This winter, my partner and I went to a quiet retreat center outside of Delhi, India. We sat in silence for seven days. Doing nothing. Saying nothing. Not reading. Not writing. Averting our gaze from others. Drawing inward.

Starting at 5:30 in the morning, we did five seated meditations a day (1 to 2 hours each), and three moving meditations (shaking, dancing or walking meditation). We dressed in the simplest clothes (including blindfolds during the sits), ate the simplest foods, and slept in simple spaces.  It was the hardest and most impactful practice I’ve ever done, hands down (and I didn’t even do it perfectly correctly).

This practice is called Vipassana. The word means insight into the true nature of reality. One advocate, Satya Goenka believes that of everyone practiced some form of Vipassana, we would have peace on earth.

Vipassana had two immediate impacts for me. First, it showed me how much of my energy is drained by constant interaction. By the fourth day, my creative and physical energy was higher than I’ve ever experienced it, and it kept climbing from there. The second impact was a direct and clear experience of how there are two minds present in us at all times: the chattering ego mind, and the deeper oversoul and witness who is watching it all, staying calm and centered and wise. While I’ve glimpsed that in regular meditation, this was a whole other order of magnitude. Furthermore, you can see that there’s a control switch between the two minds –and this switch can be flipped whenever you want, as an active choice- something that has been very fun to play with over the last few months.  Ego toying with you? Just flip to the soul channel, the other always present frequency.

This is the big takeaway, which really has to be experienced first hand to be known:  All the dramas that cause hostilities and separations are driven by the ego mind. The witness consciousness knows better. Witness consciousness, which we all possess, is where we are connected. It is the deeper wisdom that all individuals are all plugged into (to greater or lesser degrees, depending on level of awareness and practice).  It is the direct connection to what in other eras might be called god.

Goenka offers ten day Vipassana courses free of charge all over the world.  Osho offers seven or twenty-one day neo-Vipassana courses, called Silence Retreats.

Create the space to do this. It will be horrible and boring and you will confront your ego in ways you never have, and it will be liberating and amazing and freeing and delightful.