellow participants, whether by speech, gestures, written notes, smoke signals, etc. For me, however, it perfectly fitted in with my OnPurpose year during which I’m considering a career transition, reflecting on my values and gaining new experiences. And indeed, the 10 days were far from enjoyable, but I’ve rarely had such an intense experience.
The course aims to teach the Vipassana meditation technique, which consists of observing the subtle sensations that constantly emerge and disappear in and on your body. The idea is to become aware of the impermanent nature of those sensations with a calm and balanced mind. So, whether the sensations feel pleasant or not, they won’t last forever and one shouldn’t react blindly by developing any craving or aversion as this could create future unhappiness.