Recently I attended 10 days vipassana course and hence this blog post. The contents of the post include my understanding of what vipassana (or Vipashyana) means , what is this ten day course about and my experience of staying this long without any contact with the outer world.
First about Vipassana
Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique used to eradicate impurities of your mind and find out root of any kind of misery you generate. Once you start practicing the technique, the path of happiness and peace in your life becomes very clear because you can just avoid the misery way on every occasion in your life. Importantly the technique teaches how to bring your mind under your control. Practicing the technique is the key. There is no time limit on when you can fully achieve the feat of bringing your mind fully under your control, but however far is the destination, it becomes closer if you step towards it. It may take a year , 5 years or entire life but as you practice you will definitely start seeing changes in yourself.
The base of the technique is PRACTICE . Just knowing things at mental level won’t work. The understanding has to be done at body level / physical level. e.g. one knows anger is bad , but he/she becomes angry often and burns in anger for hours even after the incident , reason being he/she just knew “do not become angry” at mental level. Vipassana helps to change one’s behavior pattern by making him more conscious about himself. More you are conscious about yourself more peaceful you become.
Important observation you start to make by practicing vipassana is the root of any type of misery or pain lies with in you rather than outside object. e.g. Someone abuses you by saying some words. Now you become angry and start burning. You will notice that the intensity of this anger is more if the same person says same thing when your are along with your friends. Intensity is much more if the words has come from your own son. You will see that its the same word but all three situations has caused you different intensity of pain. Than means the pain generating factor is not the word, its the reaction you have generated. And you are sole responsible for your own reactions. You will start observing that more and more you are conscious, you gain control over your reactions. But as said before , knowing at mental level these concepts wont help at all. You must practice it. Vipassana is a technique of practicing of how to make one more conscious.
Apparently it’s the same technique used to achieve state of super consciousness. Gautama the Buddha has achieved that feat using it . He later introduced this technique to the world and many people got benefited out of it. But the purity of the technique got lost in last 2500yrs and if you practice wrong technique it wont benefit you and if it wont benefit oneself , one wont practice. This is how the technique got lost from world. Group of people from one country (Burma) kept it in it’s pure form from generation to generation. Visionary people of current time tried to spread this technique in it’s pure form back to entire world. And hence this 10 Days Course.
About 10 days course
The 10 days course is all about learning how to practice Vipassana in it’s true nature. This course focuses on the practicing part of the technique rather than just mental understanding. To understand the true nature of the practice , nothing less than 10 days will work. One must fully undergo the rules of the course to get maximum understanding of the technique. The course is free of cost. Food and Stay for 10 days is free. The course is available at various places in India and throughout the world. I attended the course from Igatpuri (the first centre in India, and is 50km from Nashik, Maharashtra). They accept donations at the end of the course(You get 125% tax exemption on the donation). The course reservation can be done at https://www.dhamma.org
Rules of the course are very tough for one who is especially coming from internet world and has lot of addiction towards social n/w etc.Actually it’s tough for any addicted person. For the due course of 10 days, you won’t be having Mobile,Laptop, TV, Newspaper. You won’t talk (मौन) for 10 days. You will have only breakfast and Lunch (No dinner). You will be sitting by crossing your legs for 12 hrs of the day (you will have 10 mins breaks every 2 hrs). Basically you are completely isolated from happening world.
These 10 days are split into two parts. Anapana for first 3 days where you practice looking at your own breath. You will observe your breath coming in and going out. There is no control over breath etc, its just pure observation of your breath. This helps to concentrate your mind. Remaining seven days are for Vipassana(Pali) /Vipashyana(sanskrit). In vipassana , you use your concentration that you gained , to observe your body from head to toe (by closing your eyes). You will take your mind to every part of the body and observe the sensation coming on it. you will notice that there are sensations all over the body. Some place you will see vibration, other you may observe itching, heat , coolness, pain etc. You must remain in equilibrium towards all kind of sensations. All kinds of impurities of your mind and body comes on the body in form of sensation all round the clock. Staying in equanimity against them is the key to eradication. Well, 10 days are very less for gaining super purity of the mind but these 10 days are very important to understand what is the technique all about and how to practice the same in your life. Throughout the 10 days of meditation, you wont imagine any God, no chanting of any mantra, no imagination of any belief figure etc. The technique is all about reality you observe in yourself and staying in equanimity. That’s all.
Your day starts at 4am in morning till 930pm, of which you will perform 10-11 hrs of meditation practice. Vipashyana timings in day: 4.30am to 6.30am , 8 to 11am , 1 to 5 pm, 6 to 7pm, 8.30-9.15pm. Other : Breakfast-6.30am , lunch- 11am , evening snaks and tea-5pm. Goenkaji’s Video discourse program : 7-8.30pm. This goes for 10 Days. Tenth day is Maitri divas. The schedule on this day has less hours of meditation and you can talk on this day.
There are ~ 15 group halls for meditation of varying seating capacity from 50 to 200. On day zero (arriving day) you will be assigned one meditation group hall and a permanent seat in that hall. You will be given one residential room (shared/individual). Throughout the course you will go to your assigned meditation hall and be seated at assigned sit. You won’t talk with anyone other than your Acharya /Teacher for 9 days. On 10th day from 10am onwards , after Maitri teaching, you can talk with other colleagues (that too only in Canteen and residential quarters). Absolute silence on main road (shanti pathar) of the campus throughout 10 days. Girls and boys have separate halls , canteen and residential quarters. Event if you come with your wife or colleague you wont meet that person for 9 days. Course finishes on 11th day 6.30am in the morning, you will be served breakrfast on last day.
My experience at the Course.
I was practicing this technique (30 min / day) since a year before joining this course. It benefited me a lot. I was having many questions regarding the course and so I attended this course. So the experience shared below is effect of my past practice and the course as well.
First time I learned that sitting peaceful and ideal (doing absolutly nothing, not even moving your body parts ) for more than 2 hrs is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am not kidding! So basically it was very tough course for me. At times I thought to run away. Every evening’s video discourse by Goenkaji is what kept me working for next day. 3rd and 5th day were absolutely tough.
At the end of 10th day I felt I have attended most difficult exam of my life. I felt there is less chaos in my mind than ever before. I felt very fresh and energetic. But I knew this wont last long. My mind has a behavior pattern to cause misery over the time and so I must practice on daily basis to get real benefit out of it. I wished I should have got introduced to this technique earlier in my life (in my twenties). But nevertheless, I got it is what more important for me. I felt thankful to S N Goenka who explains the technique in unique manner and generates belief towards the technique.Once someone has little hope or shradhha towards something ,he tries. The technique is so powerful that if you practice it , it will start giving you fruits of happiness in life. And once you start getting fruits , you will strongly practice it. Same thing started happening to me. Ans so I am thankful for my entire life to S N Goenka. At the same time started feeling greatness towards Gautama, the super human who found the technique.
Purifying ones mind is long process. The long journey becomes shorter only if we step towards it. Importantly the path must be correct. I feel I have found right path , now walking on the path is what remains.
Mangal Ho (be happy)!
(Links : S N Goeka’s Video discourse in Hindi : Vipassana 10 days Hindi discourse ; Course reservation and more about the course : https://www.dhamma.org )