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Vipassana experience.My journey to Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur

Silicon Valley is a place where some of the most talented entrepreneurs from all over the world have gathered. It is a place where businessmen not only build global companies and compete with the strongest competitors, but also look for opportunities to conduct business and manage their attention consciously.

When we first arrived in the US, locals recommended three popular practices among Silicon Valley residents: Vipassana, Burning Man, and Ayahuasca.

In this article, I want to talk about one of them – my experience with Vipassana.

Why did I go to Vipassana?

I went to Vipassana to immerse myself in silence, calm my mind, and gain a better understanding of what is essential for me today and what I should let go of. The practice lasted for 12 days, during which many different thoughts and revelations came to my mind. I confronted my fears, reflected on my family, and made decisions about my business.

Memories from my past resurfaced, and I connected them to what is happening in my life now. I finally realized why certain fears bother me. Most of us know what needs to be done, but we often cannot take responsibility and decisive action due to our fears. It’s as if we burden ourselves with unimportant things, fail to listen to ourselves, and continue to make mistakes.

As a result of this meeting with myself, I remembered the achievements that brought me to where I am today and saw what needs to be prioritized and what should be discarded.

How did it all start?

The first day was filled with pain all over my body, and the second day was tough mentally. On the third day, it seemed like I had reached a breaking point.
During Vipassana, it is both easy and hard not to imagine something, as suggested by the meditation guides in all the other teachings about attention. Instead, one should simply observe the body in the present moment without any expectations, not anticipating any specific sensations, warmth, fullness, or emptiness. The goal is to see reality as it is, without any old experiences, expectations, or hopes.

The main focus is on observing the sensations and listening to the thoughts that come and go without clinging to them. The task is to anchor your attention on the body, recognizing that everything in life is constantly changing.

For 12 hours a day, you sit and train your attention in one position with your eyes closed. Like a river, everything around us is in motion, and it is difficult to pause our favorite sensations. We often run away from discomfort, not admitting what we should have done a long time ago, such as taking care of our physical or mental health, making difficult business decisions, or apologizing to someone. We are in an endless pursuit of what is challenging to keep.

It makes sense to observe the present moment so that emotions do not obscure your mind. When you lose track of time, it is captivating, inspiring, and absorbing. But everything changes endlessly, and your task is to observe without reacting to any distractions, as they become your main limiter that blocks clarity.

On the third day, I had many insights, but I was also ready to leave without thinking. My back, leg, and nose hurt, and I woke up every hour from the temperature in my body and a slight chill. After the most difficult night of the last year, I got up fresh and confident that I could make it to the end. I did the practice and finally understood why I came to Vipassana in the first place.

A look into the past

During one of my meditations, I observed thoughts about the difficult moments that my wife Alina and I have faced in recent years. As migrants in a foreign country without any acquaintances, we had to start from scratch. I left behind everything I had built in my previous country, where I was someone who knew how to earn money, to become a no-one in a new country.

We had to resolve issues related to obtaining work visas, finding housing, and adapting our daughter Zarina to a completely unfamiliar environment. We had to search for tutors, schools, and extracurricular activities for her.

All my previous experiences turned out to be unnecessary and even unwanted. I had to find new ways to work remotely with a team to build a product line, secure venture capital deals, provide management consulting, write a book about culture, and promote our content through different channels to reach like-minded people. I had to create marketing and sales strategies, test thousands of hypotheses (most of which were unsuccessful), and find what works and scale it.

As soon as we built something more or less solid, a new wave of changes would turn our ship 180 degrees. Personal crises and depression forced us to rebuild everything from scratch. The pandemic was a major blow that destroyed our business model and forced us to change our culture and management processes to adapt to remote work.
At some point, we achieved what we were striving for, with all our metrics driven by well-tuned business processes. I am now entirely out of the operating system and narrowly focused on writing a new book about venture investments. However, the war in Ukraine in February 2022 forced us to rebuild everything from scratch again, except for our culture and management processes, which have remained intact.

We generated traffic, hired a targetologist, developed rebranding, and made all the packaging materials. We created dozens of new websites, commercial offers, videos for a YouTube channel, and a new content strategy. We restarted sales, developed an effective sales funnel, adapted to new people, resolved issues with obtaining visas in new realities, and found new markets.

Since March 2022, we have rebuilt 60% of our internal processes and reinforced them with adaptations, expectations, and training explanations. We want our team to take responsibility and formulate personal plans, not just expect tasks from our organization.

As a result, I now spend three times less time meeting with the team and more time focusing on tasks outside the team, watching our main metrics grow, and expanding our business to new countries. We have become the No. 1 business for Russian-speaking people, and we are eagerly waiting for outstanding entrepreneurs to join our programs in September and November.

My conclusions

Reflecting on everything I wrote above, I realized that the metaphor of a monkey in a cage is an excellent way to describe what is happening with the consciousness of modern humans. Our attention rushes from one distraction to another, just like a monkey jumps from one banana to the other. The monkey mind makes us run in circles, preventing us from breaking through the ceiling.

The only way out of this cycle is to find balance and stop reacting to every distraction. We cannot achieve balance by performing specific rituals or praying in a certain way. Nobody can carry us on this path. Only we can realize our inclinations and aversions that take us out of balance and become an observer of reality.

One of the conclusions I drew from my 12 days of silence is that our consciousness and attention can be our best assistants or the most dangerous and powerful enemies, depending on what we choose.

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