Every now and then, we need a break from the struggles and stresses of everyday life. Sometimes this break needs to be more than just a relaxing vacation. If this is the case, a vipassana meditation retreat may be the experience you need.
These vipassana meditation retreat centers are located throughout India and are scattered across the globe. Many people do this yearly, and change their location every time. However, no matter the location, the experience is almost identical. It involves 10 days of silence, and meditating for more than 15 hours a day, with small rests and meals in between.
This routine may take some getting used to. Usually, you wake up around 3:30 a.m. and quickly take a bath and get ready by 4 a.m. At this time, all the participants sit in the meditation hall and begin to meditate until breakfast. Breakfast consists of a silent, vegetarian meal.
After breakfast, it’s back to meditating, but this time the meditation is by yourself, in a tiny room. This takes place until lunchtime. After lunch, the meditation continues until the next break around 5 p.m. then continue to learn different theories and meditate until bedtime at 9 p.m.
Vipassana Meditation retreats are segregated by gender. Some returning visitors may get their own room but first-timers have to share a room. The different kinds of people on these vipassana meditation retreats are very interesting.
A great thing about these retreats is that they are free of cost. Most centers are kept running by donations from people who have benefited from the retreat.
Vipassana meditation teaches us to “see things the way they truly are”. The directions to follow during this retreat include a focus on your breathing for a few days, then for the remainder of the retreat observe your body.
During this practice, you will feel oodles of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. However, we are taught to just observe, and not react. Observe them as they travel through you. These sensations will pass. It is challenging at times, but you must remember to observe, don’t react.
Through these practices during a vipassana meditation retreat, your awareness will begin to sharpen. The world will appear brighter, food will have more taste, music will sound more intense. You will feel at peace and will bring this feeling back into your everyday routine. You will be more aware of how things are in the “now” or the “present”.
Vipassana meditation retreats, as you can see, are very interesting and could be the experience you need to become more insightful.
In a world full of cell phones, social media, loud cities, and many other distractions, we could lose sight of how things really are, and a Vipassana meditation retreat can help us regain that feeling of living in the now that we once knew.
When you look into a baby’s eyes, you see a being that is free of stress because their mind is not cluttered with thoughts of the past or the future.
Babies are living in the present, in the “now”. So we all know how to live in the present, but all the distractions in life cause us to lose that ability. To achieve this feeling once again, a yearly vipassana meditation retreat is recommended.
My Experience: Vipassana Meditation India
If you are familiar with Vipassana, you are familiar with the 10-day silent meditation retreats. These are 10 long days, but in the end, just about everyone agrees that it was totally worth it.
India, where this practice began, is the home of some of the oldest and notable meditation centers. If you are interested in going to India for a retreat, continue reading as I talk about a typical Vipassana meditation India experience.
How It Started
I first found out about these retreats through a friend who had just come back from one. He went on and on about this life-changing experience, saying that he was now “a new man”.
I have always wanted to go to India, and Vipassana did catch my attention, so pretty soon I found myself filling out an online registration form. The registration was a lot easier than thought it would be, and soon enough I found my self in India, on my way to the meditation center. I was reluctant and had my doubts.
I wasn’t sure if I could handle being silent for that long, meditating for more than half the day, and eating only two smalls meals provided to me by the center. However, I had come too far to have any of these worries interfere with what I was about to do; take on Vipassana meditation India.
Once I arrived, the other participants and I went through an orientation-like process which helped us understand the schedule during these next 10 days and other necessary accommodations. Shortly after, we had our first meditation session.
The 10 Day Experience
These 10-days were grueling, to say the least, on both the mind and the body. Each day, we watched long videos explaining certain Vipassana meditation techniques. I was very impressed with the quality of these videos.
They were extremely helpful, especially for those with very little meditation experience. It was difficult to be silent, but each day it began to get easier and easier. This is exactly what Vipassana meditation does, it teaches us to be content in the moment and to resist temptation and our wants.
You learn to be okay with being silent all day, meditating all day, and sitting on a wooden floor all day. This might not sound like fun, but I never really thought it would be “fun”.
One of the reasons I like to travel is to meet new people from different cultures. However, during these 10 days, there was no human interaction at all.
At first, I did not get this rule. But after a few days, it all started to make sense. Keeping to yourself really helps keep your attention and your focus on yourself, which really helps with this meditation process.
There were a lot of different emotions I experienced on this journey, some good, some bad, but at the end of these 10 days, I felt like I could do just about anything.
This journey really was a challenge and I do believe I am a better, stronger person because of it. People sometimes ask me what do a mean by “better person”. It is such a difficult thing to explain so I tell them the only way to figure out what I mean is to try it themselves. Take on the challenge of Vipassana meditation India.
If you are interested in a Vipassana meditation retreat, then it is important to find the right meditation center that best fits you and your needs.
Many people who have completed their meditation would recommend a center in a foreign land for the purest experience, and more specifically recommend the home of most Vipassana meditation centers, which is India. If you are interested, take a look into these top 5 Vipassana meditation centers in India.
Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri
This is the world’s largest Vipassana meditation center, with over 10 thousand participants each year, located at the Vipassana Research Institute at Igatpuri in Maharastra. The center provides 500 individual cells for daily independent meditation. The 10-day courses here are held two times every month during the year.
Dhamma Pattana, Mumbai
The place is located in an Indian suburb not far from the beach. It is a fairly new center, opening in 2009. This gives the architecture a more modern look, and also has more modern technology, like air conditioning.
This center is a little different because it focuses on helping corporate executives and others that are in the higher positions of the business field. The practices are similar to any other Vipassana treatment, but this center really focuses on relieving the tension created by the pressure that comes with being a high executive.
Dhamma Bodhi, Bodh Gaya
The recently updated home of Lord Buddha. Located near Magadha University, the 10-day courses here start on the 1st and 16th of each month, with usually a little less than 100 students during each period.
This course also gives a lot of lessons on Buddhist philosophy, so it is recommended for those interested in learning about Buddhism.
Sikhara Dhamma, Dharamsala
This center, located within the mountains and upon acres of beautiful trees, provides a truly unparalleled experience. This location is considered one of the most visually attractive locations in India, so if you are also looking for dazzling scenery as well, this is the Vipassana meditation center for you. The course is held occasionally from April until November.
Dhamma Setu, Chennai
Located through scattered farmlands in south India, this meditation center is another newer center, opening in 2005.
This center is known for its beautiful tropical scenery. With 250 personal meditation units and an additional meditation hall that fits over 100 participants, this center has plenty of room to help tons of people get the best experience during the 10-day course that is held twice every month. Also, this center holds children’s courses as well.
Although it is a huge commitment to do a Vipassana meditation retreat at one of these centers, it is highly recommended to get the most “real” and “true” experience. That does not mean that you can’t get a life-changing experience in other countries, including the US.
If a trip to India is not something you are interested, or perhaps you want to try a retreat somewhere else or closer to home, make sure to look at other locations that better fit what you are looking for.
Vipassana meditation centers are located all across the globe. You can check from here for the centers located at other countries.
Vipassana Meditation in the UK
Vipassana meditation, taught by S.N. Goenka, means “to see things the way they really are”. The purpose of this form of meditation is to purify ourselves by self-observation. This method has been around for many years, deriving from India where it was taught by the Buddha.
Another great thing about this practice is that it is not affiliated with any religious groups and, therefore, has no interference with any of your beliefs or non-beliefs. To get the most out of this technique, it is recommended to go on a Vipassana meditation retreat.
These retreats are usually silent retreats that involve meditation from the early morning to late at night. These retreats are happening all over the world, but if you are in the UK or want to experience a Vipassana meditation UK retreat, here are some of the top places for you.
The most popular Vipassana meditation UK center is the Dhamma Dipa, located in western England. This center is located on 20-acre farmland with over 50 rooms that can welcome over 120 students at a time. This center sees over 2000 students each year.
Located nearby Dhamma Dipa, Dhamma Padhana is the first Vipassana meditation center in the west. This center holds certain facilities for certain, more in-depth meditation techniques. Every student on this retreat is isolated from the others in their own small room equipped with a tiny private meditation cell.
This Vipassana meditation UK center is located in Suffolk and can hold around 30 people and holds a variety of courses. These courses vary from 10-day courses to weekend retreats, to 3-day courses. Also, this center holds courses designed specifically for children.
Northern England Vipassana Group
Every month, this group provides a 1-day session in Leeds, Manchester, and Todmorden. They also hold 3 and 10-day courses at a center called “Castlehead” located between Morecambe Bay and the Lake District.
To apply to one of these retreats, the application can be found online. Many courses are held year-round usually around twice a month. Sometimes they may take a few months off, like in the colder months, depending on the location.
However, there are so many of these center that it should not be hard finding a retreat that best fits your needs. Perhaps you do not want to commit to a full 10-day retreat.
In this case, you can try out one of the locations that offer 1 or 3-day courses to get a feel for it. If you only have a certain time that you are available for a retreat, there is sure to be a center that is operating during that time.
The next best thing after experience a life-changing retreat is that the courses are free. This Vipassana meditation in UK centers and all Vipassana centers operate on donations from visitors that have benefited from Vipassana and want to show support and help centers out so that they can help other people like how they were helped.
If you want to learn more about Vipassana meditation, check out some of our other articles that go into full detail about this practice.