6 Deep Experiential Truths I Learned From 90 Hours Of Meditation In 10 Days

What I learned from a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course.

Meditating for 90 minutes, changing your brain YONNA, ArtHouse Studio, Zffoto | Canva

Statistically, just 2–5% of us meditate— and for only 15–20 minutes a day.

Imagine meditating 30 times longer for 9 days straight — without devices, speaking, eye contact, books, or music.

That’s Vipassana — Buddha’s 2500-year-old meditation technique taught worldwide by S.N. Goenka Ji. The 9 days are so powerful that the 10th’s a shock-absorber — permission to speak + “only” 4.5 hours of meditation.


From 4:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., the routine is challenging — the only solace being nature walks, furry kittens, and humour-tinged discourses.

The first 3–4 days are a blur of screaming knees, backaches, and throbbing headaches. Then, as the physical pain subsides, the mental discomfort starts.

Repressed memories rear their heads. Deep-rooted insecurities float to the top. Your juiciest fantasies and nightmarish fears dance in loops.

For the first time in your life, you face your real self.

“Vipassana is a voluntary prison in which you perform open brain surgery on yourself, with no anaesthetic, for 10 days” — Goenka Ji’s Welcoming Words on Day 1

RELATED: How To Identify (And Live With!) The Truest, Most Authentic Version Of Yourself


But as a furnace tempers a sword, the pain purifies your mind — birthing breakthrough insights and awareness.

I want to share 6 such deep insights with you — plus 3 ways to experience and leverage each insight.

N.B. The best way to experience these insights remains Vipassana. With 160+ global centers and fortnightly courses, you can pick a convenient date and location.

These aren’t truths I’ve heard in Goenka ji’s discourses or intellectualized with the other students — these are truths I’ve experienced first-hand.

As Buddhism says, experiential wisdom (Bhavana-Maya Panya) is superior to intellectual wisdom (Chinta-Maya Panya) — which is superior to consumed wisdom (Suta-Maya Panya).


As powerful as Bhavana-Maya Panya is, this is my Bhavana-Maya Panya. 

Don’t accept these insights as true until you experience them:

1 . The great "I" illusion our ego creates

6 p.m. on Day 5. It was our first-ever Adhitthan — the unmoving 1-hour Sitting of Strong Determination.

20 minutes in, mild discomfort. 35 minutes in, pure discomfort. By the 50th-minute mark? Torture.

Piercing pain swam from knee to head. Perspiration drenched my forehead. With a deep breath, “God, grant me the strength to transcend my pain,” I exhaled.

Then, it happened.

Brute-forced by the pain, my mind turned so sharp I felt electrifying sensations all over my body.


An ecstatic grin broke my face — and the pain faded into the background.

It was a brief flash into surface Udayabayya — an advanced state where you become aware of the cellular death/birth all over your skin.

We all know our body is a canvas of dying/regenerating cells — but experiencing it drives home a comical insight.

Banding together, an army of atoms call themselves “Joe,” “Mary,” or “Neeramitra.” With further cohesion comes an “I” — which owns cars, property, and dollar stacks — all more atomic armies.

Even more pretentious? This illusory “I” hoards opinions, beliefs, status, and other ego security guards.


Whenever truth stems from within, the “I am/do X. I do/am not Y” identity rears its head — and we resist change.

We forget we’re already changing at an atomic level every nano-second!

Identity is necessary to navigate the physical world — but when it’s as rigid as concrete and/or dearer than our kidneys?

Growth screeches to a halt.

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Fluid identity. Have an identity, but be open to changing it as higher truths present themselves. As Bruce Lee said, “Be water, my friend. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.”
  • Detached identity. Instead of “I believe X,” say, “My current belief is X.” A shift from “I” to “mine” makes Identity your possession, not You.
  • Identity shock. Meet people and engage in activities that challenge your identity — be it approaching strangers, a martial arts bout, or a Vipassana course.

RELATED: Why You Need To Stop Letting The Voice In Your Head Get The Best Of You


2 . The Buddha’s simple way to overcome suffering

After 5 cushioned Adhitthans, I mustered the courage to do it cross-legged.

30 minutes in, Regret™. By 40 minutes, my knees burned in acidic pain, and pain jolts shot from my buttocks to the skies.

Swallowing deep gulps of oxygen. Burning the last dregs of willpower. Chanting affirmations. Brute-forcing pleasant memories — nothing worked.

“FINE. The pain’s there. Let’s see what it does.” I slumped motionless, like a vegetable.

Detached, I observed the pain with rapt attention — the hot powdery sensations in the knees and the heavy, throbbing ones jolting up from my butt.

Pain was a mass of ephemeral Rupa Kalapas (or elementary matter particles) — it’s our evolutionary “Seek pleasure. Avoid pain” wiring that makes pain Pain™.


This realization vaporized the pain — where teeth-grinding pain toleration failed, pain acceptance succeeded.

This is Yathathatha— seeing and accepting reality as it is, not how you want it to be.

  • Seeing verbal abuse as a reflection of the abuser’s negativity — not an invitation to retaliate.
  • Seeing a breakup as a lack of compatibility — not a self-esteem hit.
  • Seeing death as the cessation of biological life — not a soul-eating fear.

It’s our biased mind that turns molehills of discomfort into mountains of suffering.

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality” — Seneca

We worsen this by resisting, denying, or (trying to) flee reality — only for it to lash back stronger.


Yathathath eliminates illusory suffering and brings us to the side of reality.

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Practicing Voluntary Discomfort — be it a 20-rep squat, a cold shower, or Adhitthan, this Stoic practice builds detachment and anti-fragility.
  • The Witness Mindset — when unpleasant emotions/sensations arise examine from outside. Detached. Equanimous. Calm. Observe, don’t react.
  • Recalling Anitya or “This too shall pass.” Every sensation/moment dies, pleasant or unpleasant. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Everything is evanescent. Everything is changeful” — knowing this, the sage gives up both pleasure and pain and becomes a witness to this panorama (the universe) without attaching himself to anything.

RELATED: Suffering In Silence Isn't Heroic — It Can Actually End Your Marriage

3. Every day, week, or year isn’t a new beginning

Every moment is.


Every second, 3.8 million cells die/regenerate in our body — we’re partially reborn every moment. This is Anitya — our whole universe is in a blindingly rapid flux.

“Three thousand realms exist in a single moment of life.” — Nichiren Buddhism

Experiencing the truth of this cliche converts it into an invaluable gem.

Perspiration. Tingling. Pain. Itching. Heat— every sensation fades. With every passing hour of Vipassana, you internalize Anitya.


In life or meditation, the tables can (and will) turn at any moment. A great moment isn’t an excuse to slack — nor is a bad one a reason to poison the next moment.

So, when we feel low, mess up, or procrastinate — the next moment, we can choose to snap back into action.

“We’re partially reborn every moment.” — Akshad Singi

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Breath Regulation. When anxious, afraid, or agitated, our breathing turns shallow. Breathe deep into your belly to resurface calm awareness. Ujjayi, box breathing, and 4–7–8 breathing greatly help.
  • Present-Anchoring. Be it a fluttering leaf, a barking mongrel, or a passing vehicle, observe the present. Anchor yourself back to Nowness.
  • The Partial-Rebirth Analogy. Every second, you’re 3.8 million cells different. Every such partial rebirth is a chance to birth new actions and thoughts.

RELATED: 3 Steps To Turning Unexpected Setbacks Into New Beginnings

4. Most of our limits are self-imposed

Mopping the Pagoda floor, “How am I even functioning?” I wondered.

One night of sleeping under 7 hours would leave me a zombie. But despite 10 nights of 4–5 hours of sleep — here I was, scouring and chattering away with zeal.

After 2 fretful nights, I doubted my “I can’t function unless I sleep 8 hours” belief. By day 5, the belief began crumbling — by day 10, it had vaporized.


The long meditation hours undoubtedly helped. But it was the decaying “nocebo” (or negative placebo) that truly kept me energetic.

N.B. I’m not promoting sleep deprivation — it has disastrous (mental) health effects. This example is solely to illustrate Nocebo. Sleep like it’s your job.

Nocebo is so powerful that in one study, all 13 subjects got rashes to a harmless leaf — just because they were told it was poison ivy. Ever notice how you start feeling (mild) symptoms after googling them?

But adult life is nocebo on steroids! Thanks to societal/parental conditioning, crab-minded peers, and manipulative mass media.

Underestimating our mind and body, we let our self-imposed limits become self-fulfilling prophecies.


Just by believing we can’t achieve something, we don’t achieve it.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right” — Henry Ford

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Limits Testing. Whether PRing in the gym or signing up for a fight, test your limits to see if they’re true. Often, you’ll break past them.
  • Source Examination. When did the limit first arise? Did (or does) it have solid evidence? Where did it come from? Most of my (false) limits came from bullying and my father’s abandonment.
  • Weekly Limit Breaking. Once a week, pick and shatter a self-imposed limit. As your confidence rises, so does the ease of breaking limits. The final result? David Goggins.

RELATED: Stop And Realize Your Limit With People Before You Burn Out


5. The only source of truth you can 100% trust

Our reality is mere perception — the output our ego-stained brains spit out after chewing the inputs from our 5 senses.

So, our individual reality is as unique as our DNA. Hence, we can’t take others’ advice and insights as the Gospel — it’s only guidance and inspiration.

Even if someone could read your mind — their mind would still filter your reality through its lenses. It’s like stacking blue glasses atop yellow — you get green.

No other human can 100% understand you or your reality.

As scary as that is, nature gave us a solution.

A trustworthy guide within — call it conscience, God, inner voice, or first-hand experience. As Goenka ji says,


“Don’t trust something because Buddha said so. Or Christ said so. Or Krishna said so. It’s their enlightened truth, not yours. Nothing is true for you until you experience it.

…Only Truth from within can change us — otherwise, we play emotional, philosophical, or intellectual games.”

I knew killing was wrong. I even witnessed goat/buffalo slaughters early on. But until a 2-minute incident snapped the Truth from within, I didn’t quit meat.

N.B. Not eating meat is a personal choice and My Truth. Morals are subjective, contextual, and consciousness-based. Honor your Truth, not mine.

In Vipassana, I was initially skeptical of the Rupa Kalapa atomic theory. But when I noticed my Addhithan pain sensations exhibit the pathavī, āpo, tejo, and vāyo aspects?


The waves of Truth drowned the skepticism.

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Develop Bhavana-Maya Panya — respect the insights you glean from reading, watching, and listening. But don’t accept them as true until you experience them.
  • Don’t Force Your Truth upon Others — since I quit meat, I haven’t coerced or even advised a single person to do the same. Respect others’ truths as you would your own. Live and let live.
  • Live Your Truth Fearlessly — once you experience something as true, stick to your guns. Truth is God. Honor your Truth and align your life with it — even (and especially) if it’s hard.

RELATED: 5 Common Reasons He's Not Telling You The Truth


6. Human judgements are laughably wrong

Passing glimpses of strangers and close quarters with friends and family. That’s the norm.

But Vipassana was unique — 10 days of close, no-contact quarters with strangers.

I watched these strangers yawn, eat, and pick their noses. I watched them limping in silent post-Adhitthan pain. I watched them watch me in the same mute way.

In my head, I knew them — crafting nicknames, personalities, and likes/dislikes for each.

When silence broke on Day 10, we embraced each other like post-war soldiers — and realized how wrong our judgments were.

I had mistaken personas for persons — as we all do in real life.


The Scaries were genteel. The Unfit were ex-athletes recovering from injuries. The Ruffians were cultured men of class. The Les Misérables were forces of positive exuberance.

From pre-school teachings to Instagram quotes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a persistent cliche.

But never before had I experienced its truth to this level.

3 ways to experience and leverage this insight:

  • Pebble Observation: Observe strangers, passersby, and daily life as you would a pebble — with no judgment. Notice details, but don’t slap a label.
  • The Zero-Opinion-Till-Contact Rule. Doesn’t matter what Sally or Joe say about someone. Have no opinion until you meet them, flesh and blood.
  • Give People the Benefit of The Doubt. No one is as good or bad as we believe. Give people the benefit of the doubt — allow your opinion to mature over months and years of knowing them.

RELATED: 10 Simple Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Being Judged By Others


Vipassana was life-changing — the 1st step on a beautiful path towards liberation.

No miracles. No blind-belief. No mysticism. As Goenka ji repeatedly emphasizes, Vipassana burns down to only 2 things:

Yatha Thatha — Seeing and accepting reality as it is, not how you want it to be.
Bhavana-Maya Panya — accepting nothing as true until you experience it.

With worldwide centers and non-sectarian practicality, Vipassana is perfect for everyone — atheist or religious. Old or young. Poor or rich.

“Vipassana is less like a religion and more like an exercise routine. An exercise routine targeted towards your mind.” — Dalan Mendonca

Did I mention every Vipassana course is 100% free? Lodging. Food. Meditation facilities. All free. Only when you complete the course are you even allowed to donate!


As Goenka ji says, “Charging money causes entitlement. By keeping it free, there’s a sense of gratitude — towards the charity of past students.”

In a world of woo-woo spirituality, Vipassana stands tall in its untainted glory.

Find your nearest Vipassana center. Register 2–3 months in advance (the demand is bonkers). Experience the 10-day wonder for yourself… And spread the magic by penning it down like I just did.

“Vipassana is not an escape from reality. It is getting in touch with reality. Without the focus and clarity provided by this practice, I could not have written Sapiens and Homo Deus.” — Yuval Noah Harari, Tribe Of Mentors

RELATED: This Simple Activity Will Rebuild Your Entire Brain Structure In Just 8 Weeks


Neeramitra Reddy is a 12x Medium Top Writer, Chief Editor/Columnist for In Fitness And In Health (IFAIH), and a Columnist for Wholistique.