Tomorrow I'm driving out to North Fork, CA for my first Vipassana meditation retreat. If you're curious about it, you can read up on the technique and the course here. It's 10 days long, and they really mean 10 days -- the arrival and departure days don't count. On each of those 10 days there will be some instruction and over 10 hours of meditation. I've done very little meditation in the past, and no Vipassana, so this is what we call jumping in head first. :-)
It's also a (mostly) silent retreat. There are specific times set aside when you can talk privately with a teacher, and of course they need to talk to teach you anything. But other than that, you're supposed to basically pretend you're alone there and ignore everyone else. If you have a cell phone, they lock it up. So needless to say, you won't be hearing from me for a while. I'll probably share about it when I get back, though, and in the meantime there are some other very detailed and amusing accounts of other people's experiences that you can read here and here.
Am I nervous about this? Sure, a bit. I'm not even allowed to have a book or a journal there, and that's nearly as scary as imagining trying to just sit for 10+ hours a day. I've never tried anything like this with my mind or my body and I have no idea what it will be like. And while I know I have some crud in my mind that needs to be cleared out, it's tough even thinking of letting go of that to focus on meditation so single-mindedly, not to mention the more pleasant thoughts. I'm also more uncomfortable than I'd expected to be with the idea of completely cutting off from my normal life for so long. I have silly anxieties about missing things, even completely ordinary things.
But there will be more dances when I get back, and my friends and family will still be here, as will my blog and my books and my music and anything else I feel so attached to. And 10 days isn't really all that long for something that has been such a life changing experience for many people. So overall, do I still want to do this? Definitely. If you want to know more about why, here's why.
Big thanks go to Eric Case for the inspiration and encouragement to do this.