Vipassana - 10 days meditation course - Poland

Vipassana Meditation

Quick intro

🤦‍♂️ means: personal experience

Why I’m writing about it?

Writing things down has always proved to be a very good way to get my thoughts and understandings in order.

It helps me talk to myself with less or very little noise/interference.

The idea to write about my experience during and after a ten day course came from moments where I felt insecure when trying to put what I went through into words.

Writing about this experience is a great opportunity to better digest my reading and perhaps help people curious about Vipassana.

I warn you that the text may end up a little long and very personal. After all, it is a personal reflection on a reading based on my life experience and my values.

What are the first steps?

  1. You sign up for a meditation course
  2. You are accepted
  3. Between the day of your registration and the day of the course start you will reconfirm your interest several times.
  4. You travel to the Vipassana centre

How is it when you get there?

  1. As you enter the place, women go to one side of the centre, men go to the other side
  2. There you have to read the terms and sign it once more
  3. You give them your cell phone/books/notebooks/pen/etc
  4. You lock your wallet and belongings
  5. You get a room
  6. You hear a quick talk about the next few days where they will describe some important things such as that every one has a fixed place to sit on the meditation hall and on the dinning room
  7. The noble silence begins
  8. You have dinner
  9. You go to sleep

The Next 10 days! How do they look like?

Time Activity
4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 Lunch break
12 noon-13:00 Rest and interviews with the teacher
13:00-14:30 Meditate in the hall or in your room
14:30-15:30 Group meditation in the hall
15:30-17:00 Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
17:00-18:00 Tea break
18:00-19:00 Group meditation in the hall
19:00-20:15 Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
20:15-21:00 Group meditation in the hall
21:00-21:30 Question time in the hall
21:30 Retire to your own room–Lights out

Yes! That is it! You do seat, close your eyes and meditate for around 10 hours a day.

How many people are there?

I did it in Poland. It is big there.

I think they have space for around 80 men and 80 women but, because of covid I believe we had 37 men and 37 women.

How much it costs?

Vipassana is free. There is no price for it.

The people who work there (including the teacher) will not receive money for their work. All meals you have there and all resources you use or consume are supported by donations and nothing else.

As the course works through donations, at the end of the course, each student will have access to ways to donate money to help the next students. However, there is no pressure and if you don’t have the financial means no one will put pressure on you. It is also said that volunteering at the center is a form of giving and that this type of giving is the most valued by the center.

What if I feel like giving up or if I have any questions during the process

Noble silence must be respected and that is why you don’t talk to anyone and don’t exchange any gestures with any student.

However, if you have doubts about the technique or if you have any problem, there will be a time of day to talk to the teacher and the teacher only.

Each side (women/men) has their own manager. You can also look for the manager in case you have problems like for example (you’ve got ill)

What about the food?

The food was AWESOME. It’s all vegetarian, but suitable for a vegan too.

Breakfast was always very similar. Lunch was different every day. Dinner was just one fruit (only for new students)

Can I have any distractions?

No! That’s the answer. No workouts, no stretching, no reading, no yoga, no distractions. After all! You are there for the Vipassana technique.

Part of learning is that you are there to learn the technique taught and that is your present moment.

How it was to meditate for so long?

I believe there is a common ground here so, I won’t state that a personal opinion

It was hard! Very hard!

Day 1, 2 and 3

You will not learn the Vipassana technique until you reach the day 4.

The reason why is because Vipassana needs you to be present at the moment and this takes days to practice. In fact, it’s amazing how much noise our brain is capable of producing.

So the first three days will you train your brain to be present.

It all starts with you sitting, closing your eyes and observing your breath.

It is all about observing it. Not change it or control it. Only observe it.

First day, your mind will drift for hours and later you will realize that you have totally forgotten to observe your breath, but as the days go through the drifts are becoming shorter. Little by little you start to be more present on the moment.

As you develop your ability to be present, you also begin to observe the little more than your breathing. You will soon start to observe what sensations are present between the nose and the upper lip. Sensation as the temperature of the air entering and leaves your nostril. Itches, dryness on the nose canal, moist, etc

🤦‍♂️ In fact, it is mind blowing to realize that all these sensations were always there, but my brain was not sensitive enough. 🤦‍♂️

Day 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Now you are ready to start learning the Vipassana technique and, the idea is very similar: you start observing your breathing until you have a quiet mind.

After you start watching your body the same way. And, as before, you focus on very small parts. Part by part.

We started by splitting the body into small areas to scan and, an scan cycle is established.

The cycle begins at the top of the head, face; right shoulder, right biceps, right elbow, right forearm, right hand, right fingertip, left shoulder, left biceps; left shoulder, left forearm, left hand, finger tips sketch; neck, chest, abdomen; top of the back, lumbar, butt; Right loss thigh, right knee, right leg potato, right foot, right toes; Left leg thigh, left knee, left foot, left toes. We return to the beginning of the cycle.

As you did your breathing, you should observe any sensations you have.

You will observe. You won’t change or look for anything. If it is itching you observe the itch! If it hurts, you observe the pain. You are training to do not react and observe.

🤦‍♂️ In the beginning, it was difficult to observe something different than the pain and Itching, but over time, I began to observe new sensations. Day-to-day something new would appear.

It is interesting that the idea behind of the noble silence is to avoid you to look search/desire experiences shared by others. The noble silence helps you to be more focus on your learning and understanding of the technique. 🤦‍♂️

The way you scan parts of your body changes as you become increasingly aware of sensations but, the idea is still the same: You observe all sensations with a clean mind and you do not react! You observe.

🤦‍♂️ It is very interesting when you reach a peace of your body in which no sensations can be observed. For day I had no ability to observe any sensations on my chest and my shoulders. 🤦‍♂️

It is part of the technique and it is also very important to understand that you should not stay attached to any sensations you have. You should learn all in a equal way. If there is pleasure, you observe and you move on to the next peace of your body. If there is pain you will do the same.

You use your body as a laboratory.

After days doing the same exercise you will be able, by experience, to understand that all the sensations have something in common.

Pleasure or pain, they all appear and disappear with time.

The pain you observed when you were scanning your lower back was there. And, if you made to not react by changing your position you were able to observe that not long after, it disappeared.

As soon as you start to be more and more aware of that idea you stop moving and you can seat still for a long time. All because you know the pain will go away. It is temporary.

The teacher once told me that at the end of the course people were able to stay still in the same position for hours and to be honest I had a hard time to believe in that. But he was right.

Day 10

You wake-up and you do back to the same routine as you had before but, at around 10:00AM the noble silence is over. That mean you can finally speak with all those people and you can also speak with the women.

It is amazing. It is such a good energy. It is hard to explain.

The days pass and return to our meditation. No speech is allowed in the meditation room but, later we are back to the dining room and everyone is sharing your experiences, struggles, smiles and good energy.

During the 10th we also define who will be responsible for what during the next day. Some people will clean the kitchen, some will clean the outdoor areas, some dining room, etc. It is also the day we try to find out who can give each other a ride for different cities. During this day you will also watch the video and will hear some volunteer talk about the center and how it all began.

At night we meditate and we listen to the last discourse before we go to sleep at 21:30 as usual.

Day 11

You wake-up, you clean your room, you have breakfast and you go clean something else but you are free to go home :)

What I’ve got from it?

🤦‍♂️ What is there to learn? (my personal reading) 🤦‍♂️

There is A LOT MORE to learn than what I have to say. What to learn is something very personal and it will change from person to person but, there it goes what I’ve got from my first experience:

Vipassana teaches us to see/understand your interaction with the world in a different way. It teaches us to stop reacting and start observing. Teach us how important is it to have a clean mind during any kind of observation and that to have a clean mind, we have to stop listening to the past and stop thinking about the future.

It also teaches us that nothing is forever and all (life, pain, pleasure, etc.) will appear and disappear. Sometimes you will not be able to feel anything or that sometimes you will feel too much, but will disappear.

It teaches you that no matter the type, the attachment is not healthy.

It also teaches you not to trust your brain. It shows that our brain is going to choose the most easy way out of everything. That, our brain create all reasons and rationalize everything so you can feel comfortable.

🤦‍♂️ Did it change my life? 🤦‍♂️

During the 10 days, I was able to observe how I am connected to my values and how these values can impair my learning and my experience with the world.

That was a very important lesson to me.

It is interesting to observe how values, wounds, passion, fear interfere in our Vision for the world or our vision for any subject. How important detachment in order to observe the clear things and act.

I was also able to understand the importance of meditation. It seems to me as doing this every works as a daily reminder.

These 10 days showed me how blind I am to my body (I thought I was not).

It also show me something about how much I have addicted to “fast food”. I mean, to have to go through a long process showed me that things are much more complex than I believe they are and how I’m addicted to 15 minutes Ted Talks, 1/2 hour(s) Podcast. Quick reading, fast messages and how superficial all this can be. Maybe even Unhealthy. Especially if I extend the same concept for my social life and to my expectations for the world, people and me.

It took my idea of what it is to live the gift for another level.

Vipassana reminded me that we are slaves of our experiences or lack of experiences, slave of our values, knowledge, ego, our brain. It remind me that unhappiness and misery are consequences of our desires, expectations, search, attachment to some idea, ideal, value, feeling. Those are our pain, and our pleasure. We are attached to those. We feed them with more pleasure, rage, love, hate and, we don’t let them go. We don’t understand that as, everything in life (life included), they are temporary.