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Vipassana: The purest level of meditative experience

When was the last time you have thought of sitting idle in a room, doing absolutely nothing, and meditating silently? Vipassana, the purest form of meditative experience, will not only detox you from everyday digital lifestyle but will also support to connect you with your inner self!

This blog is my personal journey I had during the 10-day Vipassana camp and I consider Vipassana meditation to be one of the best experiences ever encountered.

Meditation

meditationWhat comes to our mind when we speak about Meditation? A Rishi or Monk sitting in “Padmasana” posture for hours without opening his or her eyes ignoring all the external factors and concentrating on mind and body.

Being from the Tam Bram family, I have always been exposed to various spiritual practices like chanting Vedic mantras, offering pooja’s, etc. but even then, I used to wonder during my childhood what people actually do in meditation 😊

I had heard about Vipassana meditation during my college days and had varied views from my friends during that time and I always wanted to try this sometime in my life but never got any opportunity or proper information. After joining the job it was more difficult as you require 12 days of leave to attend Vipassana sessions.

Background

So, there’s a funny story associated with my first-time Vipassana enrolment! This was the year 2014 and I was probably in the 5th or 6th trimester of my MBA. I literally bunked my classes and enrolled for the Vipassana course and later I was called back by the college due to low attendance/mid exams. Phew!

I could only continue for 5 days but by that time I had already completed 40+ hours of meditation and could sense the new change in me 😊. With the sense of incompletion, I sincerely waited for the next possible opportunity.

And in 2015, I got a break to complete the incomplete journey and I finished my first Vipassana course from Gujrat Centre Dhamma Ambika. In 2016, I again went for the same and attended from Igatpuri, Dhamma Giri.

What is Vipassana?

vipassanaVipassana means to look into things as they are. It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation and was rediscovered by Gautama, the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The Buddha wanted to create an impact in the minds of the people to free themselves from misery and suffering. He discovered that Vipassana was a universal remedy for suffering. This non-religious technique aims for the total elimination of mental impurities and thus result in the highest happiness form of full freedom.

Now, most people when they hear the term Vipassana, they immediately link it to thoughts like – no phone, no TV, no books, no talks, etc. and that’s why probably they don’t enroll or even if enroll, back out in 3-4 days.

Well, it’s much more than that! Yes, you are not allowed to take anything with you but then that’s the sole purpose. Vipassana allows you to spend time with yourself, your body, and your mind. There is a Noble silence to be observed, which means silence of body, mind, and speech!

Vipassana is a self-transformation exercise worked through self-observation and focuses on the connection between mind and body.

It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

Course fees

This Vipassana meditative course is free! Yes, you read it right. Right from the accommodation, food, and the enlightenment meditation sessions, everything is absolutely free!

These courses are run based on donations by old meditators, you can donate whatever you feel post completion of the course, but it is not compulsory. The amount which you donate will be used for further courses. It seems too good to be true but there is no catch involved in this.

The Journey

Vipassana ScheduleThe journey I am mentioning here is the one I attended at Dhamma Ambika being my first-time experience. I reached the centre around 2 O’clock. After I entered the registration area, I was given paperwork to fill out and a cloth bag into which I need to submit my cell phone and other gadgets. Don’t worry, you will get your phone and other stuff back on the last day of the course. The suggestion is to not carry any valuables while going for this course.

I was allotted a room and beddings were given separately, though I had carried a bedsheet and lock & key, but it is not required as they say don’t carry any valuables. The rooms were decent and tidy. You may get a single or shared accommodation depending on the course location. There were separate premises for Men and Women and both sides were not allowed to enter each other premises.

stayingWe had a 30-minute briefing at 7 pm wherein all the rules were explained regarding maintaining Noble silence. You will be allowed to speak only with the teacher and that too during Q&A time and that too if it is essential. After the briefing, there was a short 1-hour meditation session for that night.

Yes, the 1-hour meditation was short as the next 10 days were followed by more than 10 hours of meditation a day.

The meditation sessions are voice-over sessions by Acharya S N Goenka (1924-2013).

Day 1 – 4

During the first 4 days, we were taught ”Anapana’’ meditation. Anapana is the first step in the practice of Vipassana meditation. Anapana means observation of natural, normal respiration, as it comes in and as it goes out. It is easy to learn, an objective and scientific technique that helps develop concentration of the mind.

Vipassana learningInitially, we were instructed to focus on our breath. Feel the breath moving in and out of our nostrils, feeling the sensation caused by our breath in the small triangular area between our nostrils and upper lip. We need to focus our complete attention, on this small triangular spot.

Frankly, I felt bored doing this for the next 3 days. Yeah, the feeling was good but there were a lot of distractions in my mind and my body also started aching. And over that, I was also not allowed to run or exercise. Instructors told it would lead to distraction of mind. Anyways, I followed every instruction with full discipline and surrendered myself to this new form of meditation.

Learning happens when you learn to surrender!

Day 5 – 9

Things changed after the 4th day when we were introduced to actual Vipassana meditation. Now the focus was on the whole body instead of the triangular portion. You fully scan your body from top to bottom and reverse, observe your sensations, and still don’t react to it.

The four days of observing breath will sharpen your mind. The Anapana days were basically preparing you for a deep process, Vipassana!

Just observe, the sensations! You will probably experience mixed feelings, Happy or Sad, but whatever you sense, will not be permanent. This is called the Law of Impermanence. We were doing this repeatedly for the next 5 days.

The only thing that was relatable at that moment was my breath and the sensations going on and off across my body.

Everything was changing, all the time, but it took me some time to realize what are we doing with these body scans. What are we trying to achieve? Why are we doing this for 10 days rather it could have been taught in 2-3 days also. There were a lot of questions in my mind, the answers for which I got after a couple of days.

What is the root cause of suffering?

Craving and aversion are the root cause of suffering. We crave those things which we like and we create an aversion for things that we don’t like. We get angry if we don’t get something which we want which leads further to suffering.

What are we trying to achieve by observing sensations across our bodies?

By observing the sensations in your body, good and bad, and not reacting to them, we are training our minds to be “Equanimous” in all situations of our life. By regular practice, our mind gets trained and it gets a different viewpoint on handling things in our personal and professional life. “Being Equanimous” is the key to live a peaceful life.

“The mind spends most of the time lost in fantasies and illusions, reliving pleasant or unpleasant experiences and anticipating the future with eagerness or fear. While lost in such cravings or aversions, we are unaware of what is happening now, what we are doing now.” ~ S. N. Goenka

“Every sensation shares the same characteristic: it arises and passes away, again arises and passes away. It is this arising and passing that we have to experience through the practice.

We must experience sensation’s nature, understand its flux, and learn not to react to it.” ~ S. N. Goenka

Why are we doing this for 10 days?

vipassanaDuring the practice, the pain in my legs intensified and it led to aversion, but how can you observe the pain. Well, that’s why the practice is for 10 days as it is a deep operation of our mind. This course can be done in 2-3 days, but you won’t get the actual benefit of Vipassana in 2-3 days. You need atleast 10 days to train your mind to be Equanimous.

The course during the initial days was of 30 days, which was the apt time to train your mind for being equanimous but as it is difficult for people to get leave of 30 days, it was reduced to 10 days later.

We need to understand that these aversion and craving are temporary and are ever-changing.  If you start acting to these things in an equanimous way, life can become more peaceful.

Everything in life is temporary even the pain and happiness so just observe and don’t react. Observing, without any craving or aversion. Living in the present is the key.

By the completion of the 9th day, I got a new perspective towards life which I had not got for the last 30 years. From childhood, we are taught many things and we tend to believe whatever is told us. Buddha’s way was very simple, Just believe what you see and experience, don’t just believe what others say.

Day 10 – Metta meditation

Metta means positive energy and kindness. During the last day, you are taught Metta meditation. It’s basically giving back to society and sharing your positive energy and kindness to the universe. The practice is also known as loving-kindness meditation.

The goal of metta meditation is to cultivate kindness and love for all beings, including yourself and family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances, difficult people in your life, animals, etc. Meditation involved reciting positive phrases towards yourself and other beings and be grateful.

Conclusion

For most of us, Meditation is the last recourse available, to bring us back into life. Mass of the people I see in the meditation sessions, come to recover after being severely affected by something in their life. It could be a job loss, a breakup, a drug addiction, or probably any failures in personal or professional life or it can be as simple as being lonely.

While it is good to come to the course during these times, but I would suggest if you take up this course before happening of any event then it would help you to cope up with the failures elegantly and be strong.

Well, I found this meditation very helpful and continue to practice it regularly. It helps me to handle stress and connect with my mind and body.

Thank You

Thank you for patiently reading this long post. It was difficult to summarize the entire experience, but I tried my best to keep it short and sweet 😊

I would recommend you take up this course whenever you get an opportunity and give it a try.

The experience won’t be like mine or anyone else, but it will be unique for you.

If you have done Vipassana before do share your experience with us in the comment section.

Also, if you find the post informative and useful, please do share it with your friends and families. Your love and support are valuable and boost us to come up with amazing reads every time.

See you next with another post! Until then…

Keep reading! Keep sharing!

Cheers!

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Leave a Reply

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. Ravi

    Simple things seemingly have become difficult to practice

    1. therunningmonk

      Very rightly said Ravi. Even practice of simple things regularly can lead to wonders.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  2. Gagan Jain

    You have explained it in detail with your experience. This will help many people to know about Vipassana meditation.
    Thanks a lot

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Gagan. The purpose is to get more people in to meditation which helps in tackling problems easily in life.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  3. Pooja H

    Literally, you have taken tour of inward journey for all us. Very nicely explained the Law of Impermanence. Would love to join the course in near time soon. Thanks.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Pooja. Glad that you loved this blog. Do join the course whenever you get time.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  4. Rambo81

    Naicee yaar.. 😃✌️

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Rambo.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  5. Anita Satpathy

    Amazing experience. Truly inspirational. 👏

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Anita.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  6. Anita Satpathy

    Amazing write up. Truly inspirational. 👏

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Anita.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  7. Suchismita

    Amaze by the way you have narrated the experience here! It was like I was a live part of this 10 day course. The best part is digital detox is a subset of the course. Really loved the line, Vipassana allows you to spend time with yourself!

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Suchismita and i am glad that you liked this blog. Yes, digital detox is a subset of the course. It helps to spend time with ourselves.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  8. Kanika

    This was a nice read. Never knew about this
    Thanks runningmonk

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Kanika.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  9. Neha Acharya

    Very informative article, Is there any other way to learn this?

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Neha. Yes, you can start by doing Anapana Meditation which is mentioned in the blog. I will also share a video on Anapana meditation separately. Do reach out to me if you have any queries.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  10. Dr shreyas Kalaskar

    Very nicely explained about meditation, as a doctor I would only add a few to it, we tend to exercise our physical body but what we do for our mental health. Hari has given us the answer

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Dr. Shreyas. Very rightly said, we tend to ignore working on our mental health which is more crucial and Vipassana helps in maintaining balance and being equanimous.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  11. KRK

    Amazing 🙌🙌 🙌🙌🙌.
    One of my close friend attended Vipasana in Titwala. He said it’s a amazing experience.
    Looking forward to join one session atleast.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks KRK. Whenever you get time, do join the session and share us your experience. You will get a different perspective towards life.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  12. Tushar

    The article took me on a journey to Vipassana!
    Though I haven’t done it yet, I am a regular meditator and spend 35 minutes In meditation every day for 2 years, therefore I feel connected to all the experiences you have written in the article. Surely people like me will inspire by reading this article. Keep sharing your unique experiences, it worth reading.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Tushar for sharing your meditative experience. Glad that you were able to connect to this blog based on your meditative experience.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  13. Vinod Patel

    खूप दिवसांपासून मी विपसना करण्याचा विचार करत होतो, पण ते शक्य होत नव्हतं, पण या लेख वाचून लवकरात लवकर जॉईन करणार आहे, आजच जवळ च्या तारखा बघितल्या मात्र बॅचेस फुल्ल आहेत,
    कृपया मला ऍडमिशन साठी मदत कराल ही अपेक्षा,

    धन्यवाद

    1. therunningmonk

      धन्यवाद विनोद !! नक्की मि मदत करनार। तुम्ही माला व्हाट्सएप वर मैसेज करा! धन्यवाद!

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  14. Sumit Damodar Kamble

    Nicely written. Much needed information to understand the concept of Vipassana.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Sumit. Yes, i have tried to cover all the points based on my experience.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  15. Pradeep Doiphode

    Very Nice Harish Sir, Very well written Sir…

    1. therunningmonk

      Thank you Pradeep.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  16. Sushant

    Thanks therunningmonk for sharing this amazing experience!! Truly inspirational. I’m fully motivated to attend these sessions.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Sushant. Glad that you are motivated to purse and attend these sessions. Do let us know your experience when you attend this course.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  17. Puja Chhabria

    Around 2 years ago I decided to do this course and was unaware of the medidation technique they teach us at vipassana centres. As and when the course moved to an end, I realised how light it feels when your mind is unaffected by outer circumstances and challenges. More than that, we learn to be happy and detached by the setbacks and losses we experience in our lives. The inner transformation is magical!

    1. therunningmonk

      Wow. Thanks for sharing your valuable experience Puja. It indeed helps to see life from a different perspective and to be equanimous every time.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  18. Sameer Attarwala

    Well written and I agree the experience is Awesome

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Sameer.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  19. shraddha

    Wow what an awesome experience, really thought provoking!!

    1. therunningmonk

      Glad that you liked it. Thank you Shraddha.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.

  20. Ravi Yadav

    Really everyone have to join. I am going to join.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Ravi. Do share your experience once you complete the course.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  21. Ganesh kanojia

    Encouraging and very informative bro. Thanks again😊

    1. therunningmonk

      Thank you Ganesh.

      Keep meditating, Keep inspiring!!!

  22. Jinesh Khimsaria

    Woww… hopefully i can go for the Vipassana course some day 🙂
    Thanks for sharing

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks Jinesh. Whenever possible try to take up this course at least once.

      Keep meditating, keep inspiring.