What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of meditation? Maybe listening to chimes, concentrating on your third-eye, chanting in a lotus position, or some other clichés related to different practices.
The truth is – meditation can take a lot of different forms. However, among the various types of meditation in the world today, Vipassana method taught by S.N. Goenka is quite unique.
It’s no surprise that over a past few decades, interest in the science of meditation has gone through the roof.
Guided meditation practices, videos, eBooks and tutorials have filled up the internet like never before.
But why is it that you can’t find someone to teach you Vipassana online?
Because this is not something you learn from books, videos or podcasts.
I’m sure you’ve heard many people share their stories how a 10-day Vipassana course brought about some profound changes in their lives. You’ve always wanted to find that endless reservoir of your own, haven’t you?
So, what do you think it takes to sit for a course of such a kind?
1. It requires a minimum of 10 days to learn Vipassana
If you want to learn the technique of Vipassana meditation, you’ve got to spare 10 days out of your daily schedule – no questions asked. For those ten days, you’ll be required to remain within the area of the course site, having no contact with the outside world. Don’t worry about physical requirements of room and board, Dhamma helpers will always be at your service to make sure you’re reasonably comfortable.
2. Vipassana courses are absolutely free of cost
Yes, you heard it right. Vipassana courses won’t cost you a penny. Yet, having said that, you’re free to make a donation at your own will at the end of the course. According to S.N. Goenka, teaching meditation is a service to the humanity, thus it must never become a business. This is why courses and centers operating all over the world are run on a total nonprofit basis. No teacher receives any direct or indirect remuneration for the work offered.
3. Vipassana is the exact same technique taught by the Buddha
Vipassana is the essence of the teaching of the Buddha which means “insight” in ancient Pali language of India. The actual experience of the truth – not in a mere emotional, devotional or intellectual level – the Buddha himself experienced it with the practice of this meditation. With detailed instructions on how to practice Vipassana in order to reach the goal attained by the Buddha himself, this ancient meditation technique has everything it takes to lead you out of all the sufferings.
4. You need to follow The 5 Precepts strictly
The 5 precepts are the basic grounds of Vipassana. If you can’t follow all of them, you better not apply for the course. These precepts are the basic codes of morality that include celibacy, abstention from all intoxicants, false speech, killing and stealing. Adhering to these codes of morality during the entire course is a must, however after the course, you have all the freedom in the world to be the master of your own will.
5. No talking for 10 days
“Are you serious?” – you might be thinking right now, but yeah this is something everyone has to abide by once they get on with the course. You have to seriously maintain complete noble silence for the first nine days of the course, although you’re free to talk about your problems with the teacher and management. Now, just because you can’t talk doesn’t mean you’ll get to communicate making gestures. This is where many people slip up, but that’s the way it is.
6. Vipassana doesn’t deal with any kind of Mantras or Prayers
Vipassana is an art of living, a way of life – there’s no place for any mantra or prayer in it. You need to drop all your prayers and mantras if you happen to be practicing any in your daily life. Throughout the entire course, you’ll be focusing on nothing else but your own pure breath and bodily sensations.
7. Vipassana has nothing to do with Buddhism or any other religious practices
Vipassana is free from any kind of sect or dogma. People from various religions and no religion have found the meditation truly helpful and beneficial. Even though it is the essence of what the Buddha taught, there’s nothing Buddhist about it.
8. Vipassana is super Scientific
Vipassana is a practical way to examine the reality of one’s own body and mind. With right kind of concentration and awareness, you’ll discover and solve whatever problems lie hidden within you. This will also help you tap into your unused potential to use it for your own good and the good of others. All in all, it is the science of your own mind. The more you observe, the more you get benefitted from it.
9. It’s tougher than you can ever imagine
Forget phone calls, messages and emails – you can’t even read or write anything. What’s more, the schedule is super tight. All you have to do is meditate from 4am to 9pm according to the instructions given, luckily you’ll get short breaks for meals and rest.
10. Vipassana Meditation is also taught in prisons
Over the last 25 years, Vipassana meditation has been successfully offered within prisons located in India, Israel, Mongolia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K., Myanmar and the United States and Canada. Such 10-day courses are held within the walls of the prisons with teachers and volunteers living with the prisoners throughout the course.
If you want to dig deeper, taking the course is the only way. But if you’re still in dilemma whether or not to go for it, I’d suggest you read “Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation” by William Hart.
Though the book isn’t a do-it-yourself manual, it can highly inspire you to take that first step out of suffering.