Most people associate meditation with sitting quietly for 20 or 30 minutes, silently focusing and gaining a new awareness of oneself. This can be a challenge in itself, so how do you think you’d handle 10 straight days of it? Now what if there could be no eye contact with others, no phones or internet, no reading or writing, sometimes no moving at all? Welcome to Vipassana meditation.
Yvonne Moran spent six months traveling through India and thought a Vipassana retreat sounded like the perfect way to unwind. But in fact, she says, “The idea of meditating with no contact with the outside world for days on end on the sultry, tropical island of Sri Lanka might sound heavenly – but it proved to be the toughest thing I’d done in years.” Read about Yvonne’s first course of Vipassana meditation in this article by The Irish Times.
The 2,500-year-old Vipassana meditation is universally applicable and non-secular. It teaches through your body’s sensations to see things as they really are.
By neutrally observing the changing nature of body and mind; of observing how the body’s sensations continually change, meditators learn the nature of impermanence, suffering and egolessness.
Eventually, you become more able to note the body’s pleasant and unpleasant sensations (pain or tension from sitting in one position, for example) without craving or aversion – without having to change your position to alleviate the discomfort, realising that it is temporary and not permanent.
Yvonne writes that she was exhausted after her course of Vipassana meditation, but that she felt more positive, more patient, lighter. And she continues her practice since returning home.
There is great emphasis on preserving the Vipassana technique as it was originally created. Courses are not taught commercially, but instead offered free of charge, with no one involved receiving any compensation. There aren’t any charges – not even the cost of room and board. Instead, all expenses are paid by donors who have completed a Vipassana course, felt its benefits, and want to share the experience with others.
Have you experienced a Vipassana meditation retreat?