In December 2019, I attended my first Vipassana Meditation camp. It’s a 10-day process of mental purification, unlike anything I’d experienced. In this blog post, I’m going to share my in-depth experience.
What’s Vipassana meditation?
Vipassana — that means to see things as they really are — is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2,500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.
Why’s the course 10 days long?
Actually, the 10-day course is the minimum; it provides an essential introduction and foundation to the technique. To develop in the practice is a lifetime job. Experience over generations has shown that if Vipassana is taught in periods of less than 10 days, the student doesn’t get a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique.
How long is the meditation process?
The course has about 14 hours of meditation throughout the day, interspersed with regular breaks and rest periods.
What language is used in the course?
The teaching is given through recordings of Guru S.N. Goenka, speaking in English or Hindi, together with a translation into a local language. Language is usually no barrier for someone who wants to join a course.
The code of discipline
The foundation of the practice of moral conduct. It provides a basis for the development of the concentration of mind, and purification of the mind is achieved through the wisdom of insight.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:
- To abstain from killing any being;
- To abstain from stealing;
- To abstain from all sexual activity;
- To abstain from telling lies;
- To abstain from all intoxicants
All students must observe the noble silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. It means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with a fellow student, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.
Can Vipassana meditation cure physical or mental diseases?
Many diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning Vipassana with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake that never works.
People who try to do this waste their time because they’re focusing on the wrong goal. They may even harm themselves. They’ll neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease.
How much does the course cost?
Each student who attends a Vipassana course is given this gift by a previous student. There’s no charge for either the teaching or for room and board.
All Vipassana courses worldwide are run on a strictly voluntary donation basis. At the end of your course, if you’ve benefited from the experience, you’re welcome to donate for the coming course, according to your volition and your means.
Why does the Vipassana meditation course run on donations?
The idea is to remove mental impurities. False ego is one of the mental impurity that needs to be removed. By offering the course as a donation removes the false ego as you’ve to live like a hermit for 10 days. The hermits live on whatever they’re offered which leads to a minimalist lifestyle.
Is it related to any religion?
Strictly NO. It’s only related to pure spirituality. In fact, you’ve to leave all your religious beliefs and embrace spirituality for these 10 days.
There’re many Vipassana centers throughout the world. The courses are frequently held at many locations as arranged by local students in those areas.
What happens during a typical 10-day course?
The first three days are spent on taming the mind to focus. Focusing on the breath helps to focus the mind and keeps it from running all around.
On the fourth day, the technique to focus on your entire body is introduced. This helps to focus on sensation in our outer and inner body. As Vipassana works on a cellular level, you become aware of various sensations to which you don’t have to react. This goes on until the ninth day. In short, you just have to be a spectator to tour sensations and not participate in them.
On the last day, you’ll be taught a typical loving-kindness meditation. The purpose of this meditation is to wish all the species in this universe well.
What’s the most difficult part of the Vipassana meditation course?
Although what’s difficult is so subjective but there’re a couple of things that seem quite general to a lot of students.
The biggest difficulty is to stay with yourself for 10 days in complete silence. In this busy world where we’re always running and always connected through social media, it may get extremely difficult to spend time just by ourselves.
As you sit down with closed eyes, the entire life runs like a movie in your mind. Many events, mostly undesired or unpleasant ones, don’t let you sit in silence. All your mistakes and sins come in front of you, and you may get extremely emotional. This is the reason many leave in a couple of days as they can’t handle the pressure.
Another difficulty is leaving behind religion and rituals. Vipassana is about understanding and applying pure dharma i.e. pure spirituality. As religion is completely different from spirituality, students find it difficult to accept this concept.
Sitting for long hours, noble silence, simple food, and a lot of unlearning may be a difficult part for many.
It’s only by taking a disciplined approach and by making maximum effort that a student can fully grasp the practice and benefit from it. The emphasis during the course is on work. A golden rule is to meditate as if one were alone, with one’s mind turned inward, ignoring any inconveniences and distractions that one may encounter.
Finally, you should note that their progress in Vipassana depends solely on their own good qualities and personal development and on five factors — earnest efforts, confidence, sincerity, health, and wisdom.
If this blog post inspired you, please register here for a course that’ll change your life forever.