The Stranger Next Door
It took me six years to find an 11 consecutive days that I could take off to do a Vipassana Meditation Retreat.
I’m 26 years old and heard about the Vipassana from a friend in my senior year of college. I was really excited about it then but I was working two jobs and, at the time, I didn’t believe in taking vacations. I had been working nonstop up until about six months ago when I resigned from my position at a top-tier radio station in Manhattan and decided to take my life in a new direction.
I was a focused, dedicated, smart, compassionate, virtuous, moral, creative young adult who happened to have found myself in a number of miserable sales role for the last six years of my life. A meditation retreat seemed to be the perfect way to solidify my creative ambitions and gain some clarity.
I began to have second thoughts , as soon as I pulled into the dirt parking lot of Camp Easter and saw Lululemon clad hippies lazily sprawled across the green campgrounds. “Six years,” I kept reminding myself. “I’ve waited to try this thing for six years.” There was no way I could bail now. Plus, I had picked up three chicks along the way through the retreat rideshare program and had grown pretty fond of them during the four hour trek from northern Jersey through Philly and into Chestertown, MD. I couldn’t just leave them there. Well maybe I could, I’d just have to block their numbers. I don’t need any bad juju clogging my text message inbox. JK. I’d never do something like that.
All of you who have attended (and survived) the 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat probably know the feeling. The bravado and sense adventure that held firm in the face of skeptical family and friends seemed to slowly recede behind the shadow of my ego as the ostentatiousness of my decision grew more apparent.
Everyone else at this retreat seemed to have a sincere eagerness that bordered on reverence for the process of jumping head first into the unknown. And here I was, a burnt out New Yorker on the verge of a nervous breakdown simply looking for some solace. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place.
Before we were allowed to unpack, we were asked to sign an agreement that reminded us of the strict course rules, which included Noble Silence. That’s when reality fully set in. I loved talking. I worked at radio station for Christ’s sake! So the Noble Silence business seemed impossible.