An Adventure with Meditation

Today, I came back from a 10 day Vipassana meditation course, meditating 10 hrs per day. A great learning experience with purity from the age of Buddha - Render of Peace. Realizing that this experience can only be experienced, pardon me for just being able to present a brief outline about the same.

The Idea

The idea of doing this was more or less, experimental. I read an interview of Microsoft’s newly named ceo (in Feb, 2014), ‘Satya Nadella’:

Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. - The Times of India Bangalore. Feb 05, 2014

This made a mark on me. I took it as an inspiration to broaden my views and take new steps, however small.

The Search

With a planned holiday in hand, I took it as an opportunity to do things that are not possible during regular & hectic work life. An ‘Art of Living’ course seemed the usual commercial option, but I decided to explore more options. I came across ‘Vipassana Meditation - As taught by S.N. Goenka’, while searching on the Internet. I read more about this organization and reviews by independent Bloggers. Finally decided and registered for a 10 day course in ‘Dhamma Bodhi Bodh Gaya Vipassana Centre’.

The Course

The purity and years of experience is reflected in each and every aspect about this course. Every Vipassana center is fully run by volunteers (not paid). The course is 100% free and available for all. Though entirely run on donation, donations are accepted only from old students (who has completed at least one 10 day course). Maximum utilization of time is ensured by a comprehensive, 4 am to 9 pm time table.

Rules are Rules

The first rule is to submit all objects of human distraction at the registration booth. This includes all your electronic items like mobile, laptop, camera, ipod, etc. Even books, paper and pen is not allowed during the course. Here is a brief list of rules applicable for 10 days:

  • Noble Silence: All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind
  • No Physical Contact with anyone
  • The Precepts:
    • to abstain from killing any being (Not even a mosquito)
    • to abstain from stealing
    • to abstain from all sexual activity
    • to abstain from telling lies
    • to abstain from all intoxicants
  • Complete acceptance of the Teacher and the Technique
  • Other Techniques, Rites, and Forms of Worship is not allowed

Comprehensive details about the same can be found here.

The Environment

The Dhamma Bodhi Bodh Gaya Vipassana Centre is surrounded by large farm lands, free from noise. The campus is large and full of trees and gardens. Morning and evenings are refreshing with the chanting of birds. Human noise is hard to hear, except during daily evening discourse (by S.N. Goenka ji). The learning center has all essential facilities and services. Single rooms with attach bathroom, free laundry service, 24 hrs hot water facility, bell rings during each session are to name a few. The enthusiasm of servers, to serve, is really appreciative. Some of the facilities and services depend on the location of the Vipassana center. As of this writing, there are 154 Vipassana centers worldwide. Details about the same is listed here.

People from different ethnic backgrounds, profession and country were present under the same roof to learn this technique of meditation. They all shared the same peace of mind, a thirst to learn and hard work to accomplish the same.

The Experience

On day 1 itself, it was clear that this is not a place for entertainment. In everyday life, we are surrounded with different kind of screens (Mobile, Laptop, TV, etc..). It seems very difficult to live without all of them. Submitting these during registration itself was like taking the first step. Strict rules and tight schedule made it difficult to think about anything else, but meditation. There were times, when it was difficult to concentrate, but as days passed, it became much easier than thought. Towards the end of training, how to apply the benefits into day to day life is also taught. On day 10, the rule of noble silence is removed to help students return back to normal social life.

Today, was my first day after this course, and I do see some minor improvements and am optimistic about future with regular practice. A 10 day course is not enough to master this technique, but rewards are there at every step. Let me know, what do you think about this in comments.

And as always, Thanks for reading :)