Everything that stops you from having a happy life


Recently, I had one of the most challenging experiences of my life. It’s been 25 days, 9 hours, and maybe 12 minutes since I returned from a meditation retreat. You might look at me and think “Wow, how exaggerated! Of course, it was one of the MOST difficult things this girl has done in her life, she hasn’t even had her period yet.” But I guarantee you, as a typical member of the Millennial generation, spending 10 days without a cell phone, in complete silence, with just the company of my mind… It wasn’t easy.

There were moments when it was fun: Now I didn’t have to mince social words with anyone. Or have to make my own food. I had every day free to myself and like magic…

All I wanted to do was leave.

The first day was cool. In the second one too, I was learning to accept the thoughts that came, and just let them go. On the third day, my back started to hurt. As I meditated all I could think was “Why does everyone in this blessed room have a meditation chair and I don’t?”

Then my head was throbbing too. There was a fun day, I saw a table with some colorful mushrooms and I started walking through the forest looking for more mushrooms. It was my only means of communication: I telepathically sent messages to whoever had started that beautiful art.

Every day I woke up at 6 am, (supposedly to wake up at 4 am, so I woke up full of guilt), and meditated. I went to the breakfast area, and then to the meditation area. After the meditation was over, I would go to my room… meditate more. Although meditating in the room made me face my own indiscipline, meditating in the meditation room was even better: The northern California winter caused many students to get the flu, alternating coughs almost like an organized choir. At the end of the day, all students had to watch a video from 1990 with an Indian man with a strong accent talking about how important it was to stop cravings and be happy.

Of course, you talk about happiness, my friend. You’re the only person on this entire retreat who doesn’t stop talking.

My only company was my own mind, which no matter how much I tried to focus on my breathing, insisted on bringing back painful memories of the past.

“Teacher, I can’t concentrate.”

“This is normal, just keep trying and every time you notice that your mind has brought up new emotions, come back to focus.”

And so I continued doing until my mind caught up with me. I was in tears for a long time, just focusing on the victory that consistently would defeat my worst enemy.

“Teacher, my thoughts keep invading my mind. My head hurts, my spine hurts, and my heart hurts too.”

And then she said to me, with affection as if she were my mother:

“Barbara, there will be moments in your life when undesirable situations will happen, and this can last for years and years. It’s a certainty that affects us all. And the only thing you can control is whether or not it will affect your state of mind.”

So I persisted.

Day 6 was the most difficult. 7 was contemplation. The 8th was almost a 9th, and the 9th was infinite. Day 10… was almost over, but it was my last chance to truly meditate.


And then the best day of the retreat arrived… The day I took the first step towards overcoming my own mind. I finally understood how India managed to take its independence back from England without doing ANYTHING. And being completely all things.

A wave of endorphins came to me that I had never felt so intensely. A natural wave of pleasure that came to me because I deserved it. My tongue moved again, and my mouth opened and closed to share my experience with the new speakers.

I felt proud. I won 10 days of internal battle against myself. And I didn’t tell anyone this, not so soon.




Valuable lessons that the Vipassana Meditation retreat taught me:


– Your mind will bring you thoughts and emotions all the time, without your proper formal invitation. But your body only moves because you let it happen.


– Bad things happened to me in the past. My body knows this. I choose to do it differently.

– Cravings: everything you want is because you don’t have it. Everything you already have is everything you need. (In other words: Don’t smile back at the pretty boy who tried to distract you the entire last few days of the retreat, because when he can talk again, he’ll tell you that he left a note with a phone number under your meditation mat: His friend’s number.)




–  Discipline hurts. But no more than the lack of it.

– The other people are also almost freaking out because they are silent, and even so, almost everyone has finished the tenth day.

– This was a completely free retreat in a country known for its consumerism. Good quality food and drink were generously offered to me. All the service and accommodation that was offered to me was provided by people who have already benefited from this retreat, which was also generously offered to them:

Many good things can happen to you through propaganda, but those that can bring true meaning to your life come to you are the ones that you only got because you wanted it, you looked for it, and you gave it a chance.



How easy it was not to use social media after this retreat.

As I had access to real quality food: foods with seeds, raw salads, protein from the combination of cereals and oilseeds… I believe I will be able to cook more at home!



Today marks 25 days, 12 hours, and a few minutes since I went through one of the most challenging situations of my life:

The meeting with myself.

As the little Burmese-Indian gentleman in the video always said at the end of every class:


Be happy!