The first association you might have with healthy retreats and meditation might be that of escapism and relaxation. While there are many retreats focused on getting you all pampered and relaxed, the practice of meditation is actually hard work! You have to sit and try to concentrate all day while you get confronted with your inner self. Maybe you can only meditate for a few minutes or maybe you are ready for a 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat.
If you are looking for a place to to learn how to meditate without spending all your bucks on a luxurious commercial retreat will do right in checking out the ten-day retreats from the Vipassana-foundation. This was founded by the recently deceased Mr S.N. Goenka, a former Indian business man from Birma who decided to teach meditation after he got over heavy migraine through the technique. The foundation offers courses on more than a hundred locations worldwide.
The organization is non-commercial: nobody is making any money off of it except the foundation itself. You are not allowed to pay the foundation any money before you have finished a ten-day course yourself. After a course you are invited to pay a voluntary amount based on your own volition and means.
The Daily Routine
During a ten-day course you learn the technique of Vipassana meditation: Vipassana means something like insight, and you learn how to be able to gain insight in yourself through concentration and observation. You focus on your breath and on bodily sensations, and that is basically all you do throughout these ten days: at 4 o’ clock in the morning you will be woken up by the bell and at ten o’clock in the evening lights go out and you try to sleep. In the meantime –with exception of mealtime, some breaks and the discourses in the evening—you are meditating.
Minimal Stimulation with Your Meditation
An important aspect of the course is the precepts: do not harm any living beings, do not tell any lies, do not steal, do not engage in sexual activity (men and women are separated during the course) and no cigarettes, alcohol or other intoxicants. Besides this there is Noble Silence during the course, which means that during the course communication between students is not allowed. Reading or writing is also prohibited, and contact with the outside world is also not allowed (the sole entertainment comes from the beautiful garden which you can walk through). The precepts are meant to stimulate concentration on the technique.
The course is intense, as meditation is hard work. When living their lives people tend to focus on the world outside themselves. During a meditation course like this you turn inward. This is bound to cause discomfort (impatience, fear, homesickness, sitting aches, to name a few).
Surgical Operation of the Mind
The hard work does pay off, big time: it is not for nothing that this course is called a surgical operation of the mind. In the months after the course you will find that you have cured from all kinds of mental ailments and complaints. You have gotten to know yourself in an entirely new way during those ten days, and this effects your daily life. The most important thing is perhaps that you have learned a technique that will help you find some peace in your hectic daily life.
S.N. Goenka’s Vipassana organisation offers the possibility to learn how to meditate, accessible to anyone. You focus on yourself for the whole course, and the strict precepts keep your mind clear. But do not expect a quick fix or a holiday: the course is intense. The hard work does pay off, which is why Vipassana is definitely a recommendation for people who want to make a serious effort in improving themselves and want to learn a valuable skill which they can use for the rest of their lives.
Ten-day courses Vipassana are organized two times per year in a small town called de Glind in the province of Gelderland. The organization owns its own meditation center just over the border in Belgium, where many courses are organized each year. See dhamma for more information on global meditation events organized throughout the year.