The Journey to Enlightenment Begins by Shutting Up

The extreme highs and lows of radical meditation.




"I'm going to a silent retreat," I tell my friends, looking for some kind of commiseration—but they respond unsurprised, as if expecting this self-intervention was bound to happen someday. 
When I tell them it’s a 10-day thing, they become a bit more sympathetic. “I’ll probably sneak out at midnight, look for a sari-sari store and buy some Tanduay,” I joke. Ten days of silence is like suffering to someone like me, who is more accustomed to late nights, noise, and social media histrionics. But I willingly surrender anyway: I signed up through the Vipassana Meditation website, and a week later, was approved a slot at the Dhamma Phala center—a Buddhist boot camp of sorts, as I would soon learn.

Originally published in Esquire magazine, March 2016.

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