Vipassana retreat - A life changing experience with Clément Desplats
Updated: May 7, 2019
On this interview with Clément we dive right into the 10 day Vipassana retreat experience. He talks about how the whole experience unfolded for him, how he felt and what he witnessed during the experience.
So, come on and watch the video below:
We’re here with Clements, the one and only. He's gonna tell us a little bit about the big experience that he had in Vipassana and also some other things. How did you decide to go on this 10 day retreat?
I… I heard about it from entrepreneurs. I follow an entrepreneur called Louie, who is a French entrepreneur in San Francisco, so I follow him on social media (actually my brother was following him and then he told me about him) and he talked about vipassana and my brother told me about vipassana, they wanted to do it. And then I met people that told me: “I did vipassana it was, like, an amazing experience!”
So I got some information about it. I started to get interested in it. and then I realized it was 10 days of silence… That you couldn't even look at people, in their eyes… That's hard! But… what I thought about vipassana… like, when I signed up for the vipassana, I didn't know half of what was going on in vipassana, so I discovered half of this stuff when I was there. I just knew that it was ten days. That I would be out of this room in ten days. And then the fact that I was quitting my job, and that I was, like, all night I had a lot of free time. This was the moment to do it. If I wasn't doing it, like, right now, I would never never…
Jofy: ..never do it!
Clement: yeah! It was like the perfect moments, so I had just.. had to do it.
Jofy: And how is the process? You got there, like, you received some instructions, like, that you need to be silent?
Yeah. Basically when you sign up, you have like this email, saying basic stuff, like, yeah, you will be not able to talk for ten days, you’ll arrive on this day…
And so you arrive, you are welcomed there, people are nice, you can talk, no problem, you arrange everything. They take your stuff- they take your phone, every writing instrument,
notebooks, because you're not allowed to write anything.
Jofy: You cannot escape
Yeah! Like, every electronic stuff, mp3 players, all that stuff, that's not aloud. So you give it at the beginning of the experience and… and you can still connect with people: you share a cup of tea and you're connecting a bit with people, but you know that by 8:00 p.m. after the first group meditation, you have to remain silent for 10 days.
And yeah that's how it starts. They just give you a planning that is displayed on the main hall and every morning you just see the planning. Which is basically almost the same every day…
Jofy: meditate, meditate!
But you just want to read something because you don't communicate with people, so every morning is like: “Let's see what is up today!” But it's the same! You want to read some stuff!
Awesome! So yeah, tell me about the experience, like, first day, second day, third day, like, how was it different from one day to the other? Like, did you feel, like, different levels of awareness? Did you start to mindf*ck, wanted to get out of there, like, how was it?
The first thing on the first day, first meditation, you basically.. You just think what the f*ck am I doing here??
Like, what is going on?? Like, why the f*uck am I here?? Because it's out of any kind of religion and they really, they insist on that, like, we're not trying to convert you on any religion, we are out of religion. Like, they teach.. Their teaching is from Buddha but it's outside of Buddhism.
And they insist on that. But it's still very “Eastern” culture. So you have some rituals, like, at the beginning of every meditation the guy is singing. And for them it's just, like, kind of putting up the mood for the meditation. And it's nothing spiritual, but as a good Western guy you just, like, what the f*uck? What am I doing here?
In time you just accommodate to that. And, I guess, your mind is just… Because you have to shut up for 10 days so you mind doesn't shut up, like, it wants to express, you know, so you just think a lot. When you have, like, free time you just think and think and think because basically we have 11 hours of meditation a day with some breaks to breathe a little.
On the first three days you're just focusing on your breathing and they just want you to calm yourself, to calm your mind, to be more and more aware. And they make you focus on smaller and smaller parts, like a smaller area near your nose. So you focus on the breathing but a smaller area, so you get like, you sharpen your spirit and you get more focused. And at the end of that all those three first days you feel calmer.
You feel, like, after the third day the mind slowed down, you're getting more used to, like, to presence?
Clement: Exactly, yeah
Did you felt like more the energy in your body like how was it the rest of the days? How was the experience?
The fourth day.. I don't want to give, to say too much about it because I think if you want to do vipassana, you have to discover
Clement: You know, you have to discover, you have to, kind of, keep the surprise.
Jofy: It's gonna be your own experience.
Yeah. And when you when you say too much about your own experience, you are wasting a bit the others experience, you know, because they have expectancies
Yeah and then they block the surrender that you need to have for your own experience to express. Like, right? If you're imagining how it's supposed to be because there’s some guy saying, then you will be thinking: “maybe I'm starting to fell this!”
Yeah, exactly! And you are interpreting everything and your mind is just going crazy…
A friend of mine said too much about his experience. I just thought, like, I didn't feel that. He told he felt that. I didn't feel that.
But the whole point of the experience is to remain equanimous about that. Just like it's okay if I feel that. It's okay if I feel pain instead of positive, like, pleasing sensations, you know. And just accepting it. And the whole point is to do that.
So just what I can tell you that from the fourth day - the real sh*t is happening! And that's when it becomes really challenging. You start to feel a lot of pain, physical pain and because you feel a lot of physical pain, then you learn to keep some distance with this pain. You go deeper into, like, deep feelings you had when you were younger. The funny thing is that when you have pain, you feel pain in your body and your brain will interpret this pain, it can give you an interpretation of this pain and you will see episodes of your life. But that's what happened to me, like, episodes of your life, like, I didn't even remember that happened to me, you know? But I remember now that I see it. And I remember it was… I was hurt this day. So you.. it just slaps in your face through the whole meditation..
That sounds like Ayahuasca trip! Just like facing all fears and past memories they they come straight at you like BAM BAM
And sometimes those aren't even real memories! Sometimes it’s just expression of your ego.
So this didn't happen but you have the images in your brain, you can see it and it's very hard not to think at the end like “what the f*ck?” like this came from me? I'm a monster! I thought about that… it can be real. So it's very important to just step from this and say - it's my ego. it's not, you know, kind of watch it as a third person. And I'm just feeling like it's okay, I'm just a human.
You know yeah it's not your conscious, like it's not the person that you think you are at a conscious level that it's coming up with these ideas but basically you're getting into the deeper states of consciousness, so this is information that it's on a subconscious level it's coming up and showing you, like, through images and like… because the funny thing, like, at our Academy we talked about how if you want to communicate with the subconscious mind you need to communicate through the senses. Like, visually, you need to hear things and feel and see them, have the taste of what they are. And if you learn how to say through the senses what you want to the mind, then you can also program it to help you achieve those things or heal those things. And it's funny when you go into the deeper states of consciousness or when you take like things like ayahuasca or whatever… You see that you're creating, like, the dream world, it's, like you're creating these visions, you have these emotions that come with visions and , like, I don't know these stories, yeah.
Because every single person will have an different interpretation. And what I really appreciated from this process, the Vipassana process, is that they don't tell you: “this is the way you have to do that” they just say, like, if you are a religious person, they say “you can't have any religious ritual during these 10 days.” Like, they want you to just do what they tell you to do because they want you to give a hundred percent chance to this technique, and at the end of the ten days you will judge. Just like give it a full try
Clements: and you will be able to have an opinion on it. I really like that.
Jofy: makes sense
And so yeah they step away from religion and they tell you that there is three steps to a teaching. Like, for example, when you when you take Christianity, for example (I was born in a Christian family, so it's a good reference for me) when you take Christianity, for example, it's the same for most mono faced religion. You have the first step - is the teaching, so it's writing – Bible. Like, the holy text for any kind of religion. The second step is to take example from people who applied this teaching. So the saints, the prophets. These people. But what is most amazing is the third step in the religion - You have to live it yourself. Just live it. Experience. Because if not… they basically… they don't say it because they want to hurt your feelings if you're religious, but basically, what they mean, is religion outside of experience is intellectual masturbation, you know.
Exactly! That's why, I like, I designed the thing like from thinking to knowing because one thing it's intellectually thinking about these things, but you're just thinking, you're not having a taste of it. So you cannot really understand it, you know, which is like… the experience is what matters, isn't it? So yeah. That makes total sense.
it's like saying: “yeah if I want to lose weight I just have to eat less calories”… yeah well just do it! It's a whole different thing to actually, you know, make the experiment and succeed in this path. And it's the same for like, yeah, “to become rich you just have to earn more money than you spend”… thank you guys… you know? So yeah, I like that. I like the fact that at the end of the experience you just like: “I gave it a try, I had my own experience and I can now speak of experience out of my experience”.
Awesome! Yeah. So any takeaways, like, that come to mind? Oh, yeah, something that I want to ask, like, after.. So, you come back, but how different do you feel?
Clement: Like mostly you are…
Jofy: in your own experience.
Yes, for my part, I was… I'm a calm guy, so it's weird to say I was calmer, because I am pretty calm. But, you know, since what they're teaching you is actually the comparison, (I like that comparison, I told you before) it's a neurosurgeon - you're the surgeon and also the guy that has surgery. and you're proceeding to the surgery on yourself and you know you don't have, like, any medications you just..it hurts, you know. And I like that because you proceed to the surgery on a deep level and you make deep stuff coming out and you get rid of some automations of your spirit, of your ego. What I noticed after a few days.. We all know someone when they say something (usually parents, usually this is with parents) they say something they used to say, and it triggers something in you, you know, it annoys you. It gets you angry. And I noticed that when these things happen, I wasn't… it's not that I had control over the feelings, is that I didn't have the feeling anymore.
Jofy: I didn't, like, connect with, like, how to say, you weren't being triggered because you weren't feeling connected to that experience? Like to that trigger of pain? You weren't being identified with those fights anymore in a way?
Well is that what the whole point of, I think, of awareness and meditation is to actually step back from any feeling you feel inside and not identify yourself with it. Like, being able to say “all right that's funny, my body is feeling this right now.” it's funny you know, I like to think like “oh Clement is feeling this right, now that's funny”. But I was… I didn't have the feeling in the first place! Like, I didn't have the feeling anymore, you know?
Yeah! You we’re vibrating and flowing so much that they didn't even appear.
Clement: know that's just thinking like, she said that to me, like for my mother for example, last time she said that to me, I was angry, I felt that, but I don't feel it anymore! And just feel compassion.
Jofy: You just feel awesome!
Clement: Yeah, exactly!
A few weeks after this experiment a member of my family died. It was my great uncle. And I received a message from my mother on Friday evening: “your great-uncle is at the hospital
because he had some problem” and my parents were away, my brother and sisters were away… and I just thought like the day after I just felt like I have to go visit him at the hospital.
And so I went to the hospital and I went to visit him - that it was really personal. I didn't talk about this to anyone in my family because it was, like, a personal thing, a personal action I wanted to do. So I saw him on his bed and we had this amazing moment, connection. I'm really grateful for that.
And I knew when I left the hospital that the day after I will receive a message saying that it was, you know, the end. And the day after I received this message and that's the moment where… because my mother couldn't see her uncle I told her “well, I saw him yesterday” and I didn't feel sad at all. I felt like just gratitude, like, I got to know this guy, I got to learn from him, and I got to have this amazing moment on the final day of his life, we shared that.. And…
Jofy: you were just feeling grateful
Just grateful, yeah. And I know he felt pain.. and I'm just, like.. basically when you're sad when an old person is dying it's kind of an egoistic… You're just thinking about the fact that you won't see this person anymore. But you know that this if this person was suffering it's better that way and it's good for them. And I like what they say in vipassana: “When you meditate you don't learn how to live, you learn how to die. And by learning how to die you learn how live.”
And I like what they say in vipassana: “When you meditate you don't learn how to live, you learn how to die. And by learning how to die you learn how live.”
Jofy: Totally, yeah
Clement: And every single meditator dies smiling. And I think it's a good takeaway!
Yeah, I can definitely relate to that… so yeah, awesome, would you recommend that people would do it?
Jofy: If they feel a calling, yeah?
Definitely, but yeah, like you say, when you go out of this experience you just feel like everybody should do it. But they have to feel a calling.
Jofy: Yeah, yeah.
It must be… it must come from them, it's very important that it comes.. so if you feel the calling just if it comes from you, you feel interested - just go. It's very important to do it but don't force yourself because you won't make it until the end if you force yourself. Ten days is hard but it's really worth it.
Awesome! so yeah I think it's time to wrap it up, the guys from the restaurant trying to close the place. So yeah, man, this was awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
Clement: Yeah, no problem! Was a pleasure.
I bet it's gonna resonate with someone with someone!
So yeah guys, awesome!
Jofy: see you next time!