Take Your Mind to Bootcamp

As readers of this blog know we are big on mind-training. In fact we believe it is the principal type of training required to achieve a One Percent life.

If you trained your mind to the same extent the man above trained his body, do you really think anything would be impossible for you?

Below we discuss the possible application of the 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat  as a “Bootcamp for the Mind.”


VIpassana is a form of meditation rooted in the Buddhist tradition, and the actual retreat is non-sectarian, non-religious, non-denominational.

You might think that “Buddhism is a religion” but it’s also a psychological system for the cessation of suffering, one of the more advanced on the planet.

What can you expect on a 10-day retreat? We have taken this course, so we can tell you:

  • 10 days of silence (no speaking at all)
  • 10 days of 2 vegetarian meals a day (eat less)
  • 10 days of waking up at 4 or 5 am (like most great people)
  • 10 days of morality, meaning no sexual activity, no intoxicants, no harming others, no lying (few opportunities for any of this)
  • 10 days of separation from the opposite gender (no distractions)
  • 10 days of rigorous mental instruction and practice. This is not “sit and let your mind wander”. That would be hard enough for most people but what is actually trained is harder. You are given a mental task each day and expected to improve in it systematically. Just like boot camp for the body.

If you go on the 10 day retreat you will meditate a minimum of 4 hours per day and if you are committed, 6-7. Most of us are not accustomed to doing any one thing for this much time per day, not even working, so this is a challenge in and of itself. But like most large challenges, the rewards are there.

Vipassana has three stages: morality, concentration, wisdom, and they go in order. That is why you must clean up your personal morality (no lying, cheating, stealing, sexual impurities, intoxicants, poisons, filthy eating, negative emotions) before your mind will settle down into clear concentration. And concentration is necessary before wisdom will well up from within:

“Insight (wisdom) is the sharp ax, and concentration is the strong arm. Together they can cut down the tree of suffering at its roots; individually the ax and the arm cannot fell it.” Donald S Lopez Jr, The Scientific Buddha


First, a few caveats.

Don’t go on the course if you are currently deep in depression or even suspect you might suffer from a mental illness. Just like you wouldn’t join a military bootcamp if you were sick or injured.

Don’t go on the course thinking it will be a vacation. There is not a bunch of free time in which you can do yoga, journal, read, or nap. There is a strict policy of no writing, no reading, no exercising (except walking) on the course. This is so the mind can settle and focus, no distractions.

Don’t go on the course expecting it will solve all your pain or suffering or turn you into a brilliant yogi overnight. It will not. Morality, concentration, and wisdom take time to build, on the order of years, not days.

Don’t go on the course if you have never meditated before. You can break this rule (many do) but I would suggest you establish a practice first. This is for your own good. There will be less pain if you establish a practice first.

Now what will you face if you do go?

  1. You may be faced with the demons of your cravings. For many this is sexual thoughts or food cravings.
  2. You may witness your mind’s incredible power. We were able to write entire screenplays in our heads over the course of several hours.
  3. You may experience deep peace and deep moments of timelessness. Apparent mental freedom from time, space and illusory world.
  4. You may face a rollercoaster of emotions. Many people weep with joy or pain or find themselves very disturbed.
  5. You may experience intense physical pain. Because of the nature of burning away suffering this happens to many, if not most, people. It can be mitigated by establishing a strong meditation practice before going. 1-2 hours sitting time minimum practice is recommended to have a hope of being ‘prepared’ for 5-7 hours sitting time.
  6. You may be overwhelmed with a huge amount of creative ideas. When the mind gets free of useless thoughts, the internal wellspring is visible again. You will want to write everything down but don’t worry. The wellspring is always there.
  7. You may recall events from childhood you had completely forgotten.
  8. You may receive deep insights or solutions to problems that had plagued you for months or years.
  9. You may experience extremely unusual physical bodily sensations.

There is more possible and not everyone will experience all (or even some) of these.

Now even though this retreat is free we wouldn’t recommend it if was a transitory experience that had no lasting impact.

Fortunately most people experience a lasting impact, even a profound change in their lives following.

Here are some possibilities we have discussed with others or experienced ourselves:

  • Deep, unshakeable feeling of calm in daily life
  • Ability to problem-solve and process faster than before
  • Huge appreciation for natural beauty and simple pleasures
  • Everyday life becomes frictionless. Big or small tasks are accomplish just as easily
  • Enhanced feelings of compassion for other people, with the result that you judge less, and get angry at others less
  • Moments of deep clarity where the “inner monologue” becomes completely silent
  • Professional life becomes different, easier. Solutions present themselves to you readily
  • Social and emotional cognition at greater speeds — see what others want before they know it themselves
  • Vivid, detailed and more comprehensive dream states / dream recall

The key thing to remember here is that this is a boot camp for your mind. So the same expectations you would have of your body coming out of a physical boot camp apply to your mind. It will be stronger, healthier, faster, less prone to illness and injury, and more capable of handling challenging tasks thrown at it by the world.

With these benefits it is our sincere recommendation that everyone prepare themselves and attend a mental bootcamp at some point if they are serious about achieving the One Percent lifestyle.


8 thoughts on “Take Your Mind to Bootcamp

  1. Looking at the website, this is seriously intense stuff. I’ve just been checking out the timetable for a UK course, the dates of which line up pretty well with a gap in my work. How hard is it to stay the path ? Does your mind become accustomed to the hours of meditation each day and not be left almost tortured by the boredom? Or does the process become enjoyable as well as beneficial?

    I’m very interested in the idea, taking time away to think is such an important process and yet one that is very rarely undertaken in today’s world (or likely rarely in any time).

    • The mind gets used to it. For me there was a period on day 2-3 where I became slightly depressed/homesick. But this was minimal and passed quickly. By day 7 or 8 I was meditating when no one else was in the hall and had to be reminded to come to dinner; I had long moments of blissful timelessness.

      Of course everyone will have a different experience. No one can tell you in advance what it will be like. That’s part of the value. It takes some balls.

      • Cheers. I signed up this morning for a course. It’s not until October so I have plenty of time to train my meditating.

  2. Great Post…i have been to numerous retreats…and it is truly boot camp for the mind….i actaully at one point thought to integrate thie practive into an athletic training scenario….in fact…even got the website…theperformancemind.com… it never came to fruition….but it sounds like this is what you have intended….its interesting how an athlete who dedicates so much time to physical fitness often forgets the mental aspect….this practice is the retraining of the mind to have the ultimate in focus..to be in the moment ….which ultimately is similar in fashion to the term “in the zone”….as the brain is just a machine….and if allowed to do its work….it will proficiently do so…its once the mind wanders beyond what is now…that places the limits on the functionality of this beautiful machine we possess. Goood Luck my friend.

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