Vipassana Silent Retreat: A Journey Inwards YOUR True Self

Are you ready for true change?

Weaving mindfulness and spirituality into the fabric of Vipassana meditation is an amazing journey towards our true-self. On the Self-Care Goddess Podcast Episode #64, Pouya Iranitalab talks about his experience at a silent retreat and shares how his life became characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, peace and self-control after Vipassana, to an extent that he was able to endure surgery on his private parts without anesthesia!

This blog post summarizes just a few of the golden nuggets from our insightful conversation, for the full details listen to the entire episode here or on your favourite podcast platform by searching for the Self-Care Goddess podcast.

What Is The Vipassana Meditation Experience?

Vipassana is experiencing one’s own reality by the systematic and dispassionate observation within oneself of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensations. Vipassana aims at eradication of mental impurities and results in happiness & liberation. Pouya experienced the Vipassana way of self-transformation through disciplined attention to the breath with 10 days of silence at an introductory course retreat where the Vipassana technique is taught step-by-step each day.

In this podcast Pouya shares his own personal process and addiction recovery as he went through the different modalities of teaching to experience a deeper sense of who he is. The retreat is a beautiful center situated at different locations globally and there is immense respect for people who run these centers, because they don’t do anything other than meditation in these areas. The day of arrival is called day zero and after a little lunch and dinner you hand over all your belongings and give up addictions (any gadgets, books etc.). You’re given a flashlight and an alarm clock to find your way. Pouya says that they give you a clear set of rules and instructions to follow, which may seem a little cultish at first but you sign an agreement not to break the rules. At the retreat, group meditations are scheduled and there are free times when you can meditate wherever you like, which is different for new and old students. There is slot for guidance or talks by teachers, which is beautiful and sought after because people have been meditating in silence for hours and you’re delighted to hear voices after so much silence. All students attending the course observe a “noble silence”, which means silence of body, speech and mind.

I invite you to listen to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast episode #21, “How to Focus on What You Want to Happen Using NLP”, on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.

How to Prepare for the Retreat?

There is no preparation for the retreat. You just show up and go for the ride. Pouya aruges it’s like that fancy ride where you just sit there, put your seatbelt on and embark the ride together. However, if you’re going to any event, the more preparation we put into it, the more we’re going to get out of it. Pouya started a daily practice of 20 minutes of meditation and then increased it to focusing on the breath. He started a little bit of practice personally, because he really wanted to prepare himself. Also with food, it’s always best to try to eat clean diet in preparation for these types of retreats. Before the retreat it is recommended to start meditating, do intentional sitting and clear up your schedule giving time after the retreat for integration back to life. They have 10 interesting disciplines observed at the center:

1. Rising early.

2. Sexual mastery.

3. Silence throughout the day.

4. Get so much from nature.

5. Mental practices.

6. Movement.

7. Taking care of the body.

8. Connecting to vision, goals and our power.

9. Conscious eating.

10. Financially thinking.

For some people it’s best to not prepare because they may stop and create expectations. Pouya, advises to just go with your intuition and the natural flow of the process. I always do this before my plan medicine ceremonies, I don’t go much research because I want to be open to the experience and not have too many expectations for things that have happened to others. He assures you that it will end up being an amazing experience.

Check out the blog post of my amazing and truly inspiring conversation on episode #29, of the Self-Care Goddess podcast “How To Build YOUR Resilience For Better Mental Health”.

The Process of Insight Meditation

Pouya also shares with us his experience about the interesting practice of insight meditation. This is seeing reality as it is. The 2-step process is:

  1. Mindfulness: The first part of it is cultivating focus and attention. We develop our attention and ability to concentrate. Concentration is keeping attention focused in one place. Mindfulness is keeping awareness of all holistically – what’s going on in your experience.
  2. Develop Equanimity: Once the attention is fixed on one thing, equanimity is developed. When we are aware and accept reality as is without any resistance or craving.

We use this to investigate our body-mind phenomena under the microscope of mindfulness. Through this process of awareness by looking at ourselves, insights and purification occurs. This is the culmination of the teaching of self-purification by self-observation at the retreat. Pouya says that self-observation is developing greater intimacy with oneself. It shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer.  Previously we only looked outward, missing the inner truth. We always look outside for the cause of our unhappiness; blame and try to change the reality outside. Most of us are ignorant of the inner reality, we must understand that the cause of suffering lies within, in our own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations. The ultimate goal is liberation from the beliefs, ideas and ways of being that causes us suffering, and disconnects us from each other. For example, Pouya was in immense physical pain after sitting in meditation for so long. Initially, he felt his leg hurting so bad that he was capable of breaking things in the room due to his pain. But after a few days, he was able to sit for 2-3 hours and not react to pain anymore because he developed the mental resilience. Saying “my legs are hurting” is actually reacting to the pain sensation. When this pain becomes just an appearance /observation it will simply pass and become no pain. Sometimes, we can lose the awareness and start to react to the pain again, but as the meditations becomes deeper, we start to feel the peacefulness and transformation.

I invite you to listen to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast episode #42 “How to Build YOUR Confidence with Constructive Embarrassment” on Self-Care Goddess Podcast.

How To Integrate The Teachings Into Your Daily Life?

After the first retreat, Pouya was committed to keeping continuity of the practice experienced in the retreat. The recommendation is an hour in the morning and an hour at night of just sitting in silence and noticing your breath. This is very realistic and yet many people don’t follow through because it takes a serious commitment. However, the transformation happens when you bring this to your daily life. It is almost impossible for the first time to keep the practice unless you are really committed. In the last retreat Pouya wanted to keep his practice strong; so he made some friends and created a WhatsApp group and partnered with someone else who was doing this for years. To incorporate it into your daily routine, is the real miracle because we put this anchor of mindfulness in the morning and night or whenever time permits even at noon. Emotional triggers still occur. The miracle is not identifying with the reaction and being able to observe it as a nonreactive person. So now there is inner resilience as we are evolving and learning that triggers occur but there is much more subtlety to it.

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Here are this week’s self-care tips. For past podcast guests self-care habits, check out my Instagram or Facebook page.

Take Home Message

If you feel like intuitively in your soul, that a particular path is part of your journey, perhaps it may not be the path for the rest of your life but it could be a process of you reaching your next level then embark upon that road. Most often before we go through major shifts in consciousness, our old self wants to hold on. However, know that the love for truth and transformation towards our inner being is greater than any addiction that you may have. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in Vipassana, and silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity. We must surrender ourselves to this process to reap it amazing benefits. I can’t wait to go on one of these retreats.

Connect with Pouya | Instagram @ConnectToPI |

Listen to the full podcast episode #64 on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.

I look forward to connecting with you and learning more about your story and your health and wellness goals. Schedule a FREE introduction call here.