We started our road trip with a 10-day resident course of Vipassana (pronounced ‘vipushna’). As they say, spreading the word about the true dharma helps you earn some brownie points, so we thought , why not. After all, we truly felt (not ‘believed’) that Vipassana helped us learn something new and useful in life.
If you prefer watching rather than reading, then here is our review on Vipassana:
What is Vipassana?
Vipassana is a very old meditation technique (2500 years old) which has his roots in the holy grounds of ‘Bharat’, however with time the technique was moulded into various facts and forms (which are now preachings of different religions) by learned people. The technique in its original form was preserved in Burma by a small group of people who have been passing on the learning generation to generation, ensuring that the teachings are preserved in the purest form.
The technique was brought back to India (and now being spread across the world) by Sh. S.N. Goenka who conducted his first 10 day session in Mumbai, India in July, 1969. In October, 1976, ‘Dhamma Giri’ opened its doors with its first ten-day course for the public in Igatpuri. You can find the detailed chronology of Vipassana developments here.
What does the course look like and it’s schedule?
First, let me start of by telling you that it is tough and not for anyone who is not fully committed to devoting 10 days of his/her life completely to the course. The wake-up bell rings at 4 AM and the schedule looks like this henceforth:
4:30 – 6:30 AM – Meditation in the hall
6:30 – 7:00 AM – Breakfast
7:00 – 8:00 AM – Rest
8:00 – 11:00 AM – Mediation in the hall
11:00 – 11:30 AM – Lunch
11:30 – 1:00 PM – Rest
1:00 – 5:00 PM – Meditation in the hall
5:00 – 5:30 PM – Tea with light snack (literally, very light)
5:30 – 6:00 PM – Rest
6:00 – 9:00 PM – Mediation in the hall
9:00 PM – Off to Bed
If you are wondering of any typographical errors above, there are NONE.
Yes, you actually wake up at 4 AM everyday for 11 days (its a 10 day, 11 night course)
Yes, the breakfast is served at 6:30 AM
Yes, 11 AM is the time for the last major meal of the day
Yes, for 10 days, you would be meditating for 12 hours a day.
And did I forget to tell you, you have to observe noble silence for these 10 days. (Noble silence means, no talking to your peers, not even in actions or in writing)
Who should go for the course?
If you would have asked me this question in between the course when I would have completed 5 days, I would have said, NO ONE. But luckily I stuck around. My answer did change post that.
I think it’s a course for EVERYONE, but if I have to prioritise, I would put it in the following order:
1. Someone who is superstitious and is too stuck or bound to his religion and believes that chanting The Almighty’s name all day everyday is the key to ultimate happiness and success.
2. A more professional person whose mind wanders a lot and finds difficulty in focussing on the matters at hand
3. Everyone else
What is the most difficult part?
Waking up at 4 AM in the morning – NO
Eating less and bland food for 10 days straight – NO
Not talking to anyone – Hmm.. NO
Dedicating yourself to really learning the technique and not thinking about leaving the course mid-way – Yes, I think this part wins :)
Would you see a different yourself after the course?
In highest probability, NO
Please understand that this is a course, and not a transformation program. It is like going to do and MBA. Do you graduate as the CEO of a multi-national company? No. But at the end of the course, do you think it added value and was useful? Yes.
Similarly, please don’t expect that these 10 days are going to transform you as a person and you will come out sharper and have a different view to life. The course teaches you a lot and you will come out more learned but you have to practice those learnings in real life to actually become a better person. If you practice Vipassana after the course, I feel that 6 months down the line, you would definitely see a better yourself.
In short, don’t think of Vipassana as a 10-day technology free vacation with free food and accommodation.
Think of it as one of the most difficult courses you will do in life which will help you in becoming a better person. But to see the results, firstly, you will have to dedicate yourself to the course for 10 days. And secondly, you will have to continue practicing the technique post the course as well.