When my Love for Meditation Began to Grow

Almost 10 years have gone by since I first started dipping into wellness, psychology, and personal development. Purely by reading books, my interest and excitement were sparked in a way I hadn’t experienced before. What these first books had in common, was that they all spoke highly of meditation. After reading about the beautiful effects of pausing, sitting in silence, and turning inwards, I wanted to experience it myself. And so, I did. 

Julia Roberts

In my lively student home shared with 9 other girls, I started out by trying to follow meditation instructions from a book. This was messy and didn’t really work. Then, I tried the Basics course offered by the meditation app Headspace. This was an adequate experience, but the habits didn’t really stick. It might be a cliché, but things changed when I watched Eat Pray Love for the first time. In this movie, Julia Roberts portraying writer Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy, India, and Bali in the hopes to rekindle her love for life. Despite its bad reviews, this movie opened a whole new world for me. One that I’d been unconsciously looking for. In India, the writer spends her time meditating in an ashram. At the time, I had never heard of such retreats abroad. When I saw it, I just knew I was going to do something similar soon. It was one of those rare crystal-clear moments. The next day, I started researching and planning.

Vipassana Meditation Taught by an Australian Former Buddhist Monk

3 months later, at the age of 23, I boarded a plane to Thailand to both travel around and meditate. For the latter, I had chosen to join a 9-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat led by the Australian Anthony Markwell, a former Buddhist monk. Vipassana is a traditional Buddhist meditation technique. These aren’t the type of retreats that come with massages and buttery soft bedsheets. Vipassana retreats come with a very strict schedule and set of rules. To create the best meditation environment possible, everything that could function as a distraction from your inner world is removed. The week is spent in noble silence (which simply means no talking), meditating for ± 8 hours a day, waking up at 4 a. m. every morning., and sleeping on a relatively hard surface to help keep your awareness stronger than usual during the night. Going in, I knew it was going to be challenging. But I was also so intrigued and curious.

Coming Home

The retreat ended up being a life-changing experience that inspires me to this day. It was definitely difficult, but Anthony’s teachings and guidance were powerful. The atmosphere was gentle and supportive, despite the many restrictions. After these 9 days, I felt a calmness I’d never experienced before. I remember sitting in front of the bungalow I’d rented afterward, looking at the ocean for about an hour and feeling so fulfilled. I didn’t feel restless anymore. My fears of being bored, boring or unproductive were gone. Better yet, I felt grounded, balanced, confident, light, healthy, and genuinely content all at the same time. There was a gentleness towards myself and life that I’d unknowingly been longing for. I’d never felt so at home within myself before.

The Implementation Challenge

I’d love to tell you that these feelings never left and that I’ve never steered away from my meditation practice, but this definitely isn’t true. A few weeks after the retreat, I returned home to my busy student life. Even though I now knew a calmer lifestyle suited me better, I wasn’t ready for it yet. I tried implementing my new habits into my old life, but that turned out to be rather challenging. Over time, I slowly lost touch with the experience. Yet, the retreat had planted a seed inside of me and I knew I could start watering it again whenever I felt truly ready.

Fast-forward to today, I can’t imagine a life without meditation. I feel called to sit down in silence almost every day. Even though I switch up my Vipassana meditation practice with other forms of introspection, not a month goes by without me thinking of my retreat with Anthony. I’m planning to return to the beautiful Thai island of Koh Phangan to visit his new meditation center for another week of silence in the future. If you also feel intrigued by meditation, I highly recommend you do the same.

Lots of love,


P.s. Curious? Learn more about Anthony and his retreats at indriyaretreat.org. Besides Vipassana meditation retreats, he’s now also offering Loving-kindness meditation retreats that sound beautiful.