What I learned at a 10 day meditation retreat

Constraints & protocol

  • Summer camp style accommodations with roommates; tent camping optional
  • Strict schedule, almost identical every day from 4:30 am to 9:30 pm
  • 5–11 hours of meditation, 1.5 hours of pre-recorded video discourse per day
  • 2 vegetarian meals at 6 am and 11 am, fruit and tea at 5 pm
  • No electronics or reading or writing material
  • No communication of any kind, including gesturing or eye contact
  • Gender segregation
  • No exercise, drugs, or religious rituals or objects

Learning curve

24 hours is a long time

Pain and the engineering mindset

Knowledge vs wisdom

  1. heard or read about
  2. gained by thinking, analyzing, pondering
  3. experienced

What meditation really is — conditioning, and implications for free will

A taste of real focus

The law of impermanence — how my opinions changed over time

Robobuddhism — kheer & cardamom story

Tranquilism vs Foodie-ism

Should you do it?

  • have a high tolerance for protracted pain eg., endurance athletes
  • are depressed or otherwise experiencing a type of pain that doesn’t respond to medication
  • feel out of control
  • are open-minded
  • read this post
  • want an inflection point in your life
  • how I felt suffering in a controlled environment, and how I was eventually able to overcome it
  • conclusions I came to about my life and my values that were only possible from extended, uninterrupted reflection
  • a sense that I didn’t and by extension don’t know myself as well as I thought, eg., my ability to quiet my mind
  • a new-to-me but 2500 year old model of how one should experience pleasure and pain, extending even to choosing what to eat on a daily basis
  • what it feels like to have strong focus and resulting sense of free will



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