My Vipassana Meditation Retreat Experience

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vipassana-buddhaIn September 2016, I spontaneously decided to attend a Vipassana meditation retreat in the midst of some personal, spiritual, and professional turmoil. I was under the most stress and pressure I’d ever experienced and had been for the last 6-8 months. My agent dropped my contract the day before I left, and I had just come to the realization that dreams don’t exist. We moved out to LA and sacrificed everything (savings, marriage, time, etc.) to follow a “dream” I had since I was a child. However, when we begin to live more consciously, everything seems to be directly linked to liberation and freedom. We live in a slave system, and it isn’t natural to work 40 hours a week to earn hourly wages to pay for necessities the Earth has provided. Money began to seem like a huge burden because I was going to have to earn it by either being exploited or exploiting others. I hadn’t had health care in 2 years and was ready to fully unplug, with hopes of finding a solution for the deep hole I had dug myself into. There are far too few wise elders in my life, as most have been brainwashed by this Matrix we live in. So I quit life for ten days.

MY EXPERIENCE

I was inclined to try this technique because the Buddha’s teaching is not religious. According to him, you have to work out your salvation; he can only show you the path. I am not religious and am very skeptical of any sectarian philosophy, but Vipassana technique is for anyone, anywhere, of any religious background. I also liked that it was completely free, they don’t accept money from wealthy benefactors, and are anti-capitalism. The staff/teachers are volunteers, and the students can attend as many retreats as they want which are entirely funded by past students. Once you become a past student they invite you to donate by setting up a discrete table in the corner of the dining hall on the last day – no buckets are passed around, and there are no promises of salvation after you die.

During the course, we followed a rigorous schedule for ten days, waking up at 4 am and meditating for 6-10 hours a day. Men and women were segregated. The management, kitchen staff, teachers, and coordinators were all volunteers, but they took their jobs very seriously. If you were five minutes late to the group meditation sessions, the management would come knocking on your door. At the same time, I felt the desire to abide by their strict rules because I felt very lucky to have the opportunity. The time and money of others, strangers at that, was paying for my liberation – with no strings attached. Everyone was incredibly kind, patient, and understanding, so I felt obliged to follow the rules and adhere to the course guidelines as closely as possible. We observed “noble silence” which kept us from making as much as eye contact with fellow students and watched nightly lectures by the founder of the Vipassana centers, G.N. Goenka.

Before the course began we had to agree to follow five precepts:
No killing
No lying
No stealing
No sexual intercourse
No intoxicants

Sounds easy, right? I spent eight days following the precepts perfectly. I didn’t have any sexual thoughts, didn’t steal anyone’s ponytail holders, and even rescued a frantic ant from the cafeteria. That was until the ninth day rolled around, and I killed a gnat without thinking. We also weren’t allowed to read, write, sing, exercise, eat snacks or outside food, use scented lotions or hair products, wear tight fitting clothes, and we couldn’t communicate with other students, members of the opposite sex, or outside friends/family.

VIPASSANA CALIFORNIA VS ELSEWHERE

The campus I attended was the center in Twentynine Palms, CA, about three hours outsvipassana-globalhqide of Los Angeles. It was close to a major road, but far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The climate was hot & dry, but the facility had everything you needed: vipassana, California style. The dorms had air conditioning, heat, the food was high quality and DELICIOUS, the restrooms were immaculate, and I felt protected from any source of danger. They provided extra lotion, tissues, tampons, cough drops, and pretty much anything else you may need. I think the most incredible part of the campus was watching the sunrise and set, and star-gazing at nighttime.

A very cool part of taking Vipassana, California style, was that nobody judges or defiles anyone else’s spiritual beliefs. In my home state of Missouri, if you’re not a Christian, it’d be a mistake to attend a Christian church to observe their beliefs. If people know you’re not a member, they’ll stare, say nasty things, and may even get you kicked out. There were students from Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim backgrounds, Indigos, Starseeds, Monks, Wiccans, and Atheists. And it made no difference. After we had broken silence, I talked about cannabis, DMT, & psychedelics with one group and Jesus with another.

Throughout the Vipassana meditation retreat, there were very few distractions. Without highways, loud generators, multi-story buildings, Facebook, Instagram, wifi, chemical food, fluoridated water, music, weed, alcohol, noisy neighbors, crystals, books, nobody to laugh with, work, pets, or bills, I got to chill with my thoughts. I didn’t realize how sabotaging “real life” was until I struggled to readjust after the course ended. The transformation you can go through in ten days is mind blowing, especially without major distractions.

THE TEACHING

vipassana-goenkaAttachment breeds misery. Because of ignorance, we react to sensations and our unconscious thoughts. This generates either cravings and aversions. These cravings manifest as an attachment to a particular material thing, outcome, or experience. Fully understanding a sensation, as it is and not as you want it to be, puts an end to craving and aversion. We observed the arising and passing away of sensation, the relishing of them, the danger, and their fading away at an experiential level.

I learned that the immediate cause of suffering and desire is not outside but in my mind. Suffering, at the root, is a substanceless sensation. I only respond based on past experiences, emotions, beliefs, and programs. Vipassana technique is about learning to deal with the inner reality of a sensation. The wisdom of impermanence must be understood and experienced to liberate ourselves from misery. Equanimity between good and bad sensations is the key.

There are four stages in the habit pattern of the mind: cognizing, recognizing, feeling, and reacting. An example, you observe the sensation of a mosquito biting you (cognizing), you realize mosquitos have bitten you before (recognizing), so you begin to feel annoyed and angry (feeling), and you react by smacking your arm, and killing the mosquito before it can fly away (reacting).

The mind is always reacting to unconscious sensations on the body: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. The habit pattern of the mind is to react rather than observe. Vipassana technique teaches us to quiet the mind to see even the subtlest sensation. You change the habit pattern by realizing the entire physical structure of the mind & body is constantly evolving. Life itself is a process of growing, dying, arising & passing away. There’s no meaning or purpose in generating aversion toward something you don’t prefer because misery is inevitable, but it is also impermanent.

POST VIPASSANA MEDITATION RETREAT

I was so excited to reunite with my family after such a transformational experience and can see things from a perspective I never had before. I lost 8 lbs at the retreat, proving a mental workout may be more intense than a physical workout. I also became adverse to eating some foods like chocolate and oil (I used to fry everything). My relationship is much more peaceful and tranquil. I don’t interrupt my husband by prioritizing my agenda/thoughts over his like I used to.

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I have to admit I feel a little uneasy. The amount of distraction we deal with is insane. The societal obstruction of personal space is constant. I’ve heard about the effects of wifi, stress, and sitting at a desk all day. But it’s different when you step away long enough to experience them. Readjusting feels like getting into an ice bath after running a marathon. A necessary, but painful experience. It’s forcing me to put my newfound discipline and awareness to the test. But I learned to be equanimous and experienced how everything is always changing. Because of this newfound wisdom, I feel a sense of well-being.

Getting away from all the pollution and stress allowed my mind and body to heal. When I first moved to LA, I was overcome with blackheads and a lot of my hair fell out. An unexpected benefit of doing vipassana California style is that my skin has cleared up. I also made a conscious effort to feel gratitude during the rigorous retreat, and I’m glad now that it’s over. I would never insist on someone attending a Vipassana retreat. However, I am now an Evangelist. A desire for liberation has to be strong enough to will yourself to complete the course and follow the guidelines. I realize not everyone is ready for that. I’ll do it again – maybe even once a year.

Click Here to Attend a FREE 10-Day Vipassana Retreat

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How to Get to 5th Dimensional Reality

There’s a lot of talk about “5D Earth” and how the Age of Aquarius will allow us to enter the 5th dimension, but not much explaining the process. Below I’ve given an in-depth synopsis of how to transition to greater spirituality. Let’s go over the first 4 dimensions of consciousness so you might have a meta-view of how complex our world really is.

CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE 1ST-DIMENSION
1st-dimensional consciousness is still. The level of consciousness that resonates in this dimension is the “Mineral” Kingdom. We are presently residing in 3rd Dimensional consciousness and our current science has not proven that 1st-dimensional minerals are conscious beings. Curiously, healers and shaman have been using crystals as healing tools for centuries. Based on my personal experience with crystals, I believe there is consciousness at the mineral level – however subtle.

ladybugsIn humans, the first dimension is a portion of our bodies representing minerals, water, and genetic codes that are the foundation of our physical forms. If we were to access this level of our unconscious, we could connect with the individual molecules in our environment. This level is the gateway between the microcosm and the macrocosm.

CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE 2ND-DIMENSION
2nd-dimensional consciousness is flat. The consciousness that resonates to this dimension is that of the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. This level does not possess self-awareness. These beings are only conscious of their species, and survival needs like feeding, fighting, and procreation. They live solely “in the moment” and based on survival of the fittest.

Human second-dimensional consciousness serves to direct the lower brain, autonomic nervous system, and to regulate life support functions. Our five physical senses resonate in the 3rd dimension, and these functions are an unconscious component of ourselves.

Unlike “civilized” humans,“primitive” peoples are much more aware of their “animal instincts” and how they are part of a greater whole – with respect for all life forms and the balance of Nature.

CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE 3RD-DIMENSION
3rd-dimensional consciousness contains length, height, width, depth, and volume. The consciousness of this dimension resonates to the higher Animal and Human Kingdoms. It has all the elements of the 1st and 2nd-dimensional beings including water, minerals, genetic coding, biological matter, awareness of species, survival functions, as well as an individual soul. The individual Soul distinguishes humans from the others in the Animal Kingdom who have a group Soul.

3rd-dimensional consciousness is trapped in a time/space and cause/effect paradigm. This dimension and 3d Earth is a “school” which our Souls attend by inhabiting humanoid physical bodies to gain more information about creation. Life mirrors what we are seeking to understand, and creation occurs via our thoughts and feelings. Manifestation is slowed down in order to track the circumstances of what we hold in our consciousness through the experience.

As wmultidimensional-beinge progress through life, we go from powerless to independent. We begin to understand our personal power, gain responsibility, self-confidence, and learn to trust ourselves. As we gain trust and respect for ourselves, we become confident and self-reliant. Then we can become responsible for others. This is the progression of life in the 3rd dimension which typically coincides with age in this time/space reality. A dysfunctional family is created when we become parents (responsible for others) before we have completely exited the dependent stage. We end up with several generations living as dependents, and no one with the self-confidence to be responsible for others.

The conundrum of the 3rd dimension is that society and science programs us to believe the only reality that exists is the one we perceive with our 5 physical senses. This dimension only contains length, height, width, depth, and volume. However, because we have an individual Soul, the ability to remember the past & perceive the future, AND simultaneously we can remain aware of the present – we tend to use our 3rd-dimensional reality to advance ourselves and question “what more is out there?”

The trap at this state of consciousness is that the spirit congeals into matter, and consciousness is limited to the individual ego. The development of a strong sense of ego is gained, at the cost of losing our sense of group identity. We often trade our sense of group identity for a strong sense of ego. Awareness of our Spiritual Self, I don’t mean through religion, is remembered when we expand our consciousness to encompass higher dimensions. If we release our dependency on others and forgive those who made us powerless victims, we ascend to higher dimensions where we are aware that we alone create our reality. Our early 3rd dimensional “unconscious” self-sabotage, no longer takes place. Our consciousness expands from individual consciousness to group > community > national > collective > planetary > and ultimately galactic consciousness. To reach the 4th dimension, we must eliminate all fear and negativity. The most important areas to master are love, oneness, forgiveness, and gratitude.

CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE 4TH-DIMENSION

immortal4th-dimensional consciousness contains everything from the lower dimensions, our astral self, and the realm of dreams. The fourth dimension is also known as the Astral Plane, where our “higher” selves or OverSouls reside. This plane is etheric and our perception of past, present, and future is more fluid; known as the realm of telepathy, psychic ability, imagination, intuition, magic, dreaming, and creativity. At this level, we reintegrate our individual identity into the group as it is the last vibration where physical vessels contain individual consciousness. It is the realm of the “shape-shifters” in mythology. Many shaman can actually ground their astral form upon the 3rd dimension to temporarily change form. As the 4th dimension is not restricted by time or space, we can dream of an entire lifetime and wake up to find that only fifteen minutes of physical time has passed.

The fourth dimension holds awareness of our body’s 1st & 2nd-dimensional components, as well as all our past third dimensional lives. Other than conquering fear & negativity, we can expedite the process to achieving 4th-dimensional reality by meditating, remembering our dreams, and having intense experiences of passion, creativity, emotion, empathy, or spirituality.

Technically, while sleeping we are unconscious in the 3rd dimension and conscious in the 4th dimension.  If born with an innate connection to the 4th-dimension, we must “work” to ground our consciousness in the 3rd-dimensional world, no matter how confusing or hostile. Those born without this 4D connection may not even believe in the “higher self” and are inadvertently cut off from experiencing greater realities.

Our higher astral self can give us guidance through expanded perception, but the 4th dimension still has the polarity of light and dark. In the 4th dimension, thought and feelings create reality much more quickly than in the 3rd dimension. It is dangerous to have any lingering fears in this realm, as it will create evil as easily and quickly as love creates joy.

4D Subplanes

The Lower Astral Plane

body-1This is where all the fear and negativity are projected from the 3D physical plane. Known as “Hell” by many religious sects, this is the true darkness. Put simply, 4th-dimensional consciousness amplifies 3rd-dimensional emotions. If you are living a poor existence in the 3rd-dimension, you are likely experiencing Hell in 4D, and a path must be forged to higher astral planes.

The Middle 4th-Dimension

Also known as the Land of Faery, this realm is the pathway through the fear and darkness of the Lower Astral Plane. After we have experienced Faery, we can travel in our 4D or astral bodies to the Emotional Plane, and learn to master our emotions. We can also travel into the Mental Plane and learn mastery of our thoughts. The Causal Plane, or Higher Mental Plane, is where we master the Law of Cause and Effect. Finally, the Spiritual Plane connects us to higher guidance, God, Source, and the Great I AM. I have listed the subplanes below from highest to lowest:

SPIRITUAL (CAUSAL): Master the Law of Cause and Effect & Spiritual Guidance
MENTAL: Mastery over our thoughts
EMOTIONAL (ASTRAL): Mastery over our emotions
LAND OF FAERY: Pathway out of Lower Astral; mixes emotional, mental, & causal
LOWER ASTRAL: Mastery over fear and negativity

ETHERIC: interface between 3D & 4D

The Etheric Body is a vibration between the third and fourth dimension. This body encompasses the physical body.

4th-Dimensional Bodies

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All the 4th-dimensional bodies exist over, under, around, through, above, and below the physical body, but are not seen with the 5 physical senses. If we learn to perceive the 4th dimension consciously, we can expand our awareness enough to enter the Superconscious Mind of the 5th dimension.

Fearful emotions make for a tumultuous and uncomfortable ride. Higher planes will remain out of reach if our personal imbalances are not corrected. To journey through higher planes we must keep our thoughts harmonious and our feelings centered around love, an infinite source of balance. We are only at the beginning of our journey my friends. In the next article, I will explain the importance of reahcing the 5th dimension.