A place where one can participate in a period of spiritual reflection. Vipassana is different from mindfulness meditation, which focuses on awareness, or from transcendental meditation, which uses a mantra. Instead, it dictates a general order of no reaction. It doesn't matter the pain you feel when you sit or the fact that your hands and legs are sleeping and your brain is crying out to be released.
You are instructed to refocus your attention on the objective sensations in your body, which arise and decrease, while exploring your limbs in a specific order. By doing so, for 10 days, you train yourself to stop reacting to the vicissitudes of life. Vipassana is a 10-day silent meditation retreat and there's nothing like 10 days of silence to show you the nature of your own mind. Vipassana means seeing things as they really are, and that's exactly what I experienced in the course.
Vipassana meditation reveals the ways in which we create our suffering, and once we understand it, we can begin to free ourselves from that suffering. Silent meditation retreats have their roots in an ancient Indian meditation technique known as Vipassana. A meditation retreat is a great way to deepen the practice of mindfulness to improve your overall well-being by harnessing the power of the present moment. The father of these retreats is the late SN Goenka, who grew up in Myanmar and learned Vipassana with the monks of that country.
Going on a silent retreat means exchanging the constant stimulation of modern life for stillness and silence, which is no easy task. Your meditation teacher at the retreat may also give you additional suggestions on how to prepare, and if you're just starting your relationship with meditation, we highly recommend that you follow their advice. Most meditation retreats include a combination of teachings or talks on the dharma by the retreat leader, several meditation sessions throughout the day and, of course, meals, often vegan or vegetarian. Before you book a meditation retreat on a whim, it can be helpful to find out if the retreat fits your needs, interests, comfort levels and goals.
Zen Buddhism or Tibetan Buddhism meditation retreats attract quite a few people from all over the world because of how deeply embedded the lineages are in meditation and contemplation. But you can always opt for free or more affordable options or seek the help of a therapist who specializes in holistic treatments such as meditation. You can choose to meditate in your room or in the group meditation room, or take a slow, conscious walk through designated walking areas. While silent retreats can vary greatly from country to country, we have prepared a typical day at a silent meditation retreat for you.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by spending most of your time sitting in the meditation room, look for a retreat format that allows you to move and explore mindfulness practices beyond the cushion. If your day doesn't start until you've inhaled a large cup of coffee, you might want to think about stopping drinking it before the retreat, or else you risk suffering from caffeine withdrawal. For the first time, consider choosing a retreat and lineage that offer more guidance on how to create a strong foundation.