The 10-day silent meditation course.
Audio version of this post, plus meditation.
While Vipassana has been taught for thousands of years, in the last 50 or so years it has slowly picked up greater global recognition. With this growing interest, I thought I’d write a concise summary for folks who may have heard about Vipassana, but hadn’t had time to do much research yet.
“Vipassana means to see things as they really are.”
Vipassana is a meditation technique rediscovered by Siddhārtha Gautama (better known as Buddha) more than 2500 years ago. Vipassana means to see things as they really are.
When you do a Vipassana meditation course, you’re signing up to do 10 days of silent meditation — meaning you don’t speak for 10 days unless you have a question for the teacher. You simply meditate using the technique taught there. It also includes no use of your phone, no reading or writing, and no eye contact with fellow students for the ten days attending the course. Other than instructions from the teacher and a nightly one hour discourse, the entire course is silent.
During those ten days you learn two forms of meditation — Anapana and Vipassana. Anapana means mindfulness of breathing. With Anapana meditation you learn to observe the sensation of your breath coming in and out of your nose. Anapana is taught first to help sharpen and focus one’s mind. The first three days are dedicated to practicing Anapana.
“On a personal note, I’d like to add, Vipassana is likely the best thing I’ve ever done for myself…”
Once your mind is more focused and calm, on the 4th day you’re taught Vipassana. Vipassana meditation is the act of observing the sensations across the body. While doing Vipassana you simply focus your mental attention on any bodily sensation you feel, systematically going head to toe and toe to head. Your practice of Anapana prepares you to be able to do this.
That’s basically it. Nothing crazy. No mantras, prayers, songs, or fancy tricks. Just meditation for 10–12 hours per day (with breaks in between) and nightly discourse. The video below with S.N. Goenka provides a better explanation than I ever could and more details can also be found on the official Dhamma website.
Lastly, there are Vipassana centers all over the world in any language. Food, bathrooms, and a clean place to sleep is all provided by the course. You don’t need to worry about anything besides following the meditation instructions. All of this for the low, low price of….FREE! The course runs 100% on donations.
On a personal note, I’d like to add, Vipassana is likely the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I have tried nearly every personal development course, concept, or community. It brought me a kind of peace, happiness and focus I never even knew existed!
More details on the benefits of Vipassana in a later blog post but if you have questions now feel free to reach out. I can’t recommend it enough.