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Vipassana Sets You Free, But You Must Have The Will To Survive The First 10 Days

Vipassana Sets You Free, But You Must Have The Will To Survive The First 10 Days
The number of Vipassana practitioners is growing worldwide.

People wishing to learn Vipassana meditation have to undergo a minimum 10-day course under the guidance of a qualified teacher.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : September 13, 2021 12:23 PM IST

Vipassana or insight meditation is one of India's most ancient meditation techniques. It is the meditation that Gotama the Buddha practiced and taught during his 45-year ministry, more than 2500 years ago. In Pali, an ancient language of Buddhism, Vipassana means "to see things as they really are." Vipassana meditation is a simple, practical way to achieve peace and harmony by purifying the mind.

People wishing to learn Vipassana meditation have to undergo a minimum 10-day course under the guidance of a qualified teacher. During these 10 days, students live within the course site observing noble silence, without any contact with the outer world and not even communicating with fellow students. Their day begins at 4:30 a.m. and continues until 9:00 p.m. and perform at least ten hours of meditation. During the course, however, but they can discuss meditation questions with the teacher and take help of the management for material problems. Vipassana is a path leading to freedom from all suffering and a way to lead a truly happy life but surviving the 10-day lesson is a big challenge.

"Most of us are preoccupied with avoiding distress and anxiety. We seek pleasure, gratification. So, surviving a 10-day lesson in Vipassana will be challenging. You spend most part of your day away from daily comforts meditating, isolated and battling with your mind. There may be many instances, especially on the 4th and 6/7th day, when you'll want to run. But, if you keep the faith, your pain will finally go away and you will never be the same again," said Rajat Khare, who recently completed his third Vipassana course in four years.

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The benefits of Vipassana meditation

Rajat Khare, a 36-year-old Europe-based deep-tech investor, has been practicing mindfulness meditation and yoga for over a decade now. It helped him navigate the challenges and pressures of establishing a business that required absolute focus and commitment.

"Graduating to Vipassana was a step taken to achieve a higher level of insight," he said.

He continued, "Henepola Gunaratana, an influential Buddhist monk, once described it as 'looking into something with clarity and precision, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing'. Vipassana meditation is about training the brain to quieten down to not react to pain and pleasure impulsively."

"We are all prisoners of our circumstances and have little control over our mind. Vipassana set me free", added Rajat.

Most difficult part ofthe 10-day journey

With the explosion of interest in this Buddhist practice, the number of Vipassana practitioners is growing worldwide. But very few are able to successfully complete the 10-day journey of near-continuous meditation and absolute silence.

"The 10 days were a life-changing experience when I first attempted Vipassana. Different things are difficult for different people and for me, the physical strength and mental calmness required to sit in meditation sessions were the most difficult aspects. But I was willing to walk through the pain, the rewards kept me motivated. While I don't have spiritual wings, I manage my mind much better today," Rajat shared.

"Most practitioners are not prepared to handle the grueling schedule of 10 to 12 hours of practice every day along with silence. It's brutal," he asserted.

So, how do you survive the 10 days?

Rajat, who has completed three Vipassana courses, said "it is difficult, but possible to go the whole distance."

He said, "Be kind to yourself, inspire yourself through motivating thoughts 'I know this is normal, but this will pass these challenges are parts of the experience.' Surrender is crucial. Let go, don't fight."

"When the going gets tough, and you feel restless, bored and annoyed, give yourself space to accept those feelings. They belong to your experience. It's best to follow SN Goenka's advice: Once you allow and accept those emotions, they will slowly lose their strength."

"Remember impermanence. This too shall pass," he added.

But he warns not to expect major shifts in life. "The changes will be subtle at first, but they are going to form the bedrock of your existence, way of life. It's equally important to realize that if you are struggling and are traumatized by this experience, you should leave. It's not necessary to go through this to have a happy life," Rajat remarked.

Mind has been the biggest victim of the Coronavirus pandemic. The mental toll of quarantine and lockdown has been damaging as people continue to battle stress, depression and emotional exhaustion. Vipassana has healed many, has transformed lives during this period. This should encourage many more.