My Experience at Vipassana at Igatpuri:
12 days for Vipashyana at Igatpuri from 13 to 24 Aug 2008 was a different experience in Meditation compared to any other meditation course I had ever attended earlier. For 10 days, arya mouna (no talking, no signs of communication) no newspapers, no tv, no cells or phones, no music, no praying etc etc. The list of don’t include not to exercise, not to perform yogasanas, no any other type of meditation except what is taught at that place. Ofcourse, all these restrictions are clarified to all the candidates repeatedly before joining the course.
You also have to give an undertaking that you would not leave the course in the mid- process. In fact you will not be allowed to, as they believe that leaving half way through may create serious health problems.
The life starts at 4am and completes by 9.30pm and includes 12.30 hrs of meditation every day in sitting posture. These are divided in 4 sessions, 2 hrs early morning, 3 hours before noon, 4 hours after noon and 3 hrs in the night session which includes the DVD discourse.
You keep on asking yourself is it possible that a beginner can concentrate well continuously for 4 hours. Is it not worth compressing to shorter sessions for better concentration? In my interaction with the management there, I was told that these are being practiced after studying the impact over lakhs of persons in last 25 years.
It is a place where your opinion about the course changes 3 times every day, depressed feeling in the morning, dejected in the afternoon, delighted in the evening and ends with frightful nights.
Tea breakfast at 6.30am, 11am is the lunch and 5pm is the time for snacks and tea/milk. No dinner. That is it. Wait for next day breakfast time to taste any thing further. Efficiently managed dining job completes lunch to 300 persons just in 40 minutes max.
Ladies and gents are completely separated and are not even supposed to see each other as seeing would mean distraction in meditation. That generates the only entertainment activity of “peep and trace the spouse” (chori chori se) while walking in fast moving dining queue.
The spiritual discourses are claimed to be non-religious, but is surely influenced by Budhist principles. The main motto is “understand yourself, you will be able to understand others”. This understanding is based through controlling your breadth and observing what is happening in every small part of your body. No importance is to be given to any good or bad development in the body as it is believed that every creation in this universe is temporary and has to come to an end. This principle therefore also applies to human body and the pain therein.
Amongst the many “Don’t do”, one of the most unpopular restriction is not to pray or chant the deities of any religious belief. As per my personally understanding, they believe that other religions create Mote Mote Lep (thick layers) of Andh viswas (blind faith).
Teaching and instructions are played by audio cassettes. The fundamentals behind the instructions are explained by way of DVD filmed discourses of teacher Mr. Satyanarayan Goenka (more affectionately called as Guruji), every day for about 100 minutes, the ones which no would like to miss.
Audio cassette instructions would mean limited direct communication with the assistant teachers present in the meditation hall, who clarify the questions, if any, of the students. Therefore those who are shy of asking question may continue to follow wrong notions or postures etc.
All said and done, the most important thing is, by the time you reach 10th day of the course you really feel fresh and rejuvenated, a miracle short of feeling.
All the assistant teachers and the help you get from about 200 of the volunteers, they all work honorary and mostly the past students. All the boarding and lodging is free of cost. No donations are accepted except at the end of the course. You donate whatever you want only if you feel you got benefit out of the course. These donations helps covering the cost of the next batch of students.
All is well that ends well. Most of the persons normally leave satisfied. This course surely merit 4star plus grading. Certainly minimum one course is recommended. If suits to your liking, continue repetitions and advance courses.