Enjoy the Silence and Solitude : 5 Insights from Vipassana Meditation

ヴィパッサナー瞑想10日間コースinネパール(c)Megumi Mitani Column

Hello! It's Megumi (@meg_intheworld).

When I told my friends I was in Nepal and planned to attend a 10-day meditation retreat, their responses were full of excitement.

“Wow! You may attain enlightenment!”
“Your life must be changed!”
“Look forward to hearing how you’ll change!”

They seemed more excited than myself.

So, I was a bit puzzled when I completed the 10-day course, and they asked me “How was it? (Star eyes emoji) “, “You are back! Share your experience!”, “What was like? I have many questions! (Smile emoji)”

Because, my experience wasn’t like what they expected or dramatic. It wasn’t a life-changing experience, nor changed my values on life.

It’s more like reaffirmation of my existing values and understanding of myself. “Yeah, right. This is me: who I am, what I value.”

Some people recall past events and grapple with difficult emotions during the retreat, but I didn’t experience any of that.

The only mystical experiences I’ve had were losing track of time when I went deep in meditation, and feeling like my mind was in space or somewhere else. However, these weren’t new to me; I’d experienced them before Vipassana.

Still, those 10 days (technically 12 days) were meaningful and valuable to me. So, I’ll summarize what I learned during Vipassana 10-day retreat.

1. Silence is Sacred

For me, the biggest takeaway from the 12-day retreat was “Silence is sacred”.

As someone who prefers a quiet and peaceful life, excluding music events or festivals, I found “Noble Silence” where you are not allowed to talk with others for 10 days, to be effortless and manageable.

In fact, it allowed me to relax and be my authentic self.

My fellow participants and servers gave me some kind comments once  “Noble Silence” is over.

“You’ve been always calm and peaceful.”
“Is this your first retreat? You seem like an old student. Great work!”
“You have a peaceful, warm, and positive presence.”
“I like you. You’re a good meditator.”

I believe this experience affirms the power of silence and stillness. In our daily lives, we are constantly bombarded with unwanted noise that can be overwhelming and tiring. However, during the retreat, this noise was largely absent, allowing me to focus on myself and I was simply happy to be there.

2. Pain Can Be a Tool

One of the Vipassana techniques that resonated with me was the advice from the assistant teacher on DAY 5: “Pain can be a tool.”

I had knee pain from the 10 hours of daily sitting, and the pain seemed to accumulate and spread day by day. I believed it wouldn’t go away unless I sat less or found the perfect posture.

However after taking her advice and practicing for a few hours, I learned that it can actually disappear.

This made me wonder if this technique could also help with migraines or other types of pain.

3.Expanding Perspectives (Don’t focus on a tiny thing)

Just like physical pain, psychological pain and suffering prevent us from seeing situations objectively. That’s something I’ve come to realize through observing myself and others.

On DAY 7, I was focused and concerned on the person next to me who was struggling with intense anger and holding onto pain. The strong negative energy was quite overwhelming.

However, upon realizing that my positive and warm roommate had been watching over me all along, I was able to shift my perspective. I recognized, “Oh, there were five people around me with positive energy or in a neutral state. Why was I so focused on just one person? I’m safe here. I can focus on myself now.”

On DAY 6, I witnessed another student fixating physical pain, turning it into psychological pain, and becoming emotional.

In the same way, I’ve observed other people holding onto emotional pain, clinging to false beliefs that only cause them more suffering.

Pain and suffering can be overpowering. However, if you detach yourself from it and observe the situation objectively, you will recognize that these “pains” are often just like seeds of watermelons.

4. The Power of Routine

When I saw the 10-day schedule for the first time, I thought it was a joke.

Wake up at 4 AM, meditate for 10 hours, and lights out at 9:30 PM?

Even after I arrived at the Vipassana Center and set up my bed, I wasn’t sure if I could wake up at 4 AM, being a night owl myself.

Surprisingly, waking up at 4:00 AM became a reality.

Even while still asleep, my body somehow knew it was time. I would turn on the lights, and slowly waking myself up on the bed while waiting for my roommate to get ready. By 4:15 AM, I would get up and ready, then by 4:30 AM I was settled in the meditation hall.

The first few days was like “What’s next? Where do I go?”. However, by DAY 3, my body remembered the routine and move effortlessly. Even meditating for 10 HOURS a day became a familiar routine..!

Obviously, meditating for 10 hours a day is unrealistic in my real world, but I’ve continued with 1 hour in the morning and 30 minutes at night.

5. Humans Need Dialogue

While I emphasized the importance of silence, I also want to add that humans need dialogue.

Even without eye contact or conversation, I thought we could still communicate nonverbally through presence if you pay attention to the other person.

However, on DAY 10 I realized that “the person we see and the person they truly are different” and our assumptions could be quite wrong.

My roommate, another girl, and I talked before starting “Noble Silence” and felt a connection between the three of us on the first day.

Throughout the course, the center assigned seats for the three of us in a triangle formation. This meant we were always in each other’s view during meditation and meals.

We all thought the other two girls were doing well and in a good state during the entire course.

However, each of us faced our own challenges at times, and we didn’t realize it; we had no idea how they were actually feeling inside.

This was a great reminder for me to think about even though someone seems fine from the outside, they may be struggling internally.

This is why I prefer engaging people with active listening and having meaningful conversations, rather than just a fun chat, not only with my friends and family but also with people I meet on the street or in random places. It helps me to understand who they actually are and know their feelings.

Ok, those are 5 things I’ve learned from 10-day Vipassana Meditation course. Thanks for reading!

I’ll share more of my personal notes in the next post.

If you’ve also done Vipassana, or any type of meditation retreat, I’d love to hear about your experience! 🙂 Leave a comment on here, or DM me on Instagram @meg_intheworld.


If you want to read more about my 10-day Vipassana experience in Nepal, please check out the articles below. I’ve shared my experience very detailed; it almost feels like I’m sharing my personal journal in a public space. It’s kinda embarrassing, but that’s me, and I’m okay with being myself. So, if you are interested, please enjoy.

All articles are written in Japanese, so please use Google translate or similar tool. Also, please understand that the articles might be not easy to read since it structured for Japanese readers.