A few years ago, a new trend swept across the wellness industry. The promise that you could understand the nature of physical and mental phenomena by partaking in this ancient yet somewhat popular meditation technique. Although it has been around for over two thousand years, Vipassana started gaining popularity in the mid-2010s due to its simplicity, high availability, and non-profit nature.
Thousands of popular businesspeople, celebrities and professionals would go on to participate in Vipassana as it allotted them a much-needed break from the bustle of their everyday lives. But what exactly is Vipassana? What are the benefits of partaking in it? How do you do Vipassana and what are some of the best locations that you can visit to experience this exquisite ancient meditation technique? Keep reading to find out.
What is Vipassana Meditation?
Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique that was discovered in India in 500 BC. The word “Vipassana” literally means “to see things as they really are” and teaches us how to understand our internal realities.
When you do Vipassana meditation, you set aside ten days for purifying your mind through self-observation. This is an impartial observation which helps you gain insight into the sources of your dissatisfaction or agitation. Shortly after starting your Vipassana experience, you will start to gain a balanced brain which perceives and understands the truth.
Vipassana meditation thus helps you in dissolving physical and mental tensions, ultimately unravelling the knots within and leading to a more balanced, happy, and positive life – full of harmony, peace, and goodwill for others.
How to Do Vipassana Meditation
Before you can do Vipassana meditation, you first need to undergo a ten-day residential course guided by a teacher to learn the technique. When doing the course, you will stay at the Vipassana facility for the entire ten days. This is so that you can free yourself from worldly distractions. Furthermore, you will be instructed not to read nor write anything and any of your religious practices or other obligations will have to be suspended. Moreover, you will be required to hand over all electronic devices and avoid talking to anyone in and outside the retreat.
During this retreat, you will be required to follow a full meditation schedule with day-to-day instructions and evening discourse expanding on the technique. After successfully completing this course, you will be able to do Vipassana meditation from anywhere in the world.
Throughout the first three days of your course, you will learn how to focus and calm your mind through breathing. You will achieve this by focusing your attention on the natural and fluctuating flow of your breath. This will increase your concentration and turn your mind into a penetrating tool for self-analysis.
It is not until the fourth day that you will learn the Vipassana meditation technique itself. On this day, you will be taught how to systematically shift your attention from your head to your feet and vice versa. As a result, you will be able to observe all the sensations occurring in your body; whether pleasant or not, your only task will be to acknowledge these sensations dispassionately as a fleeting phenomenon.
From days four to ten, all you will learn and practice is the Vipassana meditation technique described above. Through repetition, you will discover the deeply rooted sources of your mental agitation which are manifested through physical sensations. By the tenth day, you will be able to diminish unhappiness and spread peace and harmony to the world. On the tenth day, you will be able to speak to others again and make a transition back to your ordinary life with a feeling of well-being and accomplishment.
Typical Daily Timetable of a Vipassana Student
The following is an example of a typical daily timetable of a Vipassana student:
- 04h00 – 04h30: Wake up and preparation
- 04h30 – 06h30: Individual meditation
- 06h30 – 08h00: Breakfast and rest
- 08h00 – 09h00: Group meditation
- 09h00 – 11h00: Individual meditation
- 11h00 – 12h00: Lunch
- 12h00 – 13h00: Interview with instructor
- 13h00 – 14h30: Individual meditation
- 14h30 – 15h30: Group meditation
- 15h30 – 17h00: Individual meditation
- 17h00 – 18h00: Tea break
- 18h00 – 19h00: Group meditation
- 19h00 – 20h30: Discourse with the teacher
- 20h30 – 21h00: Group meditation
- 21h00 – 21h30: Group Q&A session
Recommended Vipassana Meditation Centres
Now that you know what Vipassana meditation is and how it is done, here are some of the recommended facilities to visit if you have been inspired to take the course.
Dhamma Giri in India
Located in Igatpuri in India; Dhamma Giri is one of the largest Vipassana meditation centres in the world, boasting an impressive 400 individual meditation cells. The term
‘Dhamma Giri’ means “Hill of Dhamma” and is located near the Vipassana Research Institute in Maharashtra, a three-hour drive from Mumbai.
The centre provides the traditional ten-day Vipassana courses alongside several other short and specialised courses for those with a bit more experience. Dhamma Giri also provides teenage courses for boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 19, making it a perfect choice for parents who want to take the course with their teens.
Dhamma Kamala in Thailand
This Vipassana meditation centre is located in Amphur Muang, Thailand. ‘Dhamma Kamala’ translates to “The Lotus of Dhamma” and was the first Vipassana centre to be established in Thailand in 1992.
Similar to Dhamma Giri, this centre primarily offers ten-day courses for Thai speakers but there are other courses available that vary in duration and medium of instruction. The additional courses typically last one day, thirty days or forty-five days. Dhamma Kamala courses are tailored for experienced Vipassana students and can be completed in both Thai and English.
Dhamma Pattana in India
This Vipassana Centre solely conducts courses catered for corporate executives, government officials and other working professionals.
The courses offered by Dhamma Pattna aim to help working professionals deal with the numerous people that they are required to interact with regularly. The centre forms part of the Global Pagoda complex which is located in Gorai, India.
Dhamma Pattana offers ten-day courses which are identical to those offered by regular centres. The only adjustment is that there are additional sets of business-related questions which are addressed during the discourses. This centre is ideal for company wellness programmes and just like all Vipassana retreats; the course, accommodation and food are all free, making this a cost-effective wellness activity for companies.
Harness Harmony From Within with Vipassana
Vipassana is a marvellous meditation technique that definitely deserves a try. With so much chaos in our inner and outer worlds, it would definitely be beneficial to learn a technique that helps you achieve happiness and harmony from within. Sure, it can seem a bit extreme having to hand over your electronics and not talking to anyone except the teacher for ten days but silence can truly be golden. Especially when it comes to meditation.
Except for travel expenses, Vipassana courses are absolutely free! So, what are you waiting for? Book your free Vipassana course today to start improving your wellness. Looking for another unique meditation technique? Try the Wim Hof method!