“In my life I've done a lot of physical things like marathons, challenge races and weight training, but vipassana was one of the hardest things I've ever done because it was so dependent purely on the mind. When we work out and go through physical pain, you can push through it because there's a stimulus there. When you sit in silence, the hardest part about it is that's there is nothing else to do besides face your thoughts, face your feelings, and face what's going on inside.” – Josh Trent
Vipassana Meditation – A Spartan Race For The Mind
Vipassana Meditation – 10 Days In The Desert of Your Soul
Today's show welcomes fitness and wellness celebrity Scott Colby as our guest host interviewing Wellness Force Founder, Josh Trent, on his 10 day Vipassana meditation experience in Joshua Tree, CA at the Dhamma Southern California Vipassana Center .
This episode is for you if you've never meditated in your life and it has always been something you've wanted to try, or even if you're a seasoned meditator looking for that next step on how to grow your life's practice.
We're also going to discuss Scott Colby's partnership with Pencils of Promise and his incredible service to Guatemalan children schools through the “say it with gratitude stationary sets” fund raiser towards the end of the episode which Wellness Force is honored to support.
Why do hundreds of thousands of people globally complete an annual vipassana?
Most students embark on a vipassana with the intention to achieve greater inner peace and harmony through the mental training of “thought purification” which allows one to face life's tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way. Vipassana meditation, essentially, is a practice of what founder Mr. S.N. Goenka calls “The Art of Living” that one can use to get out of their own way to begin making greater positive contributions in society.
This may sound empowering and healing, which many studies report to be true, but be warned: this practice is not for everyone, rather it is only for the one who feels called to it at the right time in their life.
As Yogi & Best-selling Author Karan Bajaj says: “Just sitting with your spine erect for eleven hours a day can be a challenge, now add complete silence and two sparse meals a day to it, and you’re guaranteed some level of physical and emotional agony.”
Why You Get To Do A Vipassana
Meditation is a essentially a practice that teaches focusing attention inwards. This could be done with a mantra, breathing techniques, or by using visualizations. There are numerous ways to practice meditation, and all of them center around becoming more self aware.
The main difference of vipassana however is found in its technique of “body scanning” that students learn through a process of relaxation without the normal stimuli of instant gratification it has become so accustomed to and even in some cases, addicted to.
In an era filled with the weapons of mass distraction, vipassana arms students with the tools they can use to rise above mindless actions in our modern world.
Because of the long durations of sittings in the training, vipassana allows the student to discover powerful insights about the subconscious roots of their unresolved anger, discontent, and other emotional issues. Once these issues can be seen, felt, and worked through in silence, a new mental narrative can be spoken which helps to lower overall stress and anger while boosting future emotional balance and mental health.
Vipassana training is also helpful in maintaining emotional balance, treating neurosis, and other unhealthy emotional conditions.
The foundation of the vipassana practice is sīla — moral conduct. Sīla provides a basis for the development of samādhi — concentration of mind; and purification of the mind is achieved through paññā — the wisdom of insight.
Benefits of vipassana include:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced cortisol levels
- Corrected circadian rhythm
- Increased body awareness leading to lifestyle change
- Increased mental faculties for memory, cognition, and decision making
- Insights on how to let go of existential stressors
- The formations of new healthy habits
- Increased patience and persistence in the tasks of everyday life
“I became interested in this vipassana journey about 4 months ago after interviewing Karan Bajaj on the podcast and felt the pull to go to the desert for the 10 days of silent meditation. When I arrived and sat for the first night, I quickly felt just how intense and demanding these 10 days would be.” – Josh Trent
The Benefits of Delayed Gratification
In our current society, where smart phones and calendars rule, if we're not paying attention, it is far too easy to become a slave to the mind.
By intentionally practicing the art of delayed gratification with Vipassana, students begin noticing the difference in thought processes where they can consciously control the directions of which the Amygdala sends its impulses.
Beyond just the physical challenges of sitting in silence for 100+ hours in 10 days on the body, the long stillness and silence also supports the growth of new synapses where increased mental toughness, patience, and delayed gratification can further develop.
Benefits of practicing delayed gratification include:
- Increased happiness
- Improvements in practicing gratitude
- Greater financial habits and health
- Improved physical health
- Higher levels of appreciation
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” — Leonardo da Vinci
A Spartan Race For The Mind
For the 10 days of the course, all students agree to maintain “noble silence” which includes refraining from talking, exercising, looking at other students, and communicating by hand gestures with other students. With the removal of all stimuli, the metaphor of vipassana is like “a spartan race for the mind.”
As Josh Trent says:
“By day 7 – I had enough. 7 grueling days of going through what felt like excruciating pain with a numbness in my butt and a stabbing in my hips I'd never experienced before.
The 4am wake up gong at my window. Two hours of meditation before a breakfast of oatmeal.
The strict daily routine in the confined environments. No writing, reading, or exercise.
There were around 100+ of us sitting in a dimly lit meditation hall sun up to sun down.
The distractions of modern life—phones, work, movies, music—all gone.
All that is left do do is sit for 7-10 hours a day in total silence and breathe.
I glanced around and could see I wasn't the only one struggling.
I had a few really bad days on 3 and 5, and on day 7 my only solace was living hour by hour.
Among the pain, there were moments, sometimes even a 30 minute blocks where I felt waves of compassion and love so profoundly, that I almost didn't know how to deal with them.
But I did.
And when I emerged on the other side after the 10 days, I left the center with a clean mind, immense gratitude for life, with love and compassion for family, friends, and colleagues like never before.” – Josh Trent
Links From Today's Show
- Southern California Vipassana Center
- Vipassana Meditation – Dhamma.org
- Scott Colby's “Say It With Gratitude Stationary Sets“
- Scott Colby's Ultimate Gratitude Summit
- Dr. John Gray's Interview With Josh
- Dr. John Gray's Work With Meditation
- Karan Bajaj's Interview With Josh Trent
- Karan Bajaj's Vipassana Blog
- Sarah Maxwell – San Diego Mindfulness Meditation Teacher
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