Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is well known for his extreme health regimes. From an extreme form of intermittent fasting to saunas and early-morning ice baths, the co-founder of the microblogging site seems to have tried a lot of things for health and wellness. Some of these trends, when attempted without a proper trainer, can have less than ideal results.
His latest experiment has been with vipassana. A regular meditator, Dorsey went for a 10-day vipassana retreat to Myanmar for his birthday this year on 19 November. While Dorsey is encouraging people to follow the method for internal peace, it is also being called yet another “tech bro” health trend – a health trend that is popular among men working in the US’ Silicon Valley.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Reuters
Vipassana is a Buddhist form of meditation where the practitioner is asked to focus on their inner self and release every thought that comes their way – the ultimate goal is to completely empty the mind of any thought and just be an observer.
Not a quick fix
There is no doubt that mindfulness and meditation have health benefits. Studies say that vipassana can reduce physical symptoms, especially pain and psychological distress – anxiety, depression and stress. But vipassana is not really a practice you can do for a set period of time and hope for the benefits to last forever.
In 2015, scientists at the School of Psychological Sciences, Australia, showed that any benefits of mindfulness start to decrease six months after you stop practising them.
You’ll have to set your mind to it and practice it regularly if you want to reap the benefits.
Difficult to follow
In the past, the extreme intermittent fasting, or “biohacking”, as Dorsey had named it, was called messy and haphazardous by health experts who thought it may do more harm than good to the body and may even foreshadow eating disorders. Though vipassana may not be as bad when followed as per the schedule Dorsey followed, it can be difficult to practice in everyday life.
Experts say that there are a lot of factors that make a 10-day retreat like this successful, the major one being the environment of the retreat itself. It is natural to feel calmer and ease into meditation when you are put in a stress-free place. The participants in such regimes are kept away from the TV, newspapers, or any other potential distractions.
All the practitioners are given simple food – mostly comprising fresh fruits and vegetables – on a specific schedule and are not allowed to physically exert themselves apart from walking in the area.
And finally, there could be a placebo effect. If you take out so much time for any particular thing, it is bound to feel good, isn’t it?