I took part in a Vipassana meditation 10 day retreat at the age of 16 in Australia, roughly 10 years ago. I don't think I was ready for that kind of
training at the time, but it was, for me the only kind that provided results. If you think you can manage 10 days of social dislocation and self
observance, I say go for it. I really appreciated it, and believed it was true in some sense since all Vipassana courses are free and donation based,
which I fully agree with, as opposed to paid courses. And on a plus note, the food is amazing, but that's besides the point.
Day One was pretty much a meet and greet, say hi, introduce yourself to the other students, etc. After that you pretty much are instructed to not
speak to anyone, look anyone in the eye, etc. There are exceptions, as in you can only speak to your teacher and his assistant if you have questions
regarding the meditating.
Depending on the retreat location, I know they allow people to camp around the facility or share some sort of cabin with another student. It's up to
you, they separate the men from the woman naturally.
Every morning they would sound a gong, roughly 4 or 5am, this is when you make your way to the main meditation hall for your first 2 hour session.
There are three or four of these intense 2 hour meditation sessions per day. In the hall, a video was played frequently of one of the masters from
India, walking you through the techniques. He was quite funny and modern about it, which was unexpected but a relief.
There are three laws, the first is the most important for beginners: the 'law of impermanence' (or Anicca), ie; nothing is lasting, life is one
fleeting moment to the next. We'd use this in meditation, for example, if you had a thought in your mind, rather than avoid it or try to push it out,
you would observe it indefinitely until it passed/ceased to be, which I found actually worked. Another way is that you would focus you mind on
sensations on your body, like an itch. If you do not scratch it, it'd eventually go away, regardless of how intolerable it became. You'd then focus
on two spots, three then four, etc, until you were 'scanning' your body up and down from head to toe. It sounds tedious, and believe me it is, but
it truly is an amazing sense of being if you take the time to get that far. I've OBE'd a couple times after doing this a lot, hours at a time mind
you. I won't get into the other laws, it should all be on the Vipassana website.
Anywho, you do all of this, hours on end for 10 days. It's tough, we had people who couldn't take it just leave, you just kinda knew since people
just started not showing up for meditation. I don't know if I could do the 40 day courses... seems a little too die hard for me.
It's not easy, but I think the benefits/lessons are life lasting. I highly recommend Vipassana to those looking for a true practical meditation
course. Even though it's not required, I also suggest you donate what you can, or rather what you feel you received after it's over. It's all
volunteer based, and the people really do their best to make it an amazing experience for the participants. I would like to do it again at some
Hope this was informative and not to all over the place. I can answer any questions from what I know also, feel free.
ps; you also must refrain from killing bugs and the like as this goes against the teachings. i had a wasp nest in my cabin... you can imagine how that
was, but in the end they never bothered me