Vipassana: 10 days of silence – Part 1

Recently (Nov 1 – 12th, 2022), I attended a 10 day residential silence Vipassana Meditation retreat.

This post is the first part of the two parts that I will write on Vipassana. Part 1 will be an introduction to the Vipassana in a Q&A format. Part 2 will be about my personal experience.

Part 1 – Introduction to Vipassana

What is Vipassana?
The word Vipassana literally means to see things as they really are. The Vipassana meditation is an ancient meditation technique that was rediscovered by Gotama, the Buddha & is now popular across the world as taught by S. N. Goenka.

What are the (claimed) benefits of doing Vipassana?
The technique aims for the total eradication of the mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.

What Vipassana is not?

  • It is not a rite or ritual based on blind faith.
  • It is neither an intellectual nor a philosophical entertainment.
  • It is not a rest cure, a holiday, or an opportunity for socializing.
  • It is not an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

What Vipassana is?

  • It is a technique that will eradicate suffering.
  • It is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way.
  • It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society.

How to learn Vipassana?
By attending a 10 day residential silence Vipassana course. This is the considered the most authentic & effective way to learn / experience.

How does the 10 day course look like?
The 10 day course is a minimum. It provides an essential introduction & foundation to the technique.
* The day begins at 4AM with the wakeup bell and continues till 9PM.
* About 10 hrs of meditation daily
* Breakfast at 630AM, Lunch at 11AM, Snacks at 5PM, No dinner
* Every evening at 7:00 p.m. there is a videotaped lecture by the Teacher, S.N. Goenka, which provides a context for meditators to understand their experience of the day.

What is the course fee?
No fees. The food, the accommodation & any other basic necessities expenses is taken care by the donations of the old students who have benefited from the course. At the end of the course, if you so wish you are allowed to make a donation for future students.

What are the rules of the 10 day silence?

  • Noble silence: No speech, no writing or reading, no communication with fellow meditators using gestures, sign language, no phone/laptop/gadget usage. No listening to music
  • Abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants

What can be done?

  • One can talk to the teachers regarding the technique
  • One can speak with the Dhamma servers (volunteers) about any logistical issues.

What is the registration process?

  • Visit the website dhamma.org
  • Browse the different locations (100+ centres in India, 235+ centres all over the world)
  • The only way to start is by doing a 10 day course. Select the appropriate location, date & 10 day course
  • Fill the form, necessary details and submit the application
  • If confirmed, you will receive an email of confirmation. There are multiple confirmations that happen subsequently over phone & email.
  • That’s all!

Things to carry to the centre

  • Your medication if there is
  • Water bottle
  • Bed sheet and rug
  • Alarm clock
  • Torch
  • Mosquito repellent cream
  • Toiletries

How and why Vipassana works?

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

Photos

References:

Part 2: My 2nd Vipassana Meditation 10 day silence experience

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