Is it worth it or not – it’s only up to you
I did not look for Vipassana meditation, it came to me by itself. First, in the shape of my cousin, who told me about a 10-day course of silent meditation, which she’d done in Australia, and then when I was looking for help at a very difficult time in my life.
VIPASSANA – what it is?
There’s a whole lot of information about Vipassana meditation (what it is and what it is not), so I will not focus on it here. I recommend to go to the Polish website of Vipassana meditation: https://www.pallava.dhamma.org/pl/, where you will find all information about courses and techniques. It is worth mentioning that it is one of the oldest Indian meditation techniques and it means “to see things as they really are.”
For those attending for the first time it is necessary to take part in a 10-day course, after which you become a senior student and you can serve others on subsequent courses (subscriptions also on the website, voluntary service, serving in the form of meal preparation, administration, cleaning or other form), take part in 3-day or longer courses.
10 days before – get ready for … actually for what?
I went on a 10-day course in February 2017, to the resort in Krutynia in Masurian Lake District in Poland, which was rented for the duration of the course. Currently, there is already Dhamma Pallava in Poland – a dedicated Vipassana meditation centre in Dziadowice, where all courses take place. Information on how to prepare yourself, what are the rules and what to take with you came by e-mail. The location of the courses has changed, but the course itself has not, so below there are a few tips from my stay.
WHAT NOT TO BRING:
- no drugs on the course (including cigarettes, nicotine tablets, patches, etc.) – for a smoker like ME it was quite a challenge, even before the beginning of the course
- phone, books, notebooks, pens, not to mention laptops – they are unnecessary (if you have them with you, they are put into a safety deposit box on the first day during registration)
- no talismans, jewellery, wrist watches
WHAT YOU HAVE TO BRING (life on the course simply becomes easier):
- pillowcases for bedding and a pillow or just a sleeping bag
- blankets (they will help in the meditation hall to relieve pain during long meditation sitting and will warm the body)
- a meditation cushion (for me it really came in handy, I searched for what would be the best for me and I bought it online)
- a lot of warm clothes and socks (I would not worry about the amount of things brought with you, sitting in stillness really cools down the body, especially in winter)
- a raincoat, slippers (for dashing across the cafeteria and the house – women’s in my case) and warm shoes that are easy to take off and put on (making it easier to change the locations from the meditation room to the cafeteria, home etc.)
- cosmetics and a towel
- torch with battery supply (as I was going to meditate at 4.30 in the morning it was simply dark, and as I was returning at 9 pm in winter I couldn’t see much either)
- vacuum bottle (there is always access to boiling water and it’s nice to warm up)
- alarm clock (I did not need it after the first day, a gong woke us up at 4 o’clock)
- medications – in case you need them
- handkerchiefs (not a big thing, but it can be hard without them) and toilet paper (the paper is there, but sometimes you can run out of it, and you cannot ask about the delivery time)
10 days in silence – how to survive it?
After reading the information on the Vipassana website in Poland, I knew that the daily schedule is the same every day (waking up at 4 am, about 10 hours of meditation per day in the meditation room or in our rooms and putting off lights at 9.30pm), including regular meals (breakfast at 6.30, dinner at 11 am and tea with a fruit at 5 pm).
After the first day of registration and the first day of meditation in silence, I already knew that my cousin would not get away with this during our next meeting…
If you want to read about my ways to “survive” 10 days in silence, what was easy, what was hard for me and what I got out of it – you will find more here.