Vipassana? Oh my gosh, that torturous meditation technique that requires you meditate for 100 hours over a course of ten days and take a vow of Noble SILENCE? ‘Er, no thanks’ I hear many of you cry.
But what if that torturous course was actually designed to lift you out of your misery?
What if ten days of both torturous and enlightening experiences enabled you to transcend your suffering once and for all? Sounds great, right?
Upon arriving at the somewhat dilapidated Vipassana centre in the District of Uttar Pradesh, North India, my dreams of a sprawling, beautiful, mountainous ‘retreat’ were soon extinguished as I was turfed out of the rickshaw by the driver, and upon him clocking my expression, he laughed loudly and asked if I would prefer him to turn around. He would give me a good rate for my return journey after all.
‘Nothing worth having comes easily right?’ I defiantly declared, as I grabbed my backpack. This was after all, going to be a journey to end all journeys. Or so I’d heard.
Fast forward eleven days and I can quite honestly say that, not only was that the journey to end all journeys, it was also, hands down, the most profound and torturous experience of my entire life.
But isn’t it only learning to be still and sitting down all day? Well yes, but count in ten hours of sitting in a cross-legged position all day without a back support, 17 hr long days with 6.5 allocated hours of sleep a night, a 4am wake-up call with a loud gong, two small and simple meals a day, noble silence, no phone, no exercise, no reading, no writing, no communicating and sharing rooms with silent strangers, it made for a somewhat challenging ten days.
Oh, and did I mention? NO COFFEE. So why on earth would anyone put themselves through that?
Well friends, have you ever felt like you were drowning in your own thoughts?
Suffocating in the great abyss of your own mind?
Confused about the direction in which to steer the great, magical mystery tour of life?
Vipassana has got your back.
So what is Vipassana?
Vipassana, which means ‘to see things as they really are’, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.
Rediscovered by Gotama Buddha some 2500 years ago, to this day, the technique has been preserved in its original, authentic form and passed down by a chain of unbroken teachers.
Vipassana is a non-sectarian technique (i.e free from religious and political involvement) that aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
A technique of self-transformation through self-observation, Vipassana focuses on the deepest relation between mind and body, experienced directly through a disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body.
The Vipassana practitioner is able to journey to the depths of his being to unroot and dissolve the impurities of the mind. Cool, huh?
No doubt about it, the course requires hard and serious work, but for the disciplined practitioner the benefits are bountiful.
In just ten days (a mere DROP in the ocean on the timeline of this life) one has the potential to experience the wonders of an equanimous and balanced mind. Combined with a whole lot of love and compassion that the course so wonderfully inspires, the whole experience makes for a somewhat nourishing and dreamy time of sorts.
Having successfully completed ten (non-craving, non-aversion) days of Vipassana, I can honestly, hand-on-heart say that this teaching is like no other.
Completely pure in it’s intention, sincere in its offering and transformational in its technique, Vipassana is undoubtedly a game-changer.
Difficult? Yes. Life changing? Totally.
The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses, offered at centres all around the world (for Island folk, the closest centre can be found in Herefordshire, UK) during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.
There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. Expenses are instead met by conscious donation, given by people who have successfully completed the course, experienced for themselves the wonderful benefits of Vipassana and wish to extend the opportunity for others to also benefit from this teaching!
Curious to know more? Head here for all things Vipassana! It might just be the best thing you ever did.