People often tell me before considering Vipassana or starting a regular meditation practice that they find it extremely difficult to meditate. Let’s be clear, I don’t know anyone who was born able to meditate (okay, I guess Gautama Buddha). Meditation isn’t a magical ability that some are born with and others not. Meditation is a skill, just like playing soccer, cooking, playing an instrument, or being a leader. It requires practice and proper training.
While I have been meditating for a while now, I wasn’t a strong meditator at first. Only after I did my first Vipassana course was I able to meditate diligently for long periods. Before that I was meditating, like many others, for 10–15 minutes a day. Most of that time struggling to focus my mind for more than a few consecutive seconds! At that point I wasn’t well taught how to meditate. I picked it up initially as a teenager from my uncle at the end of a few yoga classes and later via books and apps. Unfortunately none of these resources provided sufficient direction or the proper environment to really learn how to work with my mind.
Our minds are incredibly powerful. Perhaps the most powerful, complex objects in the entire universe. Meditation, to a certain degree, means being able to control this object.
But controlling our minds is a bit like cowboys trying to ride a bull at the rodeo. The bull doesn’t want to be controlled by anyone. Same with our minds. We have given it free rein our entire life and it has no interest in changing that. If you don’t believe me, next time you want to ask for a raise or you have to make a public presentation, try to tell your mind not to stress about it.
But with proper training and sufficient time to practice, we can control our minds. And that’s exactly what Vipassana provides. Ten days of 10–12 hours of practice per day with guidance that has been used in hundreds of thousands (or millions) of courses globally. If you’re diligent about the practice and go in with a determined attitude to learn the technique, it will happen. You’ll learn how to meditate and be able to meditate on your own as you desire.
Imagine for a moment having twelve hours to spend on any one thing you want to do. You’d likely be able to create or accomplish whatever that thing is. Now imagine having twelve hours for ten days straight. A lot can get accomplished or learned in that period of time. And that is what it takes to begin to get your arms around controlling the mind. Focused, intense effort. The best part is that it’s available to anyone. You don’t need to be rich or some kind of genius. Your religion, sex or political views don’t matter. You simply need the desire to learn and a strong determination. The course will show you the way.