Vipassana…What is it All About?
Author and Interviewer: Lauren Patterson
Interviewee: Mai Thi Nhu Vu
Here at Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat I find it easy to see why so many people choose to stay long-term. The tranquility – despite the fact the retreat is based in the very heart of bustling Siem Reap – is instantly apparent. From the moment I arrived I felt an instant connection to the place and the people.
Through a series of blog posts I want to tell a story about the people I have met, and will continue to meet, during my stay. But first of all, I feel it’s important to say a little about my experience so far.
One thing I’ve found truly humbling is the openness of people to talk, often in ways that completely open up the person’s vulnerabilities for all to see. I know that’s been a real emotional hurdle for me during my first week here. One common thread, having spoken to teachers and clients alike, has come to the fore – this is a real process, an inner journey for want of a better phrase, and as a result it’s important to really feel those emotions – good, bad, at times a little unsettling – in order to gain the benefits.
I’ve found Blue Indigo to be an inclusive haven for anyone, experienced or not-so-much, wishing to foster a deeper connection with themselves, and in-turn, open up to others around them.
I’m enjoying immensely the camaraderie which is evident among my fellow guests. My mission writing about Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat has been to really get in touch with that communal energy. One week in, I guess it’s safe to say I was a little overwhelmed by my own emotions. I chose to take a step back from the group sessions for a little quiet self-reflection. Coming out of the other side over these past few days, I feel energised and ready to take on my Yoga and Meditation journey with a new sense of calm and intrigue.
Having bonded with fellow guests It’s been very clear to me that this has been a recurring experience for many of us in our initial few days – whether experienced practitioners, or slight ‘rookies’ like me. It’s been cathartic and a much needed reflective experience, one which I am excited to build on over the coming month.
Anyway, that’s enough about my personal experience for today. It’s time to speak to some of the wonderful contributors at Blue Indigo about what initially brought them here and what they feel they are gaining from this experience.
First on the list, I’d like to introduce the lovely Mai….
Mai came to Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat one month ago as a Yoga Teacher. Originally from Belgium, Mai has spent many years living in the Caribbean, as well as travelling across Asia. Mai is a qualified Yoga Teacher and Massage Therapist. I wanted to get a little background as to why she came here to Blue Indigo, where she was in her life and ultimately where she sees her future heading… pretty deep, I know 🙂
Which is why our initially planned 5 minute chat became almost 1.5 hours!!! There was a lot to talk about, and we had a lot in common. I can’t include our entire conversation in this one blog post – that would be more like an essay than the punchy blog I intended, but my aim as a Writer is to put across her experiences as best I can. For the purposes of this particular post I wanted to find out more about Mai’s experience with silent retreats, or to give them their correct name – Vipassana.
L – So, Mai. The obvious first question I’d like to ask you is what brought you here to Blue Indigo?
M – I ended up here in a gap between seeing friends and my future plans in India. India is the destination I’m choosing to continue my learning process with regards to Yoga , Meditation and Massage practice. My travel experience this year has been dedicated to learning and developing my skills and experience. It has been as much about Yoga practice as it has learning about myself. It’s been a life changing process … my third one actually.
When I first arrived here I met a fellow Yoga Teacher with whom I felt a strong connection. From that moment on I knew, without a doubt, I was coming back to Cambodia for what is called a Vipassana Retreat.
L- Can you explain a little about what Vipassana is, for me and for anyone who may not be familiar with the term?
M – Vipassana is a meditation process practiced across the world. For me it is the purest and the simplest process you can have in meditation. Vipassana is a silent, 10 day mediation retreat. During the process you have no choice but to acknowledge what comes up – emotions and physical aspects too. It’s a way to fully connect with yourself and others but without the usual social contact – speaking, eye contact, etc. There is also no reading, no social media to distract you from the process. It’s intense and life altering.
L – So, what happens during the Vipassana?
M – Vipassana consists of 10 hours per day, pure meditation. Its short-cut to what Yoga can bring you. It’s a truly beautiful experience. I’ve done it twice now and aim to do it every year from now on.
L – That sounds like a wonderful experience. Can you tell me a little about your first Vipassana?
M – My first experience of Vipassana was all my past coming to the fore. You have to be ready to ride the experience. You know when you are ready, I think, it will be almost a natural calling. Something you have to do. I was ready, I knew that but I still had parts of my past I didn’t want to acknowledge. I pushed them back and forgot about them. The Vipassana process brings those memories and emotions to the fore, forcing you to see them and process the feelings. It’s cathartic. It’s difficult. But it’s essential in moving on.
I was ready for it. Prior to my first Vipassana I practiced six weeks of Yoga so I was in that mood, I was in that spiritual place where I knew it was the right time.
L – And how about your second experience? Did you find it was different the second time around?
M – The second time was harder for me. I had friends coming to visit, It was more of a vacation in Asia for us all so going in to Vipassana straight after they left was difficult. I didn’t have the wind-down I had with the Yoga before my first Silent retreat. I was thinking a lot about my future, being anxious about where I was going so there was a certain cloud of anxiety which was blocking me. With the past, you accept it and let it go. With the future, you can’t do that because you simply don’t know what will happen.
When I decided to travel, I left my work. I left my business. Who knows what the future holds. I was scared to have no security anymore. You choose to leave it all behind for something you don’t know. That’s always going to be scary. But at the same time you also realise, you know deep within yourself, this is for a reason so you do it, and you certainly don’t regret it for a moment.
Yoga and Meditation are a calling. You follow where they lead 🙂
Mai, this was wonderful to hear. I’m looking forward to writing more about your experience. Thank you for your time and for being so very open during our conversation. I wish you so much luck in all your future endeavours.
I hope this blog has been of interest to anyone, experienced or new to yoga and meditation. Whatever your personal goals we hope that you can benefit from a stay with us at Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat in the future. We would welcome you with open arms!
Thanks for reading, and thank you Mai for your knowledge and sharing.