all my heroes are weirdos

We're All Mad Here

Science & Spirituality

After spending the first three days facetiously frolicking about the place, day four was when we really got down to business.

It was our first real day of actual Vipassana meditation and when the tears started falling from my eyes.


First of all let me make one thing clear; the word retreat in this context is possibly one of the greatest misnomers of all time.

I had friends asking if I came out of it feeling incredible, how relaxing it was, did I do yoga, get massages and have lots of rest.

Erm no, I did absolutely none of those things.

In fact, I’m more likely to associate Vipassana with anything I’ve read about wartime Japanese torture techniques and I came out looking and feeling like I was in dire need of a spa, or a hug, or both.

I barely slept more than four hours a night on a thin slab of wood in ice cold temperatures, was starved from midday onwards and endured extreme physical pain.

I experienced a mental tension I can’t find the words to describe for twleve hours a day for ten days straight, sat in a cold room of pitch black silence breathing in burp particles.

And there wasn’t a decent cup of coffee in sight.


With that kind of an introduction it may sound like a Vipassana is something you’re subjected to rather than willingly opt to take part in, but au contraire mon ami, au contraire.

I chose to be there and I chose to be there over what was once my favourite time of the year.

Peoples’ motives for taking part will obviously vary; there’s the Curious Georges, the ones looking for food and shelter at the cost of a tiny donation, if any donation at all, and I guess there’s the ones who also want to be seen to be doing something yogi-esque for some sort of social media kudos.

However, I do think the majority of people who attend are, like me, believers in the power of meditation and are there to face their pain and suffering head on.

It could be pain from the past or pain in the present, or a bit of both, but they’re there to try and prevent themselves from carrying that pain forward into the future.

There was the girl who’s parents had always resented her for not being a boy because of China’s One Child Policy.

There was a lady from Vietnam who had the most enormous purple scar right across her body that looked like she’d had a scrap with Captain Hook. It was from when she’d had liver cancer eight years ago and was told she was going to die – also a time when her husband left her for somebody else.

There was a girl who’s fatherly neglect was making her seek similarly destructive relationships romantically and she was in a never-ending cycle of gettig hurt.

I heard lots of stories like these that made my eyes well up in an instant.

I’ve got people in my close circles who have gambling addictions, damagingly low self esteem, are alcohlics or drug addicts, victims of sexual abuse, victims of domestic violence and people who’ve gone through awful divorces.

There are people who got bullied when they were in school and twenty years later still can’t let go, people who have grown up as victims of their own parent’s abuse and now bully their partners. There are people who have been diagnosed as bipolar or manically depressed.

Every single person on this planet suffers.

There is no exception to the rule.


Vipassana meditation technique is something I hadn’t been taught before but actually I think I’ve come across it almost accidentally over the last couple of years.

The only tears I cried that day were for others; whenever I heard somebody silently sobbing, I’d join them. My heart would ache and the tears falling down my face were theirs.

I’d wonder why they were crying and wish I could take away their pain or give them a hug and tell them everything was going to be okay.

I felt a little bit envious too; they were tapping into the deep rooted negativities of their mind and setting them free.

Where were mine hiding and why didn’t they want to surface?

Then I remembered Goenka’s words which did become borderline irritating when we’d heard them a hundred times, but were wise nonetheless.

Patiently and persistently, patiently and persistently and you are bound to be successful

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