Vipassana: 10 days of silent meditation

The Himalayas as seen from Dharamsala in north India.

The Himalayas as seen from Dharamsala in north India. Photo: Mariellen Ward.

A vow of silence for peace of mind

[NOTE: This is a guest post from Darcie Connell of Trekity.com.]

Ten days.

Ten full days of complete and utter silence.

Do you think it is worth inner peace? I thought so.

However, no talking is just one code of discipline for Vipassana – a form of meditation that’s been practiced in India for thousands of years.

In order to learn Vipassana, I took a 10 day meditation course in Dharamsala in, India.

Was I scared?

Yes, but my fear didn’t stop me…

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Darcie Connell hiking a trail that runs behind the Vipassana Center. Photo courtesy Darcie Connell.

How I Got Myself Into That Mess

I first heard about Vipassana through a friend who’d visited India and taken the ten-day course in Vipassana meditation. He raved about the results stating, “I’m a changed man!”

Fast forward two years and I found myself traveling through India without any plans. After answering a few questions on the Vipassana website, I’d successfully registered for the course. It was easy enough, but that was just the beginning…

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Rustic accommodations at the Vipassana Meditation Center. Just glad I had walls – my husband was in a tent! Photo courtesy Darcie Connell.

Walking to the meditation center on that cold rainy day, I began to have doubts.

How am I going to live in this center only eating two meals per day? How am I going to meditate for 12+ hours a day when I haven’t sat cross-legged since I was four? How can I last 10 full days without uttering a single word?

I thought about turning around and grabbing a beer and some mo-mos (a delicious Indian snack) at the nearest town, but my feet continued forward.

When I reached the center, there was a group of reluctant individuals standing out front chatting away. I joined them and was comforted by their concerns.

About thirty minutes later, we were greeted by a volunteer staff that registered us gave us a brief run down.

The rest of the day I meandered the grounds, found my basic accommodations, attended the orientation where volunteer staff reviews the code of discipline and attended my first meditation course.

The Next 10-Days of Hell and Peace

The next 10-days were the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging days of my life.

The meditation techniques were explained daily by Mr. Goenka (the “Vipassana guru” as I like to call him) in hour-long videos at the end of each day. He addressed my concerns, hesitations and questions all without me even needing to ask in a lighthearted manner which put me even more at ease.

Each day, I became more comfortable with the silence and just being; however the physical pain was almost more than I could stand. Who would have thought that sitting in a simple cross-legged position could inflict so much pain?

But I learned that pain is part of the process.

Vipassana teaches you to avoid cravings (such as “gosh I could go for a leather recliner instead of this hard floor”) or aversions (such as “gosh I dislike sitting for 12 hours a day”) and to simply be content with your current situation whatever it may be.

No talking or eye contact was also part of the journey which is yours and yours alone. And while I was initially intimated by this code of discipline, shortly after the first day, I realized how necessary it is. If you chat with someone about their journey or yours, it removes you from focusing solely on yourself and that’s the whole point, right?

There were times that I wanted to cry, talk, and quit – but that would just be giving into more cravings and aversions.

By the end of the tenth day, I felt like I’d conquered the world… or better yet, myself.

So What?

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Tibetan prayer flags hang proudly over looking McLeod Ganj – located a quick 15 minute walk from the Vipassana Center. Photo courtesy Darcie Connell.

If you want to challenge yourself on a physical, mental and emotional level – Vipassana might be just what you’ve been searching for.

There are Vipassana Centers all around the world. You can read more about it and register at http://www.dhamma.org/. Be sure to give yourself 12 days for the course; one day for orientation, 10 days for meditation, and one day for wrap up.

The Vipassana Centers are completely free and include accommodations, meals, and training on the meditation techniques. They also accept volunteers and donations if you feel like giving back.

Have you heard about or tried Vipassana? If so, please leave a comment below.

About Darcie

Darcie Connell is the Founder and CEO of Trekity.com – a daily newsletter for active women who love travel and healthy living – and TravelBloggerAcademy.com. Follow her on Google +1.

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20 Responses to Vipassana: 10 days of silent meditation

  1. Reg of The Spain Scoop November 9, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    We’re heading to India (Southern) for the first time in a month. While we’d like to maybe do yoga, I don’t think we’d be up for this yet! Sounds challenging.
    Reg of The Spain Scoop recently posted..Photo Friday: Where In Spain Is This?My Profile

    • jaswant September 4, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      I have gone through the same pain twice .Second time place was Maglotgang. i came back very happy.Achivement was 100%

      • Uma September 21, 2015 at 3:03 am #

        I heard about vipassana last month from my brother, he said that his experience was so nice. I hope i also try this experience one day

  2. Shalu November 11, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I have heard of Vipassana before but to be honest I have not tried this thing before. I have seen many people try it and they have liked it. I hope to try this one day.
    Shalu recently posted..Types of ghosts and haunted places in IndiaMy Profile

  3. Rohit Kunal January 2, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I am glad that you were able to do it. I have just finished my second ten-day course yesterday and it was really good. When I went to Vipassana for the first time (last year same time at Dehradun, India), I was seeking for a respite – a place to be alone with myself and meditation for inner peace. I got more than what I’ve asked for. It’s an art of living. I was so at peace by the end of the 10th day and felt that a load has been taken off my head. I felt lighter. I thought I’d come back for a second course someday but I never thought it’d be so soon.
    I didn’t work on Vipassana much after I came back and I wanted to do a second course by October and reserved my stay at Jodhpur, India this time. The second experience was initially not as rewarding as I hoped it to be – a mistake of mine that I started going against it, but by the end of the course I was so happy I did it. Now I’ve decided to make it a path of my life and continue on it.
    The real life experiences of others – as told on the last day were really inspiring and I’d suggest this to anyone and everyone.

    P.S: I’ve been so happy since yesterday that I started to google “Vipassana blog” and found this one. 🙂

  4. ali April 20, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    I am an athiest, and i mediate, i hope they don’t prayers and devi devta comic book stuff.

    • aa March 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      no such thing as an aetheist.

  5. kunal, all the Best September 9, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    excellent thing to do it one hour daily

  6. Math February 3, 2014 at 2:00 am #

    Hi!
    Thank you very much for this post, is very interesting.
    I have juste a question, how many people do the same formation during the 10days? (at the Darhamsala vipassana center)
    Thank you for your answer!
    Math

  7. Shira May 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    I would like to apply to the same center you went to in Dharamsala. Could you please tell me how to go about doing this? Thank you in advance. Love and light

    • Hitesh July 2, 2014 at 5:37 am #

      Hi Shira,

      You might want to go to this page here, specifically for Dharamsala centre:

      http://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schsikhara

      Hope this helps!

      Hitesh

    • Mary January 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

      Hi, did you ever apply? I’m thinking of applying soon and would appreciate any tips or advice. Thanks!

  8. partha August 13, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    very nice post. thanks. could
    you pl describe what kind of
    meditation you have to do
    there from the first day. they
    say you just watch your
    breath‚ but I found that until
    and unless your mind is
    calm and quite its not
    possible. pl say what you
    have experienced. thanks
    again.

  9. pravin kumar mishra September 18, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    I would like to join free classes offered by vipasana. Thanx

  10. Harsh March 8, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m planning to take the course in coming month. I believe I’m at the right time of my life to experience 10 days of silence. For now, researching about people’s experience.

  11. Alok Kumar Mukherjee April 12, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    I would like to join the course . Please let me know the procedure etc

  12. Ajay Kumar Mohanta November 1, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

    Thank you for this beautiful blog, I got to know about Vipasana meditation from a colleague of mine yesterday, he has done the 10 day course once and will do it again in few months, he follows the daily meditations suggested as well, he is very happy about it and describes how it has brought him inner peace and has reduced lots of cravings. I have decided to attend this course in March/ April next year.

  13. Ashwani aalok December 19, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Hi, i wants to join this 10day course, i am in need of meditation..
    Can anyone guide me how to join ??

  14. Nitin mehra February 11, 2017 at 6:36 am #

    Ii am interesting to do 10 days meditation course at dharamkot

  15. Vishal June 15, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    Hey Darcie, I can totally relate to your experience of Vipassana! McleodGanj seems like a beautiful place to meditate in! It really does help to change a person and helps to look at things from a different perspective. I also took one such retreat in Jaipur in 2014 and it led me to some amazing insights. Since it’s quite an old post, I’d really like to know how your life has been since then. Plus how difficult or easy it has been for you to maintain your practice? It has not been the same for me honestly and I usually struggle with maintaining a regular practice of it. Reading your experience has once again inspired me to build a strong habit of meditation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    Vishal recently posted..14 Vipassana Centres in India You Can Visit For A Free Meditation RetreatMy Profile

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