A few years ago, Yetka Zarrinkafsh was at a crossroads. She says her life was extremely busy and she needed somewhere to be quiet. That somewhere was a special meditation retreat where they practice the ancient Buddhist technique of Vipassana, meditation in complete silence.
The retreat lasts all day long, every day and with a silent break for meals and sleep. No phones. No TVs. No reading. No writing.
“The first couple of days were hard because I wasn't used to not doing anything external,” explained Zarrinkafsh.
With more and more people growing over-worked and tired, 10-day Vipassana retreats are selling out across the country.
ABC7 was allowed unprecedented access inside a retreat held on Maryland's eastern shore. It was attended by people of all ages, races and backgrounds.
“If you try to learn how to calm your mind and control your mind then you become more peaceful and more happy,” said Umesh Giri, a participant.
Jonathan Penn still feels the same, months after attending his retreat. The 34-year-old NASA engineer says it gave him more control over his own mind, allowing him to better deal with stress on the job and at home.
“If some emotion comes up in the regular life, it comes. I experience it,” said Penn. “And it just passes away quicker and I'm able to get back to whatever I wanted to be doing.”
People describe the Vipassana meditation as a life-changing experience. And it doesn't cost anything, though donations are accepted. The next local silent retreat is in October.