A Vipassana retreat is hard. Rules are quite strict for the duration of the course. No speaking, no access to your phone, no communication, gender segregation, no sexual activity, no physical exercise whatsoever except walking laps in the courtyard of the foundation, and not even access to any kind of reading material. The idea is to stay clear of any kind of distraction to focus the mind on meditation. While some rules were easy enough for me, I was expecting the no reading material to be the hardest. Turned out, after a few days what I was really craving for was physical exercise, like at least pull-ups or gym. But I did complete the course, though I still found it was difficult to concentrate even at the end.
All you do for 10 days is meditate following a Buddhist technique, punctuated by breakfast and lunch breaks (no dinner, it’s only a snack around 5pm). Meals provided are vegetarian, and it was generally easy enough for me to look for vegan and gluten-free options in what they served. My main interest in following this course was to try to learn to meditate in the best way possible, and I was also interested to see how I would feel after one week without having my mind distracted by any else than my own thoughts. I’m definitely glad I was able to have that experience, even though I found it pretty hard. Everyone has their own experience, and there is a lot to say about Vipassana, so if you are interested, check out this: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index .
After Vipassana, I ended back in Calgary. Want to know how?
After mailing ahead my climbing gear and some other things to a Warmshowers host ahead to travel lighter up some passes, leaving Squamish, on the way to Whistler, the rain started pouring. I stopped a bit before Whistler to admire the beautiful Brandywine Falls.
Leaving Vancouver I cycled to Horseshoe Bay again where I followed the Sea to Sky highway. Brendan had warned me that it could get quite busy and the noise of the cars could be quite overwhelming. I played music on my phone, but unfortunately without earbuds it was completely covered by the noise. At last I was excited to get to Squamish at the end of the day- which had been in my mind for a while.
As much as I was excited to cross into a new country, and to get to Canada for the first time in my life, I felt relieved to walk out of the ferry with my bicycle, arriving in Victoria. The boat motioning was making me slightly nauseous. I was later told this is one of the only BC ferries to go accross opean ocean- which explains the pitching.