I just spent an amazing ten days on a silent meditation retreat, Vipassana. It rates as one of the most valuable experiences of my life. But that is another story. What I wanted to write about today is the story that had me go there, to do something I had never done before, have me head off way out of the useful comfort zones.
I had been told about the course many times over the years by friends, but their stories put me off more than inspired me to go. It sounded confronting, challenging, something I might do one day, but I wasn’t compelled to go.
It was a story from my barber, a young fully creatively tattooed guy, who said he was going, wouldn’t drink and party for New Year, and he was keen because his Dad went. His Dad had been an army man, and the barber told me his dad came back from Vipassana and hugged him for the first time and has never been angry ever again.
That tipped the balance for me and I enrolled. It wasn’t the young guy’s intention to get me to go at all. It is the sharing of heart felt stories without an attachment to a forced outcome that are the most compelling and that lead to action. It ‘s also when something is unusual that it strikes you. Likewise the story I tell about being at Vipassana that people like most is not about the strings of benefits I got, or the routines and what happens in silence. But the story about my neighbour there, a man with a purple goatee beard, bald head, a biker, from Somerset in England, there getting over the grief of losing a daughter in a road accident. He was not typical of who you would expect to go to a silent meditation retreat. He got all he needed out of it, couldn’t wait to go home have a big meat fry up after ten days of vegetables. But his story sticks, because its real, its honest, its a bit unusual, and ultimately strikes a chord.