The retreat went well, even though my body threw a revolt or two. The morning of day one was fine; by one o'clock I was feeling a bit queezy, and by three o'clock I puked my guts out. I laid in bed during the afternoon group sittings, and I may have gone home that evening were I not so weak. At 7:00 pm I was strong enough to attend the evening discourse and then hold myself upright for the final sitting. Before bed I took some travelers antibiotics and in the morning I was well enough to go on. Last time I did one of these, I got this dizzy, woozy feeling on the third day, and by the seventh it wore me down enough to send me home. This time I didn't get the dizzy feeling until day eight. I was sort of expecting it to come the whole time, and when it finally did I was too far along and too resolved to not let it bother me. I'm glad, because the feeling of finishing such a course is a rare one. It's not elation or excitement. You're happy to be sure, but it's a very calm, lucid happiness. In the middle of the retreat, everyone looked kind of like bewildered animals constantly being herded around. By the end, everyone was holding themselves up straight and confident with a vast, placid look in their eyes. Since I leaned how to speak, it was the longest time I've gone without speech. Midway through the tenth day noble silence was broken, and I was giddy and awkward with the novelty of communication.
I'd like to describe the mental experience of having to meditate for so long, but it's hard to sum it up. You learn things about yourself that you couldn't learn any other way. Again, I'd like to express what those things are, but there aren't proper words for them. I can say that I felt my body as mass of flowing energy, and experienced the constantly changing nature of the universe... see I told you there wasn't a clear way to describe what I felt. All I can do is recommend that everyone do this same retreat. There are centers around the world and you can find one at dhamma.org.
The Dhamma hall. That's my spot in the back left.
The walk to the dormitory
I had this cubicle all to myself!