I recently got back from ten days of silence while practicing the Vipassana meditation technique at the Woori Yallock Vipassana centre ‘Dhamma Aloka’, which is just over an hours drive from Melbourne, Australia.
I have done quite a few ten day courses now, and it really amazes me every time how much lighter and better I feel afterwards. It is the most satisfying feeling to know that no matter how bad things may seem in my life or what is going on – I always have a way to kind of ‘clean out my brain’ and totally just hit the reset button on my life.
Many people I speak to often say how they would find it too hard to not speak for ten days – and I always assure them that this is really the easy part! The hardest part is dealing with yourself – and truly seeing how insane your mind really is! ha ha…
With no speaking, and no eye contact or body gestures to communicate, the first course is often a real challenge for most people. However the more courses you do, and the more established you get in the Vipassana meditation technique the better you are able to observe your mind and stop reacting to its strength. The strength of the mind has been compared by some to that of a wild elephant – and I can assure you once you do a ten-day Vipassana course you will totally agree!
A life without boredom, stress, anger and negativity can seem kind of too good to be true – however it really is possible. From my own personal experience I can assure you that if you really want a happy peaceful life – and to walk a path that does lead to enlightenment then this meditation is for you.
How the Vipassana Meditation Technique works.
The Vipassana meditation technique has 3 different types of meditation involved. The first is ‘anapana’ which is simply focusing on your respiration from your nostrils, and then eventually the sensations of the breath on the area above your upper lip. This is the first type of meditation you will learn. This technique is to help you remain aware, and help sharpen your mind before you learn ‘vipassana’ on day 4.
The Vipassana meditation technique is the observation of all the different types of sensations all over your body. It’s the actual Vipassana meditation technique (the free flow) in particular which does the work. By constantly observing that the sensations on your body are constantly changing – it changes the habit pattern of your mind to stop reacting to sensations and thus observing life rather than reacting to it. On the second last day of the course you will learn ‘metapana’ which is the focusing on pleasant sensations and thoughts of love, peace and happiness.
I remember my first course when I learnt the Vipassana meditation technique for the first time – and it literally astounded me. I won’t go into it any more than that, because it’s important to not talk about your meditative experience with other people so as to not give them high hopes and ‘crave’ a certain experience of what it is like. All I will say however is that if you fully understand the Vipassana meditation technique properly – I guarantee you that you’ll come back for more!
There are a number of different types of meditation and I’m not here to say what is right or wrong – however of all the different types I’ve tried none have been as powerful as the Vipassana meditation technique. Because the meditation works on the deepest level of the sub-conscious mind (the level of sensation) it therefore makes sense to me why it is so powerfully transforming. They have introduced the Vipassana meditation technique into prisons in India, and are literally transforming criminals into good people – because the meditation works on the deepest level of a person’s being.
Vipassana meditation was discovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and is fundamentally about seeing the world as it really is – in every moment – in present reality.
The technique trains you to become alert to the slightest change of sensations in your body – and thus re-trains the habit pattern of your mind and stops you from reacting to life, and to start just observing it instead (a much easier way to live).
You accept life as it is occurring and not as you would like it to be. You accept reality for what it is – reality!
The truth of reality is that no-one can make you sad, and no-one can make you angry. No-one can make you happy either! You are your own master – and this meditation gives you the wisdom to fully understand that. You are the captain of your ship – and your life. No-one else.
The meditation courses have very strict rules which you must adhere to. These rules are set in place for a very good reason, and it is very confusing in your first course why this is. The more courses you do over time however – you soon begin to understand the meditation better and why these rules are in place. If you’re thinking of giving this meditation a go – just let go of your judgements for now and give it the trial for the ten days.
I remember in my first course I was thinking to myself ‘this is absolutely insane’ why are we all doing this! However, by the end of the 4th day after we actually learned the Vipassana meditation it all became clear. If you are about to sit a ten-day course for the first time definitely ensure you stay to the very end of the course so you can truly understand the meditation properly. It can also be harmful to you if you leave before the end of the course as well.
Last year I sat a ‘Satipatthana Sutta‘ which is a nine day course in which you are permitted to read one of Buddha’s discourses and also take notes. I sat this course in the birthplace of Buddha – which was in Lumbini in Nepal. If you are travelling to Nepal to do a Vipassana meditation course I definitely recommend going to Kathmandu’s centre if you are from the west. They have much better facilities to suit Western people. If you have been to countries like Nepal or India I’m sure you have a good idea of what I’m talking about.
The Vipassana meditation technique has no doubt changed my life for a number of reasons. I basically have:
- Increased concentration.
- Better relaxation.
- Better memory.
- A happier perspective on my whole life!
Is the Vipassana meditation technique bad for your body?
Many people believe the Vipassana meditation technique is bad for their body – and I can definitely understand why people believe this may be so. Sitting cross legged – particularly for one hour without changing your posture can be very challenging for some people. The amazing thing I discovered in my first course however was actually how the pain is in reality never permanent. It comes and goes and never continually hangs around. This is the habit pattern of the mind – it is constantly changing!
For those who are not practising the Vipassana meditation technique correctly I can definitely see why they may think it is bad for your body. If you trust in the meditation and the teaching of ‘annica’ (which means impermanence) you will soon no longer be reacting to all of the often quite intense physical pain.
I actually damaged my knees quite badly while snowboarding about 10 years ago, and at times during a ten-day course I often think that I simply must be further hurting the injury. Miraculously however the pain always just goes straight away afterwards. I get a quick massage after a ten day course and my body is back to normal immediately, and I’m left feeling more peaceful, happier and content! So if you’re worried about hurting your body from my experience I will say to you – just put aside your judgements, trust in the teaching and you will be fine. This is coming from someone with first hand experience of a chronic knee injury.
The Vipassana meditation technique has without a doubt changed my life and I highly recommend it if you are considering doing it. There is no charge for the ten-day course – however if you wish to you can pay for SOMEONE ELSE to do a course at the end of your course. To find the closest Vipassana meditation course as taught by S.N. Goenka, and to book a course simply click here – www.dhamma.org.
Thanks for reading my post about the Vipassana meditation technique! I hope you gained some insight into this awesome practice!