Recently I did an incredible trip. A trip I always wanted to do, to a place very close to my heart. Literally, close to my heart.
It was a 10-day trip, away from the various sounds of frequent notifications, away from the beep, the chirp, the whistles, away from the noise pollutions of the nearby city, away from reading, writing and talking. It was a trip made in Complete Silence to the depths of my own mind.
I did a 10 days Vipassana meditation.
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.
In my humble understanding, it is a 10 days meditation course, done in complete silence, where you get to experience oneself, first through the breath and then through various physical sensations.
Also what I love the most about Vipassana is that it is free from any labels. It doesn't belong to a specific religion, community, sect, god or anything. Vipassana teaches a universal path to enlightenment.
This technique was taught by Gautama Buddha. It doesn't mean that it belongs to a religion. "This is a non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation."
This intensive meditation requires a lot of discipline and dedication. 10 days of noble silence is not as easy as one might think. Noble silence includes, not talking to fellow meditators, no gestures, not even an eye contact. And meditate or rather sit at a place for hours is also not as easy as it sounds. A weak mind might want to run away from such a situation.
Also, you have to follow 5 precepts. During the period of the course, one has to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants.
The day starts at 4am. Gong will be sounded at 4am. And the meditation starts from 4.30 am.
This is how a day during the Vipassana course looks like.
If you are still 'worried' about food and other things during this meditation course, healthy vegetarian food was provided for everyone. As one is going there to meditate and not for a culinary journey, one might not find what they 'crave'. Hopefully, at the end of this course, when one learns more about oneself, he/she will be free from all cravings 😉
Very neat accommodation with attached bathroom is provided on twin sharing basis. Bed, pillow, bedsheet, pillow cover are provided. Men and women have separate living quarters. Also as per the discipline and rules, Complete segregation of men and women is to be maintained. Though you are sharing the room with someone, interacting with them is not permitted. Finally, it comes how self-disciplined you are, from not talking to your roommate when you are in your own twin-sharing room!
This is a step by step meditation technique. I have never attended a meditation course or class before. Also never been able to meditate not even for a short time. But the silent environment and group meditation helped me to focus on the one aim- to try and meditate properly. And the step by step approach, starting with concentrating on the breath and then narrowing down the point of concentration further, also helped me.
Maintaining noble silence for 10 days wasn't a problem for me. But not everyone would share this same feeling as mine. I could see the happiness at the end of the course when finally everyone was allowed to speak. I guess many of them were waiting for that moment to break the silence.
But this silence gave me a lot of good things. Ideas and positive thoughts were the first things that I noticed, when I was maintaining the silence. They were flooding my mind. Even though I could not meditate properly because of these thoughts, I was happy that my thoughts were happy and inspiring.
The only problem I had to face was not food, not accommodation, not the discipline, not the noble silence, not 'no reading no writing ' rule, but the difficulty to quiet my mind and to concentrate on my meditation. It was a great experience when I accepted the fact and let go of the frustrations of not being able to concentrate properly.
Update : I even published a book, just after 6 months of doing Vipassana meditation. The idea of the book came during meditation including the title of the book. The book can be found here
Thousands and thousands of people have benefitted from this technique in this modern days. This technique will help one to understand more about oneself. Through self-discovery, one finds the root causes of their problems and thus becomes a better person. This meditation technique is taught even in prisons and helping a lot of prisoners in various prisons in various parts of the world. This technique is changing their lives. If such deep-rooted hatred can be influenced, this technique must be effective.
Since the time of Buddha, Vipassana has been handed down, to the present day, by an unbroken chain of teachers. Although Indian by descent, the current teacher in this chain, Mr. S.N. Goenka, was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar). While living there he had the good fortune to learn Vipassana from his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin who was at the time a high Government official. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. Since then he has taught tens of thousands of people of all races and all religions in both the East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him meet the growing demand for Vipassana courses.
All courses are run solely on a donation basis. All expenses are met by donations from those who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity. Neither the Teacher nor the assistant teachers receive remuneration; they and those who serve the courses volunteer their time. Thus Vipassana is offered free from commercialization.
I know you are too busy in your life and can't get a 10 day off. Meetings and appointments are important, deadlines are deadly, commitments cannot be broken.
Yes, you have been living that life for long enough. All you need is just 2 weeks from your life. What if the years to come will change for better? Why don't you just try?
Vipassana centers can be found all over the world. If you are lucky, you can find the centre very near to your place.
You can find all the locations from this link: Locations
All you need to do is, find if there is any '10 day course for the new students' near your centre. If there is one, apply for it and register yourself. Once you register, wait for the starting day of the course, and reach there in the afternoon on that day. You really need not have to carry anything except a few pairs of loose clothes and toiletries. Probably a water bottle too.
All your electronic gadgets, books, writing materials, pen paper, notebook etc have to be deposited with the management on the First day itself. After that, you will live the life of a monk/nun for the next 10 days and practice Vipassana.
So If you think you have a strong mind to follow the discipline, if you have at least 12 days to spare from your busy life, do experience this amazing technique.
Depending upon the center, one gets to meditate in the cells of beautiful Pagoda like this.
For more/all information: Vipassana International Website
Have you done Vipassana meditation before?