It has been almost 2 weeks now since I returned to Oakland from 10 days at a Vipassana retreat in the desert. I am still processing what it all means and how to fit it into my life.

But so far here is what I learned at Vipassana that can apply to Ayurveda:

  • Oil an absolute necessity. Do abhyunga  (oil massage) at home or have it done for you often (and eat a lot of good fats and oils in cold dry weather).
  • Silence is an absolutely necessary. Removing the busyness of day to day life from the playpen of the mind  makes creative space to explore the nature of yourself. I can't say I was always thrilled with what I found out about myself. But I would not trade that awareness for anything.
  • Senses: Understanding the messages that your body is sending requires practice and focus. 10 days was only the start of deeply experiencing the actual physical sensations of my body (stripped of imagination, desires & aversions). This skill is key to all holistic health practices and needed to navigate the needs of your body. Furthermore the body is the exit door from the mind. How to quiet the infernal chatter that interrupts sensible action, keeps us up at night, stresses us out, and gets in the way of really experiencing life? Tune into the sensations of your body regularly. Just feel.
  •  Simplicity: We tell ourselves all sorts of stories about what we need. But what we really need is quite simple: warmth, a little food, affection. Life is not that complex and the simpler it is the richer it is as we are less likely to miss the important stuff.
  • Stale food is really bad for the digestion. I know everyone who reads this already knows. Food that is not freshly cooked is poisonous. Especially if you are doing nothing but sitting all day. I don't want to scare anyone off Vipassana; many people have said that they had good food on the retreat. I think it was a lesson in food humility for me...
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