I did my first 10 Day Vipassana course in 1995, and have done it three more times in the years since. As a senior editor for Meditation Techniques, this is my 10 Day Vipassana Course Review. These thoughts are mine alone, and do not represent Dhamma.org or any other organization.
I don’t want to speak much of the structure of the 10 day course, other than to say that the for the first part of the course, you take a couple of days to calm and center your mind by concentrating on your breath and only your breath. You can read more about the schedule here. The charming young woman in the video below will also give a good summary of the days.
Then the main part of the training begins, and you do a very simple, very challenging mental exercise. You simply scan your body in a highly systematic manner, and fill your consciousness with the bare sensations of the particular area of the body that you are focusing on. Your only task, your only goal, the only thing in your world for that moment in time is your awareness of those particular sensations, which you experience as purely and simply as possible.
You might be asking yourself … “You mean you just focus on your body, and experience the sensations? Is that all?
Yes, that’s all
And it is ridiculously hard to do! My mind…. your mind. …. all untrained human minds jump all over the place. You will be absolutely amazed, embarrassed, even humiliated at difficulty of just keeping your mind focused on that one simple task.
That is part (just a part) of the brilliance of this course. Because they demand a 10 day commitment from students, and 10 hours a day practice where all your needs are taken care of, you WÏLL have the time, space, and opportunity to train and discipline your wild, undisciplined, unfocused and untrained mind.
Noble Silence As A Meditation Technique Itself
This course was also my introduction to the concept of Noble Silence. In Noble Silence as expressed in this organization, you will not speak. And more than that, you avoid eye contact with everyone else, you avoid looking at other people, or hand gestures, or any kind of interaction with others. Further, because this esperience is purely about you and your consciousness, you take a vow of zero distractions. No phones (of course), but also no writing, no reading, no music, no art. You even agree, for the time of Noble Silence, to no running, no yoga, no exercise of any kind. When you think about it, we often use exercise to get “out of our head” don’t we? Noble Silence, pursued with vigor and integrity is in and of itself a very challenging and powerful mental discipline.
Combining Noble Silence with the powerful and demanding practice of Vipassana delivers much of the power of the course. Having all your physical needs taken care of for you really frees you to go as deep into the practice as you might imagine.
If you are at all interested in really seeing how your own mind works, in experiencing what really happens in there, and in giving it some serious mental training in perception, focus, and attention ….. think of what a blessing it is to have the Dhamma organization feed you, house you, and take care of all your physical needs for 10 days so that your total focus can and will be on the Vipassana meditation technique, and only on that technique, for 10 hours a day, for 10 days.
Just don’t think this is the Club Med of Meditation. Yes.. .they will serve you beautiful and plentiful vegetarian meals. Yes, your only task for the 10 days is to practice Vipassana for 10 hours out of the 24 hours each day.
If you take your work seriously, this 10 day course will be an ordeal! If it is your first 10 day vipassana retreat, you will experience real pain, physical pain from all the sitting, emotional pains will be stirred, and psychological pain will emerge from the muck of your unconscious mind. This is not an experience if you are seeking mere comfort!
But at the end you will have really learned many things about your mind, and you will have given it some of the most intensive and useful training imaginable.
If you have more questions, please ask in the comments below, and I will answer ALL your questions in as much (or as little) detail as you wish.
What will happen? Will everything be transformed? Will you be a completely new person at the end of the course. My answer to that is the same answer the great Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa gave in answer to the following questioner who said …. “Rinpoche Trungpa, I am so afraid of nuclear war! Will the world end in a nuclear holocast?
Trungpa smiled his wry smile and said ” No such luck! Next question please.”
But enough from me. Check out the video below for another person’s experience. This young woman is a complete delight, and she seems to have really “got” the training.
Learn more about the 10 Day Vipassana Course here.
If you are an “old student” (that’s what we call people who have completed a 10 day) please leave a comment below where you share some small part of your experiences.