Dad and I looked at each other with trepidation, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. This was our last chance to turn the car around and drive seven hours back home to Boston.
“What do you think?” he asked hesitantly as we pulled into a gravel parking lot shaded by huge pine trees. Up ahead a one-story wooden building that used to be a boys boarding school awaited us.
“I think maybe we should go home,” I ventured.
“Well, we’re here now,” he said.
A clean-shaven, thin man with khaki pants and a tucked in button down shirt tapped on our window.
“Welcome. Just park over there and we’ll get you signed in.” Too late now, we were committed.
What had seemed like a good idea at the time now seemed like some hippie folly. My dad and I had signed ourselves up for a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Everything I knew about Vipassana came from one of Dad’s colleagues, Anna, who had attended a number of years earlier, and had raved about her experience. I had also looked at the web site, which describes Vipassana, “seeing things as they really are, and is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques.” Since the time of Buddha, Vipassana has been handed down by an unbroken chain of teachers. Mr. S.N. Goenka was born and raised in Burma where he learned Vipassana and began teaching around the world.
Some of the people just arriving looked quite comfortable, lugging their suitcases and blankets up to the front desk without hesitation. There were people of all ages and ethnicities. My dad and I hung back upon entering the building until a friendly older woman with a clipboard approached us to collect our phones, books, pens, notebooks and any other form of entertainment that would be restricted for the entirety of the program.
Now it was time to say goodbye to Dad for 10 days. Men and women are separated for the program so this would be the last time I would see him for a while. I gave him a hug, not wanting to let go. He was my last sense of normalcy and I didn’t want it to end.
A young girl at the front desk, who looked to be about 18, gave me a list of rules to read. “I’m really nervous,” I couldn’t help saying.
“You’ll be fine,” she responded casually. “I’ve done six of these.”
She looked like she hugged trees during her spare time. Of course she had done six.
“You’ll need to change out of what you’re wearing. It’s too revealing and during your stay here you will need to cover up completely.”Apparently my grungy, old grey tank top and black workout pants from the GAP were too provocative for meditating. So I went and changed into baggy sweatpants and sweatshirt, my go-to outfit for the next ten days. What I didn’t realize at the time is that it’s actually 12 days, not 10 as I had anticipated. Check-in day, today, was considered Day 0 and checkout day was on Day 11.
When Anna first told me about her experience doing a 10-day silent meditation a year before, my first thought was “I could never do that!” But somehow I kept thinking about it, wondering if maybe I could, or should.
Fast forward to a year later. The cycle of my life had become a roller coaster with extreme highs and extreme lows. I was just finishing up an intense 3-month video assignment in Europe. Because of my profession, I tour and travel for extended periods. Then I would arrive back home to a lot of adrenaline withdrawal and depression. My moods on downtime had increasingly become worse and a friend thought meditation might help.
I had a couple of months of free time before my next gig, so I thought this might be a perfect opportunity to try a 10-day silent meditation. The only problem was that I had never meditated. In fact I have difficulty getting through a one-hour yoga class without getting antsy and wanting to leave. So the idea of sitting for 10-12 hours a day and meditating seemed close to impossible.
The center in Quebec was the only one within driving distance with space available during that time. At the last minute my dad had decided to join me as well. He thought it would be a bonding experience for us and perhaps improve our relationship.
“We can go on walks during lunch,” he said.
“Dad, you realize we’re going to a silent retreat where there’s no talking, right?” I asked.
“Yes, but we don’t have to talk on our walks.”
“You also realize that they separate the men and women so there won’t be any walks together?”
He decided to go anyway.
It was July so the trees were in full bloom and the mosquitoes were rampant. Thankfully I remembered to bring mosquito repellent because I had just signed a sheet vowing to uphold the five precepts:
1) To abstain from killing any being
2) To abstain from stealing
3) To abstain from all sexual activity whatsoever
4) To abstain from wrong speech
5) To abstain from all intoxicants
However, just after signing the form and on my way to my new room, I killed a bug by accident when it flew into my eye. I felt an immediate pang of guilt. As I said “Shit!” I had just broken another rule.
I headed downstairs to my assigned room. The off-white paint on the walls was chipped and the beds were split apart bunk beds. The room would have fit two people comfortably but somehow they managed to squeeze five beds into this particular one. I was disappointed that none of my roommates were there, as I had been hoping to meet them before silence started after dinner.
Dinner was served at 5. There were white bed sheets separating the dining hall into a men’s section and a women’s section. I could almost make out body shapes behind the translucent curtains and I desperately tried to find dad’s shadow. I heard him cough several times and felt a warm comfort in the familiar sound.
Most of the women I sat with at dinner spoke French. One young woman I was next to asked if I had ever done this before. “Never.” I said. “Neither have I. I am so nervous.” At least I wasn’t alone.
Dinner was vegetarian, delicious, and abundant. From now on, dinner would consist of tea and fruit. Then we were sent off to the meditation hall where we would be assigned our 2×2 foot blue square cushions that served as our assigned seats for the entirety of the program. Noble Silence had begun. And it was time for our first meditation.
Groups of women each holding blue, fat rectangular pillows of various sizes crowded around the door to the meditation hall waiting for their name to be called. I stood towards the back with my green blanket and two medium-sized pillows that I retrieved from the pillow closet. Since I had never meditated, I followed the woman’s lead in front of me, grabbing the same pillows as she did.
I walked towards the door slowly, apprehensive to begin this venture and followed the assistant to a cushion near the back of the room. Trying to get adjusted on my pillows, I quickly realized that comfort was not something I would have in abundance during these 10 days. I sat on the mound of blue pillows I created and awaited instruction. Looking around the room, everyone had constructed unique piles. One woman looked like she was riding a blue horse of piled cushions with her legs dangling on either side.
The assistant teacher sat in front facing us on a raised platform two feet off the ground. A large white shawl draped over her shoulders past her knees and almost touched the floor. It looked as if she was floating. Maybe she had already reached enlightenment.
Signs reading, “No talking in the meditation hall,” hung on the doors though this only pertained to the students. The teacher and assistant teacher whispered back and forth to each other. From the back of the room I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but they kept looking toward an empty cushion. Someone wasn’t there and it seemed upsetting to them.
After everyone was seated, the assistant to the assistant teacher left the room, returning several minutes later along with the missing person. I smiled to myself subtly. It was fun to see someone already “in trouble” and not doing what they were supposed to.
Gradually, people stopped moving until a peaceful hush took over the room. My heart calmed a bit sinking into the silence. Once the room had stilled, the assistant teacher played the DVD on a small screen up at the front for all to see. Our virtual teacher, S.N. Goenka appeared onto the screen in a video that had been pre-recorded over 20 years ago. He had a sweet smile and Buddha-like presence. He seemed to have a peace that I imagine only enlightened people would have.
He began his speech, “May all beings be happy.” This was the ultimate goal of Vipassana meditation – to develop peace within oneself and through that peace find happiness.
And with that, meditation had begun.
“Feel the breath going in and out. In and out,” he said in his thick Indian accent. “Concentrate on the sensation of the breath on the skin between your upper lip and below your nose,” he instructed. We continued this for the next hour until the gong rang signaling it was time for bed.
At 4am the gong rang. Day 1 had begun.
With bags under my eyes, I grudgingly put on my sweats, and baggy t-shirt and wrapped my comfy green blanket around me. My flip-flops were waiting for me at the exit door of the dorms. I slipped them on and joined the crowds of other women walking like slow motion zombies across the field in pitch black toward the meditation hall.
The meditation hall was actually a converted gym with two floors. The women occupied the bottom floor while above us, in a much smaller room, sat the men. Men and women entered on separate sides, so while we could hear their presence we never actually saw the men.
I was happy to get settled onto my meditation pillow and close my eyes. Perhaps I could sneak in a little more sleep while I was sitting up pretending to meditate. I had almost fallen back asleep when I was jolted awake by our Goenka chanting.
I couldn’t understand what he was chanting, although many of the women chanted along with him. Goenka then instructed us “Starrrrrrrrrtttttt agaaaaaain,” he said slowly in a low rumbling voice that trailed off into a frog-like croaking. “Starrrrrrrrrtttttt agaaaaaain.” So I started again. As they had taught us the night before on Day 0, I began breathing in and out, slowly, trying to feel the sensation of my breath against my upper lip.
In and out. In and out. In and out. It only took three breaths for my thoughts to start in again. Did I remember to change my outgoing voicemail? Yeah…I think so. No I definitely did. I remember doing it on the way to Quebec…Oh wait, I’m supposed to concentrate on breathing.
I began again. In and out. In and out. In and out. My back is so itchy. I wonder if I’m allergic to something. Damnit, I forgot to bring my Claritin. Concentrate. Back to breathing.
So this is meditation? For ten hours a day?! I closed my eyes again trying to do as instructed.
In and out, in and out. And so the process continued. I could not reach more than five consecutive breaths without my mind racing, thinking about all my emails that were piling up, making a mental to-do list for when I got home, wondering how my dad was doing, thinking about how I could leave gracefully, and so on.
After a very long two hours, the gong rang. There would be a 15-minute break and then we would “Starrrrrrrrrtttttt agaaaaaain.”
Day 2 was more of the same. It crossed my mind that in prison you can at least read, write, probably check your email once in awhile, get into fights and exercise. This seemed worse.
In the meditation sittings, I didn’t seem to be progressing at all. I still couldn’t quiet my mind. Daydreams came and went, my to do list kept growing, and now I was starting to feel angry as well as anxious.
When I went into the meditation hall for the afternoon sit, I noticed at least three cushions had disappeared since the morning meditation and I felt a warm triumph spread through my body, secretly glad that I’d made it further than these other attendees had. Cushions would continue to disappear gradually over the course of the program. I could only speculate on the fate of their former occupants. A pang of guilt came over me momentarily when I reminded myself that meditation was not a competition. They had figured out a way to escape, at least.
During one daydream in the evening session, I started thinking of ways to get kicked out of meditation. Perhaps if I wore skimpy clothing or went past the course boundary, or maybe read a book in the hallway they would ask me to leave. As I was thinking of things, my cushion- neighbor let out a loud fart that reverberated throughout the entire room. I tried with all my might not to laugh because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. Someone a few rows in front of me starting giggling, then another. I couldn’t hold it in. I laughed more than I had laughed in weeks. Tears streamed down my face and snorts came out my nose.
“If you can’t control yourself, please leave the meditation hall,” announced the assistant teacher. I tried to pull myself together by biting my cheeks, but it only made it worse. The assistant to the assistant teacher tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for me to follow her out of the meditation hall. I felt a little ashamed, but was at the same time was happy to have a break. She said I could re-enter when I was able.
Later that night during the discourse, S.N. Goenka, with his big chubby cheeks, said, “You have to deal with your wild mind, patiently. You want to get it trained in one or two days? Oh NOOooo! And you become irritated because it’s not trained? You become agitated. Patience.”
My concentration had increased slightly over the course of the day and my daydreams had diminished somewhat, so I decided to give it one more day.
By now I had been concentrating on my breathing for 36 hours during these “sits,” as they are called. For the first several days, we were instructed to focus only on the area under our noses. But midway through the first afternoon session, the left side of my face began to melt. At least that’s how it felt..
As instructed, I observed these sensations rather than trying to change them. I reached up to ensure my face was still intact and not actually drooping. It was ok. I sat with that sensation for minutes. Then the other side began to droop as well. I had no idea what was happening, but I just kept breathing, in out, in out. As long as it was just my imagination, I would be ok.
The days still seemed to go on forever, but I found small ways to entertain myself throughout the day. I now had a routine down which helped.
4am – Wake up at the sound of the gong
4:30-6:30 – Meditate and look around for people who have disappeared
6:30-7 – Breakfast of oatmeal and prune stew with flaxseed, a cup of tea with hemp milk
7-7:30 – Walk outside to see if my dad’s car is still in the lot
7:30-8 – Sleep
8-9 – Meditate
9-9:15 – Break
9:15-11 – Meditate
11-11:30 – Lunch
11:30-1:30 –Sleep/Shower/Walk around the women’s path
1:30-3:00 – Group meditation in hall
3-5 – Meditate in my room
5-5:30 – Dinner of peppermint tea with banana and apple
5:30- 6 – Walk around outside
6-7 – Meditate in Hall
7-8:30 – Discourse
9-9:15 – Get ready for bed
9 – BEDTIME!
During lunchtime I always looked forward to my warm showers. But as I stood under the shower spout on this particular afternoon with a smile on my face, feeling the water against my skin, I realized I wasn’t supposed to be enjoying sensation, but rather observing it as Goenka had told us.
A feeling of anguish overcame me. What’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy anything? I made an appointment to see the teacher. During appointments we had an opportunity to speak with the teacher for up to five minutes. I assume most people probably went just for the opportunity to talk.
“Am I supposed to deaden all my emotions and never be happy or sad ever again?” I asked her during my lunch appointment.
She smiled softly. “Of course it’s ok to be happy about the wonderful shower you are taking. But you also have to realize that everything changes. It is the law of nature. Enjoy your shower as it is, but realize that it won’t be there forever and learn to be ok with that.”
It was now Day 4 out of 10 and I had developed the habit of counting to keep my brain engaged. I felt like Dustin Hoffman from Rain Man, counting everything I could.
139 – the number of steps from my room to the meditation hall
62 – the number of steps from my room to the bathroom
30 – the number of slices I cut my bananas into
23 – the steps from my room to the door outside
20 – the amount of sips to drink my tea
15 – the number of chickpeas I put on my plate during lunch
12 – the hours I had to meditate every day
8 – the number of raisins I put in my oatmeal every morning
6 – the times I brushed my teeth each day
5 – the number of shirts I brought
4 – the number of terrible roommates I had
3 – the number of glasses of tea I had drank day
2 – the number of bugs I killed by accident
1 – the number of toads I saw
It turns out I wasn’t the only one counting. I found out later that my dad counted everything as well. In fact, that’s how he made it through his meditations. He figured out that every 1000 breaths were 20 minutes. Each finger was 100 so he would count 500 on each hand, then switch.
On Day 4, a new wrinkle was introduced to our “sits”. We were to begin practicing Strong Determination which meant absolutely no moving during each two hour session.
As the two hours ticked slowly by, the tingly, prickly irritation in my legs intensified and bursts of pain shot up my back. Every time I wanted to move, I reminded myself that it was only two hours of my entire life that I had to sit in this position – at least during this particular meditation period. And instead of judging the unpleasant sensation of my legs falling asleep or the shooting pains in my back, I began trying to just observe as we had been taught.
After what seemed like an eternity, the gong rang. Pure joy and relief coursed through my body. I had made it through two solid hours of meditating without stirring! It was a huge accomplishment.
I waited with a smile on my face for the teacher to congratulate all of us on a job well done. Instead, she floated silently from her bench at the front of the room and exited through the private teacher door. My shock quickly turned to anger.
“What the hell is wrong with her?! Did she not understand how hard that was?”
I was so used to receiving outside validation from everyone my entire life that I had never learned to validate myself. I relied on my parents to say, “You played great,” after a recital or a teacher giving me nice comments on my homework, or Jillian Michaels in the exercise video saying, “Great job!” even though she couldn’t see me,” It was on this day that I began looking at my internal dialogue and how I spoke to myself. Perhaps meditation was starting to work after all.
Forgetting my earplugs was a huge mistake. Without fail, as soon as I had fallen asleep each night, loud snores erupted from one of my roommates. She was a tiny girl so the sounds she could produce surprised me.
A small divider separated our beds and not being able to speak or wake her up, I instead pushed the divider to shake her bed. Accidentally, I knocked the divider over on her bed. She woke up, glaring at me and I gave a slight pout face meaning “sorry.” Inside I chuckled. She deserved it. I had not had a decent sleep in five nights. I wanted to punch her.
During our first sit of the day, raindrops began falling on the roof, gently at first. Then the thunder started and the sky, which I could see through a sliver of window behind the pulled curtain, became dark. It was a welcome change from the sunny days that were too bright compared to our dark meditation room. The energy change in the room was palpable. Going from a meditative, dull state, now people seemed excited.
We practically ran out of the hall when the sitting was over to experience the storm. Anyone walking into this retreat by accident might have mistaken it for a psychiatric ward. One girl hugged a tree. An older woman turned her face upwards, arms raised to the sky. An obese girl with a long flowing skirt, ran out into the middle of the field and danced around like no one was watching. Up and down she bounced like a child on a blowup castle. It was like she defied gravity, swirling her skirt around in the pouring rain, thunder and lightening.
Pure joy poured out of her. I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t feel enlightened or blissful, but at least I didn’t feel angry.
In everyday life, ten days goes by very quickly, and it is hard to even remember what happened. In a 10-day silent meditation it feels infinitely long. I had already passed the halfway mark, but there here were still 36,000 seconds left before I reached Day 7.
Goenka speaks of the idea that craving and abortion lead to misery in his nightly discourses. At least that’s what I thought he had been saying for the last 5 days until I spoke with the teacher during our conference.
“Why does he bring up abortion in a non-secular retreat?” I asked.
“Abortion?” she responded, quite confused. “Ohhhhh, you mean aversion.”
Through his thick accent I had mistaken the word aversion for abortion for the last 5 days.
But I had not gone into to see her about his pronunciation this afternoon. I was still considering leaving. I had finally calmed down and no longer felt hostile toward my fellow meditators. I had learned that I need to work on self-validation. That seemed like a lot to figure out in six days. I was mentally exhausted and I still wasn’t convinced this was the right environment for me.
As the teacher pointed out, I was craving my “normal” life. Craving leads to misery kept echoing through my head from Goenka’s discourses. I didn’t disagree with it, I just didn’t see a light at the end of this tunnel for me. While my anger had abated, I was edgy, bored and sad.
I was so sick of hearing my thoughts echo throughout my head for hours. I wanted to go running. I wanted to check my voicemail, my emails. I wanted to talk to my friends. Anything but just sitting here with my thoughts. I hated being with myself.
At least once an hour during these last six days, I tried to plan an escape route. Usually I thought about running out to the road in the distance and hitchhiking back to Boston, or sneaking over to the men’s side, grabbing my dad and taking off.
I begged my teacher to be completely honest with me. “Do you think I should leave? Is anyone else having a hard time here?”
“Yes, in fact a lot of people have been in here today to see me with the same issues,” she empathized.
I continued, “Do people really leave here enlightened?”
“Enlightened is a strong word. But certainly many people do leave happier. I really recommend you give it another day.”
I spent the rest of my lunch break back in my room under my cozy blanket, the only thing that had been a comfort to me while here. I hadn’t been under my covers for more than a minute when I heard the sniffling and crying of my third roommate. She was under her covers also trying to suppress her sobs. For the first time since I had arrived here, I felt compassion. We were all going through our own private hells.
I had no idea what she was experiencing, but I knew it wasn’t pleasant. I wanted to hug her but of course that is against the rules, so I stayed under my blanket and just hoped she would feel better soon. This was boot camp for the mind, and it wasn’t supposed to be pleasant.
I was so curious as to how Dad was doing. In the past he and I had butted heads a lot and I had lacked patience when dealing with him. I knew he had signed up for this retreat as a way to bond with me but wasn’t sure how since we without seeing each other for all 10 days. But going through this torturous experience I felt closer to him already. And I could not wait to see him again and give him a big hug.
I woke up actually feeling a bit peppy. It was Day 7 and there were only three days left. I finally resolved to stay for the remainder. My meditations had been going by much more quickly. I was now able to sit with Strong Determination for the entire sittings. I hardly noticed the numbness in my legs when they fell asleep.
I had been able to channel what Goenka had been trying to instill in us since the beginning. Aversion and craving lead to misery. I now stopped craving the thought of leaving. I no longer had aversion to all the people around me. By not craving or having aversion I was able to appreciate the moment as it was. Through equanimity, I could observe, without judgment. Things were neither good nor bad, they just were. And all was impermanent.
We had moved on from concentrating on the area below our nose to scanning our entire body. On Day 8, I began to feel very sharp sensations in my upper left back, and before long in my entire back. I was by now used to observing sensations rather than labeling them “pain”. By this point, I had been meditating about 80 hours and doing little else, so I was in a different state of mind than my normal one. It seemed as though these sensations were actual beings, and were talking to me.
I listened closely.
“We are afraid you will be mean to us”.
“Who is ‘us’? I asked almost out loud, confused what they were referring to.
I continued to breathe and observe and listen.
“ Tell me, I’m listening,” I said patiently and meant it.
Steadily the pains spread and increasing in intensity throughout my entire body. The more I tried to understand what they were trying to communicate to me, the more intense they became. A flashbulb went off in my brain.
“I have been mean to you [my own body] for so long. I’m sorry. I realize it now.”
The pain increased.
“I would never speak to my friends the way that I do to you,” I continued. “I truly want you to tell me how you feel.”
Again the pain spread rampantly throughout my body. It was as if it was screaming at me. My body was on fire and I had to take my sweatshirt off. I felt as if I was being stabbed again and again with millions of pins all over a sunburned back. Every single cell in my back was screaming at the top of their lungs at me.
By now, observing sensations rather than judging or trying to alleviate them had become second nature . And I almost enjoyed the process. “I am here to listen,” I spoke gently to them. “I’m not going anywhere and will sit here as long as you need me to.”
This lasted over an hour until the gong rang. When I opened my eyes the pain had disappeared. I was now excited to go back into the next meditation to see what else I could accomplish. And sure enough the same thing happened. By the end of the day, my body had stopped screaming at me and we were in an intense conversation.
I realized how mean I had been to myself for so many years. I realized how it had affected my body, how I had stored these emotions. I wondered if this self-hatred had caused my breast cancer years before.
On the evening of the 9th day, my heart felt ready to explode with compassion for myself that I hadn’t ever felt before. In 36 years, this was the first time that I ever felt unconditional love for myself. And I felt love and compassion for everyone else around me, as well as for myself. I wanted to hug every one. I wanted to apologize to everyone for all the mean thoughts I had had towards them during the last 9 days. I wanted to run to dad and tell him I loved him and that I wanted to improve our relationship.
I came into this meditation not knowing what to expect or even really hoping for anything. I had signed up more out of curiosity than anything. But I was coming out of it 10 days later recharged, like I had a new lease on life and I felt balanced for the first time in years.
Goenka said, and I paraphrase, “If before you were unhappy about something for 6 hours, and now you are only unhappy for 3, you have gained 3 hours of happiness.” While I was skeptical that this euphoria would last, I finally had tools to help me with my emotions, reactions and had taken the first step on my path to happiness.
Day 10 had finally arrived!
Today we would finally be able to talk to each other and I would get to reunite with my dad.
I had become so used to silence that the idea of socializing again was not appealing. But once we had started talking we couldn’t stop. Comparing notes, we discussed what had been difficult or what bothered us. People’s faces had changed from expressionless for the past 10 days to vibrant full of life faces with huge glowing smiles.
I finally found Dad and because we still weren’t allowed physical contact I gave him an air hug. I had never been so happy to see him. We both started crying and laughing at the same time. We had shared in a unique and intense experience, and it brought us closer.
Dad and I got into the car next morning at 8am on the morning of the 11th day and headed back to Boston.
“We’re free!” he said as we got into the car.
“I’ve never been this happy,” I said, though I wasn’t sure if it was because I had just accomplished a huge feat, or the fact that I was leaving, or the fact that something in me had actually changed. I felt closer to him than I had ever felt and had a love pouring out of me not only for him and myself but for others.
Usually a six hour drive back to Boston, it was going to take us 9 hours with the bumper to bumper traffic. People honked. Swore. Flipped each other off. It was anything but silent and the noise grated on my ears a bit. But even through this commotion, everything in the world seemed more peaceful.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I heard a guy scream out of his open window at the other car.
I smiled through compassion. I would have been acting like him just 10 days ago. But today nothing seemed to bother me. I was taken back to the idea of impermanence and the fact that everything changes – something that we had been taught but that I had also learned through experience during these past 10 days. In the meditations, there were times my legs were cramping, my back had shooting pains or I was miserable. And although at the time I never thought it would end, it did. The cramping stopped. The shooting pains eventually ended. And eventually I wasn’t miserable.
I wondered how long this peacefulness would last in my every day life.
“So do you think you’ll continue to meditate?” my dad asked.
“I think so. But I will certainly never set foot in a 10-day silent meditation again!”
That was two years ago and I am about to do my 4th 10-day meditation.
When I arrived back in Boston after the first meditation, my mom saw such profound changes in both me and my dad, in our interactions with her and with each other that she also decided to do a 10-day.
While the extreme peacefulness that I felt when I first left meditation didn’t last, I had much less anxiety in my daily life, I had more compassion for myself and others and I was able to be more balanced in my moods. I did not continue meditating once I got home and so the effects began to wear off which is why I signed up for a second meditation.
Each time has been very unique. They are all difficult in different ways, however, it has never been as horrible as the first time because I know that at the end of the suffering of 10 days, I will come out happier.