Vipassana means ‘to see things as they really are’. The ancient technique of self-purification and self-observation comes from India, but the teaching is universal, and you can participate whether you practice a religion or not.
The local Vipassana Centre, Dhamma Pataka, is situated near Worcester. This serene location, nestled amongst mountains and overlooking the Breede Valley is the perfect spot to meditate. This centre is dedicated to the practice of Vipassana meditation as taught by Satya Narayan Goenka.
You can learn the technique over the course of a ten-day residential retreat. Ten days is seen as the minimum necessary for new students to correctly understand the meditation.
All students observe silence of body, speech and mind for the first full nine days of the course. This is known as ‘noble silence’ and is paramount to the success of the course. Musical instruments, electronics, reading, writing, intoxicants, and exercise other than walking is not permitted during the course.
Courses are provided on a donation basis, as is the tradition around the world. All expenses, including food and accommodation, are covered by donations from past students who have experienced the benefits of Vipassana and wish to give the same opportunity to others. The teachers don’t receive remuneration, and helpers volunteer their time freely. The Vipassana Trust, a registered non-profit organisation, owns and manages Dhamma Pataka.
The food and accommodation
The diet consists of balanced, wholesome vegetarian food, which the volunteer helpers prepare for the students. You will receive a hearty breakfast and lunch, and a teatime snack if you are a first-time participant. Eating is not permitted after midday for past students. Men and women are accommodated separately in small, shared chalets, with beds and hot showers.
The daily schedule
Each day starts at 4 am. You will be engaged in meditation for around ten hours a day, either in the hall or your room. You are required to meditate sitting cross-legged on the floor, but there are cushions and other supports available if it’s too challenging. There’s a teacher’s discourse every evening, followed by questions regarding clarifying the technique.
Is it for me?
If you are in reasonable mental and physical health, interested and willing to make an effort and if you can follow instructions patiently and diligently, you can achieve the desired results. The daily schedule might seem daunting to new meditators, but the presence of other students practising conscientiously in the calm surroundings is reassuring.
To apply for a course, choose a date and submit your form online.
Visit the website for more information.
Images courtesy Dhamma Pataka