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Hello!

I'm Reimar Wen Shen - founder and teacher of Vipassana at Home.

My mission is to connect you to deeper innate awareness, silence, and wisdom. The way is through Vipassana meditation and other complementary practices.

This page offers a little bit of insight into my path so far.  For you to have a better idea of who I am and what I wish to share through Vipassana at Home.

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My Path

Growing up

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I grew up in Germany in a multicultural environment. A Singaporean mother and German father sparked a later interest to meet different ways of being in this world.

I loved high intensity sports such as rock climbing, snowboarding and parkour. I was also training in martial arts - attaining a Black Belt in Taekwondo. In hindsight, it was through these that I grew to appreciate and seek the states of flow and presence that came in sports.

I also struggled as a teenager - anxiety and a lifelong struggle with eczema. Although I grew up in a safe and loving family and environment, I met the suffering caused by my own body and mind. In hindsight, these are what had me looking for ways to soothe or improve my condition. It was only later I discovered healthy ways to do so. 

Economics and Ayahuasca

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At 18, I moved to Melbourne, Australia for university. Being good with numbers and logical thought,  I studied Economics and Finance.

 

With building self-imposed stress from internships and extracurriculars, my skin became worse and led me to participating in my first "wellbeing retreat" at age 21. This became a formative experience as the practices of Yoga, Mindfulness and Nature improved my mental and physical health drastically in just a week. A new world started opening.

Before starting my graduate job offer, I went on a trip to Peru. Having heard of the potential of psychedelic experiences, I spontaneously went on a 5-day Ayahuasca retreat.

This became another pivotal experience for me. It blew my Self and World apart as I knew it. In one trip, I experienced a complete death and saw the insignificance of existence.  Left with a sense of purposelessness, I am grateful that the next trip offered me an experience of unconditional love and compassion for myself. It became clear that a life's work would be the gradual and progressive work of integrating this experience.

A Yoga teacher training, my first meditation retreat (Tibetan Samatha meditation) and first 10-day Vipassana retreat (SN Goenka) quickly followed. I was presented with a path. A systematic and logical way to develop insight into the nature of reality.  

Vipassana in a Suit

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I started my first job in Investment Strategy at Vanguard with a strong commitment to my meditation and Yoga practice. I used all my leave to go on Vipassana retreats (Goenka style), practiced two hours per day (living with another serious meditator helped) and started teaching Vinyasa and Yin Yoga classes after work. 

I learnt and read everything about Buddhist meditation and was particularly inspired by the work of Culadasa, Sam Harris, Shinzen Young, Michael Taft and Daniel Ingram (see recommended resources) which helped me understand my practice in a modern and non-sectarian way. 

While my job was everything I could have asked for - great manager, team, work-life balance and opportunities, I became disillusioned with the way I was using (or not using) the body, heart and mind at work. I am also however very grateful for this time as it taught me to think in a critical, structured and evidence-based way.

In the beginning of COVID-19 I flew back to Germany with plans to go to any Buddhist Asian country and practice.

Deepening the practice

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With free time and being COVID-locked in Germany, I put in the hours. Sitting and serving 10-day Goenka retreats and going on my first Vipassana retreat in a variant of the Mahasi Noting style practice at Dhammacari near Munich. 

The Noting style practice landed on fertile ground with me after all of the seemingly mechanical body-scanning. I felt it complemented and gave me a new tool to observe what I was being caught in while incessantly focussing on the Body.

I practiced in a particularly intense Noting style in the tradition of Ajahn Tong of Northern Thailand. The retreats include increasing meditation time to 2-hour sessions and practicing 24 hours for the last few days (yes that means not sleeping!). I faced a lot of shadow sides during this time.

Auditory, visual and somatic hallucinations, my old friend, the eczema all resurfaced and became ground for insight into the impermanent, non-self and dissatisfactory nature of experience. It instated in me a deep conviction in the power of mindful awareness in reducing the subjective experience of suffering, regardless of circumstance. 

Meeting Dance

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In 2021 I flew to Thailand. A quick detour to Koh Phangan before plans of heading to the Ajahn Tong monastery (Wat Chom Thong) became a two-year chapter. I met Contact Improvisation and OceanDance.

Meeting dance improvisation in land and water opened up another world for me. Contact improvisation dance for me is about deeply listening to sensations and allowing movement to be born from there. Contact Improvisation is not a fixed form but one that is constantly evolving. There is no authorities defining it. I love it because it breaks hierarchies and empowers each person to find their own relation and curiosity in it. It inspires my meditation practice a lot.

 

I fell in love immediately and felt it perfectly brought together my interest in the body & physicality with my curiosity in awareness and meditation while also helping me to connect deeply to others. Contact Improvisation for me is a continued deepening of being open, curious, caring, centered and deeply sensitive in shared presence.

For two years, this became my life. I met many dancers, some with also a deep interest in meditation. We continued researching, practicing, meditating together for hours everyday on land and in the water. 

Some videos below:

OceanDance. Dancing in the water in depths up to 12 meters.

Contact Improvisation. Improvising with a close friend after two years researching together

Contact Improvisation Jam. The 'jam' format is one in which the form is globally practiced. Many dancer come together in a non-verbal space for 2-3 hours. Sometimes with music, sometimes without.

Vipassana at Home and Wat Sopharam

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During my two years on Koh Phangan I also started sharing my Vipassana meditation practice. As it was COVID, many didn't have access to in-person, residential retreats. With the help of a design and tech-savvy friend, Connor, I hosted my first 10-day course for friends and family in September 2021. With overwhelmingly positive feedback, I continued hosting these courses every 1-2 months since then.

It became a strong foundation of my practice to also be in a 'teaching' position. I started seeing the importance of my practice in a wider, societal context. 

While I had gone on a few retreats in Thailand since arriving, I felt it was time to circle back and do some longer intensive meditation. To fulfill my initial curiosity in going to South East Asia. 

Through an old friend and teacher from Australia, I heard of a monastery "Wat Sopharam" near Chiang Mai. A student of Ajahn Tong, had opened his monastery to a few foreigners. At that time it was not a very well known place. I arrived in August 2022 and immediately felt at home in the daily Dhamma classes where Ajahn Puttar explained Vipassana meditation in such a clear, logical and simple way. The practice here was completely self-motivated and it was very different from the bootcamp style retreats I had been going to.

 

Ajahn stressed the importance of 'seeing who we are' when there are no externally imposed rules. The practice here was a more open-awareness style of the Mahasi-noting technique in the four foundations of mindfulness (Satipatthana). The personalised tweaking, emphasis on every moment (not just concentrated formal meditation), and exchanges with very experienced practitioners helped me advance a lot in my practice. 

I alternated periods of silent intensive retreat (10-12 hrs daily practice), with 'rest' periods of 4 hrs daily practice where I was talking, giving service and going to daily classes. In rest periods, I also sat in on Ajahn's one-to-one sessions, learning how to listen and interpret practice reports. After three months, my teacher said it was time for me to go out and get more 'life experience'. 

As with all intense periods, it took me a while to integrate the learnings. I always find it important to come back and integrate what we learn in meditation. In my experience, when insight and wisdom deepen, the habits and ways I am used to doing things feel off. The way I relate to work, family, friends, romantic partners. The way I relate to my body, food, nature. The way I think about myself and my place in the world. Patterns I was blind to become apparent and there is a phase of 'relearning how to walk'.

Body and Mind.

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This brings me to the last two years. Since the monastery I am mainly interested in two things. 

Following my curiosity in Body & Mind practices

and

Creating space for and supporting others to discover their curiosity in Body & Mind.

The foundation of my research lies in my formal practice. 1-2 hours of formal meditation daily and 30-60 minutes of movement practice. I think I've spent about 5000 hours doing formal meditation practice now. While time on the cushion is not the be-all-end-all, I've found it definitely helps. 

 

Through my travels and job freedom, I am grateful to have the opportunity to go on deeper dives. I regularly attend meditation retreats which have accumulated to around 7 months on retreat.

I am also curious to meet different ways than what I know. For instance, I spent 3 months in Japan this year where I practiced and stayed with a Soto Zen monk and had the opportunity to train in Aikido, a Japanese martial art for 5 weeks full time. 

On the facilitation side, I've been active in teaching dance in Thailand, Japan, Portugal and Germany.. Ive been working more on a one-to-one basis with students in addition to hosting the 10-Day Basic and 7-week Satipatthana course. I'm also currently in training to become an Embodiment coach - a form of life coaching which includes mindfulness and working with the Body to empower change in one's life. 

A lifelong work.

I take a lot of inspiration from David Whyte words, "Work as a pilgrimage of identity". 

A journey into the unknown, a conversational meeting between inside and outside. 

My path has taken me into the unknown. I had no idea I would find myself a travelling meditation & dance teacher. I have a lot of gratitude towards meditation for giving me the courage and curiosity to orient myself in directions which are continuously emerging.

 

Meditation and dance prepares me to be responsive, and meet the changing immediacy with integrity. Although a trusted companion, I see that I am asked much more than sitting still to live a happy, fulfilling life. As such, I feel my way is to stay engaged and active in life, work and relationships while also giving plenty space and time to Silence & Stillness.

Nancy Stark Smith, a pioneering figure in contact improvisation said "Replace ambition with curiosity". This, I hold close to my heart. Ambition can only take us to a horizon, curiosity can take us beyond it.

Thank you for reading!

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