Soul tripping: Nothing. Absolutely nothing! No fancy clothes, no make-up, no books, not even my phone – stripped of the trappings of consumerism and shorn of any pretentious ideas that I may have of social media fame; I signed up for a solitary adventure. Nestled in a single travel bag were my essentials and the highlight of this travel was SILENCE. Indeed, you read it correctly – ten days of Vipassana meditation in silence.
No communication with the outside world. Instead of the usual travel fanfare and excitement of
discovering a new place and posting gorgeous selfies; this time I’d have pretty much nothing to show for
this. It wasn’t the usual trip but then soul searching isn’t the usual travel map either.
My nervousness was palpable. I could barely keep still. As the car winded its way to Dhamma Paphulla,
Alur, ahead of Bangalore; I did second guess myself a zillion times. Ten days is a lot of time. Ten days of
silence. What if I forgot to speak after that? What if I couldn’t stay silent? What am I doing here? Why
did I even sign up for this deep dive within?
As the cab pulled away from the drive-way, its taillights a receding dot; I made my way to the journey of
a lifetime. For those who are newbies; Vipassana is a meditation technique that includes ten days of
absolute, bone-pinching silence and self-reflection. It is stark, solitary, systematic and spiritual. Instead
of connecting to any outside source of Divinity; the journey is directed inwards – to one’s own self.
There is no promise of salvation plastered on the walls; nor any mantras given to chant. Just peeling of
mental, emotional, physical layers that we have inherited and ingrained in us to connect with and reveal
our truth to our own selves; in silence. The premise is rather simple – to see things as they really are,
rather than clouded by our own mental and emotional filters.
The environs were comfortable and pretty much hostel-like, with a deceptively simple time-table that
completely belies the intensity of the programme. In a nutshell; it read like wake up- meditate-
breakfast and bath – meditate – lunch – meditate – dinner and lights-out. There is a short discourse at
the end of the day but that’s pretty much it. As my eyes adjusted to the new surroundings; there was a
surge of pride topped with arrogance that floated through my mind –of course, I could do it. Sit and
Of course, I could. Hadn’t I aced my way through tough meetings, presentations and reports like a
ninja?!I was grossly overconfident and very soon, I was to realize that.
First day of Soul tripping
The first day began with a 4 am wake-up call followed by two hours of meditation. Just sit still,
concentrating on your breath, feeling every sensation in and around the area above your lips and just
below your nose. By the end of day one; I was convinced that I did not have one still bone or even the
tiniest bit of a still mind. The realization that I had zero control over my thoughts was harsh and
Third day of Soul tripping
By the third day; the stillness wasn’t as daunting. I was still restless however. Having never learnt to be
still physically and mentally, the practice of long hours of meditation felt like literally constructing a ten
feet high dike overnight in the middle of a gushing waterfall. With on one to communicate with, my
body and all its senses were getting attuned for the first time to ‘me’.
Meditation Retreat amid Soul tripping
I must include that with every passing day, the intensity of the meditation technique increased. The
fifth day was a watershed as for the first time, the full actual technique of Vipassana mediation was revealed to the students and we were encouraged to meditate for one complete hour at a stretch. It is
akin to asking someone to climb Mt.Everest. But by then, a curious realization hit me – that instead of
out rightly running away or just saying no to these insurmountable odds; my mind was slowly starting to
become pliable and interestingly, less afraid of challenges. The silence was now comforting and minus
the distractions; my inner voice had become surprisingly loud and clear.
A week into the meditation retreat; I started to feel a sense of wholeness. Although I was surrounded by
enforced silence; for the first time, I really felt the wonder of nature. The simple surroundings, zero
external noise, nourishing meals coupled with the intensive practice of Vipassana was having a
grounding effect on me like nothing else. The days were more intentional, acutely filled with a sense of
awareness of and gratitude for life.
As my Vipassana practice intensified; so did a deepening of my self-awareness. Looking outside;
capturing frames, the constant rush of competition and comparison leaves us with very little or rather
no time to be simply present and view the world around us objectively. We rush to interpret our world
often clouded with the filters of our experiences, entitlement and ego. Truth be realized, our time on
this planet is limited. Life beautiful as it is, is fragile, unpredictable like a water bubble. Delicate and
gone in a flash!
As with all things; my ten days of solitude and silence did come to an end. Where did I travel you may
ask, dear reader… as I look back at this journey inward, I can simply say – coming home to myself was
indeed a tough trek. Navigating the chaos of my mind needed my soul compass. Being present in my
body gave me acute sense of self-awareness and acceptance.
Was Soul tripping easy?
Was it worth it?
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.