India > Community Forums > Spirituality and Religion in India
| Senior Member


How many on this forum have read about or gone in for a course(s) of Vipassana meditation. And your thoughts about the same would u like to share?
have been meditating on an off for years but would like to now try the vipassana course......

14 Replies

| Senior Member
I am currently practising transcendental meditation and am just wondering what Vipassana med is?
| Senior Member

vipassana and tm

we had a thread recently called TM where vipassana was also touched upon sorry cannot give a link as writing from a train station horrible machine
| Senior Member
mpop yr. description of what vipassana is about is pretty much the way it has been explained to me. What is interesting for me is your 'negative' experience at the Thai center.
I have seen good reviews of the centers in India. Some centers are better than others in India too.
I myself did take the Transcendental Meditation initiation course at the maharishi mahesh yogi ashram in Rishikesh. That was way back in 1977 just after my 10th class ('O' level) exams! It was a beautiful place and my first experience in receiving some guidance in meditation. Having grown up in a school wherin we got to meet and interact with J.krishnamurti, the philosopher, thro. our early years made it easier and sort of normal course of things to be exploring along such lines.
Surprisingly I had never heard of Vipassana until recently. And from 2 spiritual people who have been meditating for years and have found this to be the best 'method' for them. I am inclined to go in for a course. Just was wondering if anyone on the forum had tried it.
mpop thanks.
| Wannabe bum
I cannot speak from personal experience but I have read a LOT about Vipassana and Buddhism in general and from all indications, it is supposed to be a very beneficial technique meant towards liberation. I am taking a 10 day course (the organization website is ) in June and I am looking forward to it as well as nervous. I will post my experience after I am done if anyone is interested.

| Wannabe bum
I hear ya that its no cakewalk and trust me, I have done enough reading and research on the technique. I have no illusions of sailing through the 10 days without experiencing agony in one form or another however I am convinced that if I keep at it and do the 10 days, I will see some benefits. I have been meditating on my own for the last little while...basically just sitting and following my breath. I am well aware that knees hurt, legs hurt etc. I grit my teeth and go with it. No pain no gain ;) BTW, I am doing the course in Merritt, BC. a mountain town.

| Junior member ..... but I can play the spoons!!
I say 'Do it'. From my own experience Vipassana is a valid and helpful method, but as mentioned, it’s no cake-walk!!

But the advantage of that is since you are required to follow quite a strict discipline over the standard 10 day course, you will no doubt see benefits. Many people have a lot of physical discomfort and find it hard going, but since you have some experience in meditation you (hopefully) have established a good sitting posture and you will not have many of the sitting pains that many beginners go through. This will leave you more time to focus on the method rather than the pain!!!

As described above, the Vipassana method is all about Awareness. At first, awareness of the breath which a good neutral object to focus on, and then on sensations throughout the body and influences that come to your senses from outside.

I always like the image of these sensations as clouds coming to block out the sunshine. If I try and get mad with them for blocking out the warm sun it gets me nowhere, but if I just relax, notice them, let them come and go, I don’t get disturbed by them (errrrrr, well I try anyhow!!). Anyway, I digress.

‘mpop’ give a good description of the method. It’s centred on demonstrating the impermanence of phenomenon. Everything is born, exists and disintegrates – so there’s no real point in getting attached to them or getting all upset when they change ....... This is just the natural flow of things. This can lead to a more balanced approach to things going on in one’s life and lead to an awareness that can give a more centred and calmer approach to things that come and go.

The discipline is a good one in my opinion – you will be required to maintain what is known as ‘noble silence’ which means that (as well as not speaking for the 10 days) you are advised not to establish eye contact with anyone or exchange gestures of any kind. You are required to maintain your posture for quite a number of hours each day (which is why a well established posture is a good thing to have). The ‘Noble silence’ may sound a little extreme, but it does encourage one to go inward and examine the mind instead of relying on exterior stimulus that can prove to be quite a distraction. As a result, a whole load of emotions will come to the surface for you to examine, as well as experiences you’ve been through in your life.

Now don’t get worried or anything but ........ if you have any problems with your mental health, I suggest you ask many questions in your preparation for this as you will not be given a change to ask for guidance during the 10 day course (apart from a few minutes that is) and it can prove to be quite intensive for some people. You will be free to leave the course at any time (as many people do), but it is recommended that you stick it out until the end. And I really suggest you do stick it out, cos the whole method is definitely worthwhile.

I also suggest that you pick your centre well as some have a good environment and some not. The one in Dharamkot (Dharamsala) for instance is plagued by noise from parties in the nearby village. Ask for experiences of the particular centre you decide on.
~ "Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion" ~ H.H. XIV Dalai Lama
| Senior Member
dharmasoul many thanks for yr. informative reply. I really don't have any problem about not being able to speak to anyone for 10 days. Actually thats one of the things that attract me...Just the thought of silence and quiet and peace and a break from what seems like a vast ocean of cacophony.
Unfortunately from what u describe, what does scare me is that I would have to maintain a posture for hours!!! Apart from a bad back, which can get bad at times I find it pretty difficult to sit in one position for a while. However it would be good to try.

From my experience as an Indian, and having visited ashrams etc., I do imagine that as elsewhere the quality of the 'experience/learning' would also depend on the kind of people at the meditation center. I mean the depth of the people running the center and course. Do you have any idea about the center at Mandvi in kutch?
However I think that I have made up my mind now to go in for this course in the next few months.
Thanks all......
| Wannabe bum

Obviously something is drawing you to take this course. I think you are already very commited to it. Do not worry about your back. If you have a problem sitting on a cushion in the lotus or half-lotus posture, you will be able to use a chair to sit and that might be a bit easier on your back if you require it. I am thinking that Vipassana will have a positive impact in improving your back problem. However, do not go in with that belief hehe. I am not trying to preach here because I am a beginner myself but I am just trying to pass on what I have read about it. I guess, in the end, the both of us will find out for ourselves how beneficial the technique really is.

BTW, you mentioned Mandvi in Kutch. I grew up in Gandhidham and used to go to Mandvi with my family quite often as a kid. Fond memories of playing on the beach :-)


| Wannabe bum
Thanks for the excellent info, Dharmasoul. I am glad to hear your positive remarks and they are very encouraging for me.

I have been sitting in the half lotus posture on a buckwheat zafu for the last little while. I manage to do about 5 minutes in the full lotus position before the pain gets unbearable. I am actively working to increase the amount of time I can sit in the full lotus though :eek:

Letting go of thoughts is the hard part though ;-)

I think I won't have problems with remaining silent for 10 days. It will definitely be something new.

Anyway, the centre I am going to is a bit outside town in the mountains and I am sure is very quiet from what I have read about it. I met one person who took the course at that center but it never occured to me to ask him if there were any noise problems. I doubt it though since he mentioned that it was a great experience for him and it required "courage".

When did you take the course ?

| Senior Member
Phew! Thats a relief, not having to sit lotus or cross legged on the floor. Thanks Seeker. And I'll let all know of how it went... It would be interesting to hearing from others too.

Small world u r from Gujarat? I've been to mandvi and cycled along its endless beaches. In fact whilst i didn't visit gandhidam, I did cycle all over Kutch. It was and is among cherished memories that I have. I used to sleep in the fields or villagers would provide me a meal and shelter for the night. The kutchis are lovely people. At least I had a good experience!
| Senior Member

back pain

indiawise, do you use meditation cusion? it does make things easier. if you can't sit in lotus or semi-lotus you can sit on your meditation cusion with your knees on both sides.

one of the ways of dealing with pain during meditation is use it as "practice aid" - ie focus on letting go of pain the same way as you focus on letting go of thoughts

btw a great book on insight meditation (with "how to deal with pain" chapter) is Mindfulness in Plain English, available for free on line

what makes people complete a full 10 day course? vipassana is translated as "insight" meditation, and the only way to enlightenment according to the basic Buddhism (don't quote me on this but I've seen many many Buddhist meditation books entitled something like "meditation - the only way")

so, people interested in Buddhism I imagine make the majority of such 10 days retreat, and knowing the objective of meditation and how it fits into the Buddhist context is the main motivation

lastly, eating only liquid food after midday is the way for Buddhist monks to preserve energies for inner work rather than body maintenance

i think NIR did the Goenka 10 day course, may be he can share experience...
| Senior Member

useful links from Meditation in Plain Eng

what to do with your body (posture etc):

dealing with problems (incl pain):
| Wannabe bum
Originally posted by indiawise
Phew! Thats a relief, not having to sit lotus or cross legged on the floor. Thanks Seeker. And I'll let all know of how it went... It would be interesting to hearing from others too.

Small world u r from Gujarat? I've been to mandvi and cycled along its endless beaches. In fact whilst i didn't visit gandhidam, I did cycle all over Kutch. It was and is among cherished memories that I have. I used to sleep in the fields or villagers would provide me a meal and shelter for the night. The kutchis are lovely people. At least I had a good experience!

My family is from U.P, I was born in U.P. but since I grew up in Gujarat, I consider myself Gujarati as well and you are right the Gujarati people and specially the Kutchi people are wonderful. Lots of memories of that area.....Bhuj, Mandvi etc...

| Junior member ..... but I can play the spoons!!

Some tips for posture

I’d like to offer a few tips to improve sitting posture in the hope they might be helpful. They have worked for me in the past, but it may be just me! Anyway, experimentation is the key – small adjustments to your posture and you will find a balanced and rooted spot for you to feel comfortable in.

I really recommend that you sit on a high cushion at first so you butt is somewhat higher than your knees. Sitting with no or a very low cushion does create tension in your ligaments that can be painful. They need to be stretched by lots of practice to be comfortable sitting on a low cushion.

I never sit in the full lotus. It’s been said to me on many occasions that the full lotus should only be done after good constant practice because it’s better to train the mind first. Full lotus is better practiced when you have all the muscles and tendons stretched well. The only essential element is to have the back straight in order to have the channels open. This can also be done sitting in a chair, but you have to be careful cos it’s easy to relax your posture too much in a chair and get a little sleepy.

Sit with the back edge of you butt on the front edge of the cushion. Believe it or not, the cutting off of the circulation in your lower legs occurs in the hip section and not in your leg section. You can see this by allowing one of your legs to go dead, then rolling your weight onto your one buttock (the buttock belonging to the none dead leg) as if you’re going to errrrrr, break wind! [Blush] You will then have the ever so wonderful funky feeling of all the blood rushing back into your dead leg and you’ll be able to wiggle your toes again. This rolling onto one buttock can be refined to a very minimal movement with a little practice as you find exactly where the spot where the blood flow is blocked. This can be done without flexing your legs or moving your posture (apart from the little rolling movement) and will hopefully not disturb your focus too much.

Also stretch the tendons in your hip area by leaning very forward for a couple of seconds while sitting in posture (not as far as touching your nose to the floor or anything like that!!). Sometimes you will feel one of them go 'ping' as it’s stretched and moves over the hip bone to another position. This can really be helpful to release tension that you may feel in your upper legs because your tendons are still in the standing up positions and haven’t moved to sitting positions.

To help minimize backpressure and the resulting pain – practice sitting as if your spine is made of a pile of coins. Feel as if that each of the bones in your spine is a coin that sits with weight on top of the coin below it. Try not to sit which bolt upright rigidness because this requires a lot of tension and work in your muscles to maintain (which can result in muscle pains). Rather really feel that the pile of coins is supporting your body and all your weight is centred and balanced right at the base of your back on the forward edge of your cushion. Sway from side to side to find a good, balanced and solid spot. Really relax your shoulders, try not to hold then high up and tense, hold them so your chest is open.

As I say, these bits prove helpful for me and have been given to me by others along the way. An Oz friend of mine really fell in love with the rolling-buttock-blood-rush-feeling!! ........ And used to really wait to get a really good dead leg to get that rush!

As ever, I do go on and on!!! But hopefully there is some help to someone in all the above.

Anybody have any other tips?
~ "Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion" ~ H.H. XIV Dalai Lama

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