Vipassana : The Prequel

My journey with Vipassana meditation is a an ongoing adventure into the subconscious and spiritual self which continues to shape my life whether in a consistent practice or a meditative dry spell.  My first experience in March 2015 is something that I regard as the moment my existence, place in the world, relationship with emotion, my love for self, and how I relate to others shifted. While writing this post, I realized this is a long story which is best broken up into multiple parts starting with where I was before stepping foot into the center. I also am very conscious of how a post regarding a spiritual experience can come off as a preachy missionary spreading the word of fill in the blank. With that said, one of the main draws of Vipassana is their instruction to accept things based solely on one’s own experience so  “I’ll tell you what I believe and you’re free to handle that reality however you like” 

For those unfamiliar, a Vipassana meditation retreat is 10 days of silence (no talking, eye contact, gesturing) with zero outside contact, no phones, no music, no reading, no organized religious practice, no exercise apart from walking, etc. while following a “Code of Discipline.” Morning meditations begin at 4:30 am with a discourse ending the day at 9 pm. With nothing to distract your mind and 10+ hours of meditation per day, you use the breath and physical sensation to dive into the subconscious ocean inside. The breath is used to cross the border of the conscious mind into the subconscious because it is the only function we are able to mindfully control or normally allow to become a unconscious action throughout the majority of our lives. Another aspect that brought me to Vipassana is it’s non-religious nature. The technique itself is investigating one’s own being only through sensation and experience without judgement. Participants are also encouraged to think for themselves and to never blindly subscribe to or accept something based on someone else’s views or experience.

An important part of this spiritual journey has been the headspace and darker life events I was coming from which is where this story begins.

I had graduated Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2013, a time where I achieved goals I set for myself from the start of fashion school culminating in my own brand’s show at a CFDA recognized fashion week immediately upon graduation. Looking back, while I was hitting the milestones I labeled as “success” for a young designer and ticking the boxes I thought would bring happiness, this was one of my lowest times on the mental health front. To distract from the toxic, emotionally abusive, disaster of my first relationship, I had buried myself in my work for 3 years ; something that life in America applauded as ambition. When I couldn’t ignore my complete loss of self any longer, that relationship ended while simultaneously my drive for fashion flickered out. Since the contract for fashion week had already been signed, five months and an inhumane amount of meltdowns later, I walked straight off the runway after my finale, a shell of a human being, and symbolically out of the fashion world for the next eight months. 

I first heard of Vipassana from a stranger in the salon & spa I was managing in Portland, ME. While pitching skincare products the conversation turned to meditation and other forms of wellness. Ultimately they wrote ‘Vipassana’ on the back of my business card which I immediately misplaced before having the chance to research. One year and another failed relationship later, I was cleaning my room of any evidence of my second love when, in a serendipitous moment, I found that card. A couple hours later I was signed up for a course in six months, ironically ending on my 24th birthday. 

The week before leaving I had the conversation I’d been avoiding for years : if I eventually am to get married, would my Dad attend and support that marriage? Unsurprisingly, the answer was no based on his religious ideology around the semantics of marriage to which I reacted by cutting him completely out of my life. By the end of the ten days and countless healing breakthroughs (meltdowns) later he was the first person I made contact with as I spoke for the first time on the final morning of the retreat.

If you are interested in a Vipassana meditation retreat, I suggest you visit their website and not read the next couple posts about my journey. This way you can “sit your own course” without any expectations or ideas of what ‘might’ or ‘should’ happen. Trust me, once you have an experience with Nirvana, it’s difficult not to crave which in turn, defeats the entire purpose of the practice. Check out the global Vipassana site HERE for center locations. 


K A L A P A / / #EvinOz

In September 2017, I packed a fraction of my belongings into a backpack and moved myself 10,000+ miles across the globe to Melbourne, Australia. The thought of starting a travel blog occurred to me from the jump but the fear of failing both at blogging and at starting a multi-year chapter down under kept my adventures mostly offline. My experiences in Melbourne were some of the most humbling, heart racing, and mind opening moments in my life. The idea of fear keeping one from saying yes to opportunities was at the forefront of my perspective shifting as I hurtled into a new life where, for the first time, I watched myself authentically flourish. 

As the saying goes “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the other is right now.” With that in mind, Kalapa starts now as I eat a veggie burger overlooking the Cairns Esplanade; music thumping in my earbuds and fruit bats flying overhead. To start, Kalapa will be a reflection of my time in Southern Australia, some how-to’s with visas (since I could not find a full helpful guide while applying), travel itinerary ideas, and of course a healthy dose of mindfulness. To see my current environment, head over to Instagram

The name Kalapa is a concept/symbol/word that has been close to my core since my first experience at a Vipassana meditation retreat in March 2015 where my outlook and view of the world experienced a coup in silence while diving into the subconscious mind. I’ll undoubtedly post that story at some point in the near future (Meditative Mondays?). Simply put, my mind’s pathways have changed since my body, ego, and ‘self’ dissolved into bubbly energy on Day 4 of 10. It’s also the story behind my 8 tiny circle tattoos, something that, when asked to explain, rapidly passes all small talk formalities into a deeper connection regardless of level of intimacy.  

The hashtag #EvinOz came to mind because, while it’s obvious that I’m in Australia, a.k.a Oz, the symbolism from the classic Wizard of Oz comes to mind. Oz is a destination of wealth; a goal at the end of a journey or what everyone is chasing. The idea behind this new blog venture is to share my experience of chasing that wealth, journeying for moments and connections that make my life rich. ‘Dirt poor but spirit wealthy’ isn’t just a bohemian sentiment anymore; it’s become the reality of starting a fresh chapter on a new continent and I couldn’t be happier. 

#EvinOz

Smiles at Wineglass Bae, Tasmania

Smile while exploring Thundering Cave at Loch Ard Gorge, Great Ocean Road

Smiles after a swim at Tobruk Memorial Pool, Cairns QLD

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