“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live”
Before reading about this course, it is advisable to read ‘Vipassana – What? Why? How?‘ in order to understand more easily and clearly.
The 10 day Vipassana course is the beginner’s course taught at Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, Maharashtra, India. The registration can be done online and offline as well. My course was during the Monsoons and the best time in the Western Ghats of India. Picturesque breath taking views of Dhamma Giri and its surrounding areas is no less than a treat for the soul.
I came across it online and to my surprise it has been there for years without many people not even knowing about it! I decided to go for the beginner’s course to learn the actual technique and see for myself what exactly it is and how it works.
At Dhamma Giri you need to reach one day before the course starts for the registration process. Hundreds of people from all over the World come and queue in for the course. Once the registration process is completed by approx 6:00 pm, everyone is given instructions for the upcoming 10 days.
You need to carry your own set of clothes and necessary items like medicines, toiletries, bedsheet, blankets etc. Although bedsheet and blankets are also provided for those who could not bring along. However, there are certain strict rules to be followed for the entire duration of the course :
- No possession of any reading/writing material
- No sacred/religious stuffs (for chanting, praying etc)
- No music or any kind of electronic gadgets
- No communication among fellow students (Noble Silence). However, you are allowed to speak to the Teachers for any query related to the technique and Dhamma workers(Sevak/Sevika) for any problems in accommodation
- No eye contact with fellow students
- No telling lies
- No harming/killing (even insects!)
- No sexual offence
- No wasting food
- No intervening in the opposite gender areas (Female and Male sections are entirely separated)
If you are able to follow these thoroughly only then you are allowed to be a part of the course. Moreover, there is also good reason about why noble silence is observed throughout the course. Will come to that later.
There is a huge gong that rings at the exact timings of the day (punctuality is nailed like anything!). The entire course is FREE of cost! Yes! The accommodation, facilities, food everything. The only fee/investment is that you have to be true to yourself. At the end of the course, if you feel benefited then you may donate something completely at your own will, if at all you feel like. The routine that needs to be followed for the complete course of 10 days –
4:00 am > Wake up Gong
4:30 am – 6:30 am > Group Meditation
6:30 am – 8:00 am > Breakfast and Bath
8:00 am – 11:00 am > Meditation
11:00 am – 1:00 pm > Lunch and your personal time
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm > Meditation
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm > Tea
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm > Meditation
9:00 pm – 9:30 pm > Q&A with the Teachers
Looks a bit scary isn’t it? But to get the benefits and learn the technique in its pure form, discipline is a must.
The first day was exciting and confusing with all kinds of mixed feelings. The instructions are given in Hindi and English. When settled in the group meditation hall, a sloka in Pali language greets you (by Acharya S.N. Goenka , the founder of the Vipassana Centre).
It is made clear at the beginning itself, that Vipassana is not a religious ritual/practice or dogma or cult or any kind of blind faith. It is a proven science and technique of mind and body. The first thing taught is to just ‘observe’ the breath. The natural free flowing breath, without regulating it or forcing in any way. As mentioned in my previous article, Vipassana is all about seeing things as it is. As Nature has provided. The Universal Law of Nature.
So the first thing is to just observe the breath. Within few minutes you will realize that your mind has already wandered away here and there instead of focusing on the breath. How irritating isn’t it? Your own mind doesn’t listen to you when you tell it to do something, it does its own free will. Your entire body starts to pain for sitting continuously in the same posture.
‘The mind controls us instead of we controlling the mind”
Within few hours you will come across all kinds of thoughts, memories and feelings coming out like a volcano from your inside. These are all the thoughts that have been there buried deep inside from the time you actually have gained sense since childhood.
At this time, some people get annoyed, some become overwhelmed, some cry when not able to take the charge of these thoughts that flow like a river. The solution is simple – you just have to accept and let go!
“Nothing is permanent. Everything arises and passes away – The Universal Law of Nature”
The thoughts, the feelings, the pain everything is impermanent. Towards the end of third day you will be able to focus and observe your breath in a much better way. You feel much relaxed not only at the surface level but from deep within.
Day 2, Day 3 :
Continuous learning to just observe the breath in its natural free form. The duration increases where you can focus on your respiration without the mind wandering anywhere! That’s the first happy and victorious moment of your inner struggle.
Vipassana – the technique is taught. The focus on your entire body from head to toe. The sensations of all kind whether gross or subtle, slowly and steadily you feel every kinds of sensations in the body.
“The sensations are always present, every second in every cells of our body. We just don’t feel it until any kind of pain”
The focus on the free flow increases and with deeper concentration. The mind becomes calmer and much sharper than it used to be. The entire process is like a deep internal surgery to get all negativity like stress, tension, worry, agitation etc out from oneself. In short, to get out from all miseries.
Day 5 to Day 9:
The extreme pain, discomfort slowly fades away and finally you feel much happier and relaxed. Each day is a test and each reward is much sweeter than the previous day. You realize that you can sit in a single posture continuously for over an hour without even flinching an inch! Mentally and physically you become more aware, alert and calm.
The ultimate day when the vow of silence is finally over! You smile. The people around you smile. And that is the moment you connect and feel only love and compassion towards every being. Hatred, anger all gone! A 10 day retreat to a better version of oneself. To know oneself in a deeper way.
Above I have mentioned that noble silence is a must to learn this technique. This is because –
Firstly, when you communicate verbally new thoughts and actions get created every moment which comes in the way of concentration of the mind.
Secondly, every individual experiences different emotions and feelings. So once you start talking, as per the basic human nature you start comparing automatically – ‘oh, he/she is feeling such gross sensations while am feeling only subtle, that means am missing something‘. No! that is not the case. Everyone experiences certain things differently and so this kind of judgement hampers the process of learning this technique in the correct way.
This day Guruji (Acharya S.N. Goenka) explains how to utilize this technique in our day to day life. How to help and spread this awareness to others who really need this approach for his/her betterment.
There is no criteria or category to share knowledge, show kindness, love and compassion. Personally I feel like every individual whether they feel like they are the luckiest person on Earth or the saddest person, everyone should know and learn this technique for the betterment of oneself. Creating peace and harmony and showing love and compassion is never too much for anyone. There is no limit to it. A little gesture goes a long way.
“However many holy words you read, However many you speak, What good will they do you If you do not act on upon them?”
But just by reading and listening from others never help much. The truth needs to be experience yourself, only then it’s a truth for you at the experiential level.
“Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam”
Be Happy 🙂