This journal is all about sharing part of my spiritual journey. It is my filter-free world, and this is dedicated to my family and friends who supported and guided me into a lot of my quests to discover more about the life.
I’m a student who is practicing/learning the technique of Vipassana and this article is my experience as a learner. So if you find any error or fault in my explanation, kindly inform me. 🙏🏻
Special thanks and congratulations to Shallu, Shikhar, Bhavya, Tarang who completed their 1st 10 day Vipassana experience. I sincerely hope that they complete their 2nd course soon to see the compounded benefit of this practice.
Are you a theist or an atheist?
Well, I don’t believe in God, and I used to say that because I felt it made me look cool.
I was born religious. Not by choice but by birth.
I always felt that I’m surrounded by an unexplained force that always guided me and still guiding me on how to navigate the world.
However, this story is not about religion or god or anything that will make you or anyone uncomfortable.
This is a true story of my journey to an unknown dimension that I never ever knew existed until I turned 27. After this discovery, I’m surprised to see how my life unfolded, and it’s been more than 7 years now, and I’m sharing this untold part of my journey. This section of my life is not for everyone but for those who ever asked some big questions like:
– What is the meaning of life?
– Why do we suffer pain, and how to let go of pain?
– How to live every day like it’s your first or last?
– How to leave fear, anxiety behind and find your true self?
And this story is also for someone who is
– Tired of repeatedly doing the same thing every day.
– Tired of being stuck and want to move on…
Before we move ahead, let me tell you that a certain part of this story is written in raw form.
You need to be patient and when you get distracted, focus on what you are seeing and read every word from your heart. Every word will reveal a new meaning to you. Have patience and faith.
Adding a disclaimer was important, and now let me take you to the time where this all started.
It was the summer of ’86 when I was born in a Hindu family. The fun part of being a Hindu is, one can learn the concept of god and rituals from the very day he/she is born. It’s not a choice but it’s how life in a Hindu family is.
I always had a curious and inquisitive mind, and I like to know the reason behind everything that is happening. I like to ask questions and I don’t rest unless I don’t find a logical answer behind it. It was my mother who I always found on the other side of the fence and trying to answer my endless questions one after another. I always find her to be a genius because her every answer was either logical or laced with the sweetness of morality.
Later on, when I touched the stairs of adolescence, I kind of got busy with life. School is a fascinating place because not only do we learn in class, it’s more about what we learn outside the class.
The school kept me busy, and I started asking questions like:
– Why are we all divided?
– Why do Hindus only go to the temple?
– Why do Muslims go only to the mosque?
– Why does the Church exist?
It didn’t take me long enough to see the ancient wisdom behind most of the things.
For example, when a Muslim offers prayers (Sarah), they end up doing a lot of exercise.
A Hindu usually has to climb a mountain for prayers, which has direct health benefits of trekking. Fasting on special days (done by almost all religions) has significant health benefits.
Well, lately my belief in god started fading, and I moved from a small town to “New Delhi,” the capital city of India, for high school. It was only once or twice a year when I used to visit my hometown and the temple. I really loved myself when I used to go to the temple as that’s the time when my thinking was pure.
I usually pray for bringing goodness into every human life. Instead of getting stuck in mindless chatter, I simply pray, and the thoughts are usually positive (for me and also for others). Whenever I’m inside the temple, it felt like there is a cool breeze inside me.
In a few years, life got me again, and this time I became a computer engineer. Whenever I used to get time, I used to thank a few Deities (Gods), usually before sleeping for giving me a good life and always prayed for the well-being of all human beings. I do believe the only way I could do well in life is when people around me do well.
It was the summer of 2009 when my life took the most unexpected turn. I met with a severe accident, and for the first time in my life, I felt so helpless. This accident had a significant impact on my life, as it changed the complete course of my journey.
Usually, it’s a major event like an incident, death, birth that changes the course of someone’s life to an extent that is beyond our control.
It’s the pain that opens the heart more and lets us see the true form of life.
This incident made me realize that I don’t have any control over my life and any day the whole life could turn upside down. There will be no reminder on calendar notification or phone call when that happens. Life is so unexpected, and that became one of my life Northstar.
My faith in a power beyond my understanding remained there, but I got more curious to understand more dimensions of this life.
Six years passed by, and my life got completely changed. From being a small-town boy with a big dream, I became one of the most successful and celebrated bloggers of my country.
Fame, money, and everything was coming to me, and I was living the life that most of us usually dreamed of. Everything happened too fast, then I could understand and make sense out of everything.
It was 2015, and I was in the midst of the biggest mental depression of my life due to loneliness and my lifestyle.
My best creation of all time “ShoutMeLoud” was touching the lives of millions, I was reaching new heights every day, and ShoutMeLoud was the #1 website in its niche for multiple years, I was married to a beautiful women, I purchased my own house, and everything seems to be going well, yet there was a feeling of incompleteness.
I always felt that life can’t be only this. “work, family, make money, travel, reproduce, and die.” It sounded so purposeless to me. I was longing for more and the curiosity inside me was growing.
I could see that I was becoming part of a rat-race which has no end. One milestone after another, and there is hardly any joy.
I could see that the way I was living the life, it will never stop. I could literally write my next 10-20 years of life story in a diary.
My life has become predictable, and even though my work had a purpose, personally I was feeling restless. Usually a longing question makes me restless till the time I don’t find an answer or I’m on the right direction to find the answer.
My next few years were sorted in terms of business, family, and I was ready to live a grand life. I was “Selectively confused”, that was my state of mind.
The Unexpected Encounter: September 2015
While I was seeking an answer for “What’s next”?
Something unexpected happened. To break the monotony of my journey, I decided to attend a bloggers meet happening in Mumbai.
Before this event, for the last 2 years, I attended most of the events as a speaker.
This was the first event in the past 2 years that I wanted to attend as a student.
As someone who I was, a learner for life. What happened at the event turned out to be the best decision of my life.
It was the last day of the event, when ‘Archana’ found me at the event and said hi to me. She told me how her husband (Desh Kapoor) is a reader of my blog and how much he loves ShoutMeLoud.
There was something remarkable about her. The warmth and love that I felt while talking to her in those few minutes felt like something I never experienced in my life before or probably something I have been longing to feel. Now I think it’s her positive vibrations, but more on it later.
She also invited me to visit them in Atlanta if I ever visit the USA. Going to the USA was not something I ever imagined or thought of.
Note: I ended up visiting USA in January 2016, and also stayed with these two beautiful people in Atlanta for 1-2 days. Here is a picture from this memorable trip.
We parted after exchanging numbers, and the energy that Archana passed on to me unknowingly in those few minutes of conversation was about to change my life.
Just a day before, I was club hopping with Jeff Bullas, and it was 7.30 PM, and I was getting ready to hit the club again. Just before leaving, out of curiosity, I opened Desh’s blog – DrishtiKone.
The next time I checked my watch, it was 11.30 PM. For the past 4 hours, I was busy reading his blog.
Almost 20+ tabs were opened, and I was watching a video of a spiritual guy called “Sadhguru” who looked no different than any other gurus that we see or hear about. I was hooked to Desh’s blog, and I can’t thank him enough for introducing me to the scientific explanation of spirituality.
In India we used to have a TV broadcast channel called “Sadhna TV” and I believe it still exists, and I remember seeing my grandmother hooked to all the talks and I straight away dismissed all this thinking that it’s for old age and just a money making scheme. With the commercialization of spirituality and god, this is true to a larger extent.
Anyways, more on this aspect some other day, and let me get back to the journey in sequential form.
So from Desh’s website, I discovered about Godman called “Sadhguru” and it was the first time ever that a few of the aspects of god, prayers, and temple made sense to me.
Things seemed logical.
I did follow many of his content in the initial days and attended one of the discourses. However, it felt like a cult, and eventually, I started looking elsewhere. I also bumped into this video recently made by a critique, and I do suggest to watch this.
However, I was hooked because most of his videos sounded logical to me. His views on topics like
- Why people go to temple
- Architect and science behind prayers
- How not to be worried,
- Quitting any addiction
- Living a peaceful life
made me speechless.
In those few hours, I learned the most important difference between Spirituality and Religion.
Before this, both (Religion and Spirituality) used to be the same thing, but that night in the hotel room of a 5-star hotel, I got the clarity about something that was about to change my life forever.
That night I hardly slept, and the next day I flew back to Delhi. That trip has changed something about me, and for the next 1-2 weeks, I was spending a minimum of 1 hour of time watching and reading about Spirituality. It was mostly “Sadhguru” videos that were giving me guidance, and I was slowly drifting into the world of spirituality.
I ordered my first-ever spiritual book, and I’m not wrong – it was “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Alan Singer. I could not have picked a better starter book than this.
After that, it was a marathon of spiritual books.
– The Power of Now
– The Untethered Soul
– The Autobiography of Yogi
– Tao Te Ching
And many more…
Intellectually I was stimulated, and I was ready for more.
After reading all these books, I realized – I need to practice meditation and yoga to further proceed on this path of spiritual awakening.
Note: I’m in no manner recommending Sadhguru or any other godman. I feel that anyone who truly is spiritual, may not discrimnate people based on caste, religion, sex or anything.
My first Unfinished Vipassana experience – Kanpur (20th March 2016)
Read more about Vipassana meditation here.
My first real encounter happened in 2016 when I discovered about Vipassana in one of the spiritual books and researched more about it on Quora. I was beyond fascinated when I realized something like Vipassana does exist in the world that we live in. I straight away enrolled for the next available course which was in Kanpur, and attended my first-ever Vipassana course.
My first experience was brutal, as by the second day, my physical body and mind were super tired. I could not sleep and could see my entire life running ahead of me. I could not figure out what was happening to me, and sitting 10 hours cross-legged, meditating while maintaining noble silence, and the entire environment was way too much for me. I thought Vipassana meditation was nothing like what we do as guided YouTube meditation. It was nothing as I imagined and by the 6th day, I gave up. I got out on the 7th
It was a complete disaster for me and I moved ahead with my journey. However, my life started changing and it was changing for good. I believe those 5-6 days of meditation (which was more like an introspection) made me realise many things which I would not have realised otherwise.
I was yearning to go back and deep down I was slowly getting ready . I was preparing myself for next sitting, and I got this opportunity in the September of 2017.
2nd Vipassana retreat – Jodhpur chapter (30th August 2017)
It was after a year and half that I got this opportunity to attempt for next Vipassana camp. This time it was Jodhpur, and I arrived there was strong determination to complete the entire 10th day this time.
This young dude is Daniel from Spain who was travelling India and I believe his couch-surfing host told him about Vipassana, and he joined and completed one. This picture was taken just after we got out of completing our 10 day retreat.
It’s been more than 6 years that I have completed my first 10 day retreat, and honestly I can’t put my fingers on what has changed. But deep down I knew that something has changed for me. FOREVER!
Post the completion of Jodhpur chapter, I started attending one day camp every year.
- 3rd 10 day Retreat – Pushkar ( Feb 2019)
- 4th 10 day Retreat – Pushkar ( August 2020)
- 5th 10 day retreat – Pushkar (June 2021)
- 6th 10 day Retreat – Pushkar (March 2022)
Photo (above) from Vipassana February 2019 (Pushkar) and video (below) after the retreat:
What I could notice is, every 10 day camp started changing something inside me for good. I was becoming free from a lot of my vices, and useless deceptions created by others for their profit and ill will.
Pushkar 2021. Photo with assistant teacher “Subhash Sethi ji.”
When we slow down, the truth and reality reveals itself ( don’t want to sound dramatic and don’t want to over simplify this as well), but after every Vipassana camp, my life changed drastically in 3-6 months. Mostly for good, aside from one time when I felt I was stuck in somewhere, and it took my months to got out of that mindset.
Anyways, I was definitely living a better life. I was doing things that I could have never imagined in my wildest of dreams.
I believe these 10 days of silent meditation, is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Tip: Once you complete one 10 day Vipassana retreat (Dhamma.org), you can always go for one day and three day refresher course. I highly recommend to try going for at least 1 three day refresher course every quarter, as this improves your practice by a greater extent.
Tip 2: Attempt for regular practice but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be regular. Make effort and continue to do so.
Top 3: Albert Einstein said “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”. And, this is true for Vipassana meditation as well. Every year when I go, I could feel that past experiences are not in vain, and helped me to go deeper in my practice. (Deeper in the sense that I could stay in Samatha for longer period).
I still have a few vices, and as a practicing student I don’t have that kind of wisdom to share much. But, I do think I’m a pretty intelligent being, and I go back to Vipassana every year because deep down I’m getting immense benefit from it. As I learn more and I have maturity to share my insights objectively, I would do the same here.
I would definitely love to chat more about it if we ever meet at a conference or a cafe or even online.
I’m not advocating anything here, and my purpose here is to share my experience, and share everything I do that has helped me to become a better person. This is how I could contribute my bit to make this world a better place.
I look forward to hearing your experiences and journey in the comment section below. 🙏🏻