If your meditation practice needs a boost, why not try a Vipassana Meditation retreat?
10 day silent retreats are offered in so many locations now – yes, Vipassana meditation has really taken off! It’s so popular at the moment which is really wonderful!
(If meditation can bring about a more peaceful world (I believe it can) then surely we’re in with a chance!)
The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really and is also known as Insight Meditation. It’s a process whereby the root causes of suffering – craving, aversion and ignorance can be eliminated through their first being revealed clearly to us. This knowledge and understanding leads to their cessation – ie. an absence of suffering and finally, enlightenment.
Vipassana Meditation is a process of self-observation and when learning the technique, participants start with observing the breath as it naturally is without doing any forcible inhalations or exhalations. This has the effect of increasing the mind’s concentration and focus. Body scans are then implemented whereby the changing sensations felt on and in the body are observed in a highly concentrated state.
In this state of highly sharpened awareness, the impermanence of all phenomena becomes clearer to us and we see that this includes our suffering. The way in which we react habitually to certain events that happen in our everyday life is also revealed, allowing us to choose new and more healthy ways to react to everyday occurences.
S.N. Goenka (Goenkaji) who trained in Burma (taught by Sayagyi U Ba Khin) and Goenkaji’s wife Ilaichidevi Goenka teach a non-sectarian Vipassana Meditation practice that is offered on a donation basis worldwide. More details are available on their dhamma.org website.
S.N. Goenka calls his Vipassana Meditation retreats neither a holiday nor an intellectual or philosophical entertainment, nor an escape or an experience where blind faith is required. I would agree with this! (and it’s certainly not a holiday.. but perhaps more rewarding than a holiday..) His courses are offered in 10 day or 3 day durations. 10 days in considered the minimum length of time necessary to fully learn the technique of Vipassana Meditation, so new students are not offered a 3 day option, they first must do a 10-day to be able to come back for a 3-day course. Other Vipassana Meditation courses are available, I’m only speaking of the S. N. Goenka course as that is the one with which I am familiar. There are thankfully so many meditation centers around now which is simply fantastic!
A 10 day Vipassana Meditation retreat might not suit the casual or uncommited meditator! It can be quite challenging. Complete silence, a vegitarian lifestyle and simple accomodation help the students to fulful five precepts of not killing, stealing, engaging in sexual activity, telling lies or taking intoxicants. This prevents disturbances to the mind which could put the students off their practice.
It took me many years of meditation before I felt ready to commit to embarking on a 10-day Vipassana Retreat. I found it so beneficial that after I had completed it, I wished that I had done it a lot sooner! If you are considering signing up – go for it without hesitation – you won’t regret it!
This article is dedicated to S.N. Goenka. May all beings be happy.
For tips on creating a daily meditation practice, please see my meditation motivation book.
Mia Randall (MettaMia) is a regular meditator and passionate advocate of the health benefits of meditation. Mia has a degree in psychology and can often be found writing and blogging on the subjects of meditation and Buddhism and time management. She writes to bring joy and inspiration to herself and others.
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