Year of Discovery (Weeks 36/37: Vipassana)

Audrey Cheng
4 min readDec 23, 2021


December 8–19 was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. This period was deeply profound, mind-altering, and truly life-changing with wisdom learned experientially, practically and logically.

On those 10 days, I participated in Vipassana, a silent meditation retreat. 10 days of 10 hours of meditation, noble silence (no verbal or non-verbal communication with other attendees), no access to technology (phones, computer), no reading, no writing. Just me and my mind.

Every day, the schedule looked like this:

  • 4:00 am: Morning wake-up bell
  • 4:30–6:30 am: Meditate in the hall or in the room
  • 6:30–8:00 am: Breakfast break
  • 8:00–9:00 am: Group meditation in the hall
  • 9:00–11:00 am: Meditate in the hall or in the room according to the teacher’s instructions
  • 11:00–12:00: Lunch break
  • 12 -1:00 pm: Rest and interviews with the teacher
  • 1:00–2:30 pm: Meditate in the hall or in the room
  • 2:30–3:30 pm: Group meditation in the hall
  • 3:30–5:00 pm: Meditate in the hall or in the room according to the teacher’s instructions
  • 5:00–6:00 pm: Tea break
  • 6:00–7:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
  • 7:00–8:15 pm: Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
  • 8:15–9:00 pm: Group meditation in the hall
  • 9:00–9:30 pm: Question time in the hall
  • 9:30 pm: Retire to the room — Lights out

I went into Vipassana with a few questions I wanted clarity on. One of my questions was why I continued to feel agitation despite being on my Year of Discovery, a time I thought would naturally generate peace and curiosity. While building Moringa, I had always envisioned a day post-startup where my mind would be more at peace without the hustle and grind of day-to-day responsibilities. But even with the lighter load this year, I still found myself filled with worries and agitation from numerous sources (uncertainty, change, searching outside of myself for stability). I realized that I couldn’t look outside of myself and attribute my discomfort externally (regardless of the situation I was in), and that I needed to spend more time internally to uncover the truth around suffering, peace and happiness.

I had known of Vipassana for many years, but kept putting it off. When a friend mentioned Vipassana to me again in October, I knew it was the right time to do it. Though all of the hours I spent this year in therapy, coaching, meditating and attending dharma talks was a good start, I needed to throw myself into the deep end to move from awareness to intellectualization (dharma talks) to internalization (living the wisdom). I aimed to bridge the gap between what I say and what I aspired to be like versus what I do and think on a daily basis. I wanted to understand my mind at a level beyond what I’ve known before.

On day 1, I was nervous for I had never meditated so many hours in a day before (though to my surprise, I found that a number of the attendees had never meditated before Vipassana). On day 2, I found my mind wandering to the pain in my legs and the questions around my work mission that I wanted clarity on. I was able to find clarity remarkably quickly and wondered to myself what the next 8 days would entail if my original goal coming to the meditation had been achieved. The work on the following days was difficult and led to the most profound insights.

The experience made me realize how much time since birth I spend looking outside of myself for certainty, validation and truth, and how in reality, the answers to why I suffer and how I create happiness and peace were within me all along. I learned about dhamma (the law of nature) through the framework of my body and observed at a moment to moment basis how change is constant (and everything is temporary). I saw how my attachment to my self and the concept of self was creating suffering, how my attachment to aversions (dislikes) and cravings (likes) was creating more suffering and how to realize the truth in the law of nature to live a life of less suffering. In short, I learned a technique that will enable me to move through life without as much friction as I was creating before in my own mind and act/speak from compassion rather than fear.

Coming out of Vipassana, I’m deeply grateful for being able to access the wisdom at this point in my life, which will serve me for the rest of my life. I feel a lightness in my relationships and in my present. I spoke with my mother and was able to bring a new energy to reset our relationship and allow for more positivity, support and kindness. I’ve noticed in the last few days the impact of having more understanding over my mind, being able to bring myself to the present and understanding my reactions for what they are. The technique has enabled me to start moving away from the old habit patterns of my mind and create new, healthier ones. I can see how the impact of this technique will positively shape the way I approach the multiple roles I play: a daughter, a friend, a partner, a caregiver, a cofounder, a leader, a manager and more.

The work continues after Vipassana. As recommended by the teacher (S. N. Goenka), I’ve started a meditation practice of 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. The technique is a reminder of the law of nature, allows me to see my agitations for what they are and helps me observe them objectively without trying to control them. It enables me to create peace, happiness and harmony in my day to day.

S. N. Goenka, the foremost lay teacher of Vipassana meditation of our time

I’m grateful. Deeply grateful. Onward.



Audrey Cheng

Taiwanese American. Curious about ideas and solutions that support human flourishing.