Vipassana-The art of Meditation – It has been twelve years since I first experienced the 10 day Vipassana course at Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri.
My first introduction to Vipassana was quite unexpected. I was told, it would be a silent meditation, with no eye contact, no reading or music, no exercise, no communication, and overall no cellphones. I was prepared for all this as the benefits were so immense that cannot be measured in any form.
The Igatpuri Centre
The Igatpuri centre is beautifully situated in a hilly area with trees all around and a lake nearby. Well planned rooms with attached bathrooms, well lit areas, dining room, reception area, meditation room and the Grand Pagoda are the main part of the infrastructure here. You could hear the sounds of the gong in your room. Pretty pathways with even prettier flower beds which made you smile. You can opt for single sharing or a twin sharing rooms. My room was instantly changed to another section where the windows had nets from which mosquitoes and lizards could not enter. So much for care and concern.
What is Vipassana?
Vipassana-The art of Meditation is a form of meditation that can be translated as ‘Insight’ – a clear awareness of exactly what is happening every moment as you breathe. While practicing Vipassana, a deep calm comes over the body and mind, a state of tranquility which must be experienced to be understood. This technique was supposedly practiced by Lord Buddha himself more than 2500 years ago. It is not associated with any specific religion but universally accepted practice for humanitarian benefits.
The Vipassana centres are located world-over. All of them are well maintained and run by an organization founded by the recently deceased Mr S.N. Goenka. This is a non profit making organization and welcomes people from all faiths and backgrounds.
The Basic Rules of Vipassana
So, now you might have more questions, more doubts, and would want to learn more about Vipassana-The art of Meditation
At the start itself, attendees of a Vipassana course undertake these guidelines to be practiced during the entire course.
1) Abstinence from killing any living thing
2) No phone, no internet, or any outside contact
3) No human contact or mixing with opposite sex
4) Abstinence from telling lies
5) Abstinence from all intoxicants like smoking, gutka etc.
6) Must observe a noble silence and calmness
7) Abstinence from rites, rituals, or other ceremonies
8) No Jogging, Yoga, or any forms of physical exercise
9) Strictly following the time-table
10) To stay within the ashram premises
My experience of Vipassana
The initial days were very tough, in fact the first three days were very difficult to adapt and adjust. You have to wake up early and bathe as hot water comes in the tap for an hour only. I actually relished the simple vegetarian food along with the rigorous timetable. You actually wonder why you have been put through this kind of mindful meditation. Is it necessary? What will I gain? I kept asking myself. It is only after a few days whilst you get used to the routine and after the various meaningful discourses that you understand the value and deeper meaning of Vipassana. You start liking and enjoying the experience.
What positive attributes I gained
For 10 days, I agreed to live a life of complete silence, called Noble Silence, along with people I did not know and with whom I could not make eye contact with.
1. I was happy to take a deep dive within myself to understand why we react to any stimuli.
2. Learnt more about the law of impermanence and non attachments to earthly pleasures.
3. Vipasssana helped me to concentrate, on important aspects of life.
5. It made me face life’s challenges better, change my previous habits that I was stressed about.
6. It helped me live in the present and let go of the past sufferings and pains.
7. Improved my family relationships, inter personal skills, social connections, and less feeling of loneliness.
8. Vipassana teaches us how to detach amidst all luxuries, pleasures, and comforts of life.
My Final thoughts
I owe my spiritual enlightenment and power of tolerance to Vipassana-The art of Meditation. Even though I know craving leads to misery, I crave to visit one more time in my life and apply for my second Vipassana course. For me, this was an experience of a lifetime that gave me the realization about existence and the role I play in this world. It was an introduction to me by myself.
And as we reach the 22nd letter of the alphabet with this post. I also wish to share my previous post on letter U – Unlucky or Lucky?