In today’s world, everyone is seeking mental peace and solitude to escape from the chaos of our daily routine. However, as time passes, we all feel irritated with our lives and the similar schedule that we follow every day. So, today I’ll talk about something that will render you inner peace and harmony- It’s Vipassana Meditation.
Well, every one of you might already be aware of the term ‘Meditation’. Still, in this article, I’ll let you know the difference between Vipassana and other various types of meditation. Now, let us dive into this umbrella term and explore some interesting facts about it!
What is Vipassana Meditation?
Are you eager to know what Vipassana is? Well, the term Vipassana means ‘Insight’. It is one of the most ancient Indian techniques of meditation. Humans lost this technique long ago and were rediscovered by the ascetic and spiritual leader- Gautama Buddha.
Vipassana means seeing things in their actual state and as they are. It is the process of introspection and self-purification. Do you sometimes fail to make a life decision calmly? Do you feel that anxiety is taking control of your mind? Then, Vipassana meditation is the ultimate solution for you.
This technique can eradicate your sufferings and allows you to take life decisions calmly and in a balanced way. Moreover, this technique eliminates the major causes of you being unhappy. These causes include Greed, Anger and Desire.
About S.N Goenka
Satya Narayan Goenka was the foremost teacher who taught Vipassana Meditation techniques. Mr S.N Goenka was born and brought up in Myanmar, Burma, but of Indian descent.
While staying in Myanmar, he was fortunate enough to get in touch with Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who taught him Vipassana meditation techniques. After gaining a training of 14 years from his teacher, S.N Goenka got settled in India and started offering Vipassana teaching in 1969.
In a country like India, where the people are still divided by religion and caste, Mr Goenka’s teaching brought people together and from every section of the society.
Mr S.N Goenka was also the recipient of several honours and awards during his entire lifetime, including the prestigious Padma Awards from India’s President in 2012. Sadly, Satya Narayan Goenka took his last breath in September 2013 at the age of 89 and left behind an everlasting legacy of Vipassana meditation.
History of Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana is one of India’s oldest meditation techniques which boasts a rich history of 2500 years back in time. The spiritual leader and teacher, Gautama Buddha, spent the last 45 years of his life rendering knowledge of how to break free from all sorts of sufferings.
Through Vipassana, Gautama Buddha taught this technique, which he learned after his enlightenment in 528 BCE. The Vipassana meditation spread over Buddha’s homeland in India for approx five centuries, after which it reigned supreme during the time of Ashoka- The Emperor.
Emperor Ashoka successfully created a golden era of peace and prosperity by bringing India together. The emperor’s reach also spread to the nearby kingdoms, including Myanmar. Therefore, Vipassana also reached beyond the Indian borders.
However, this meditation technique gradually disappeared from India after 500 years of being first practised. Vipassana was adopted in Myanmar which kept the technique alive, and the teachers who were responsible for spreading this meditation technique also became responsible for its resurgence.
This art of meditation was brought to India by S.N Goenka and is still practised today.
How can we differentiate Vipassana from other forms of meditation?
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or started with meditation recently, you might wonder how and what makes the Vipassana meditation technique different from other forms of meditation. Well, Vipassana is a combination of two types of meditation practices:
- Samatha Meditation (Mindfulness)
- Vipassana Meditation (Self- Awareness)
Samatha is a meditation practice about which many people are aware of. While doing this type of meditation, you’re encouraged to calm your mind and acknowledge everything in your environment without judging them.
Are you wondering how is this possible? Well, all you need to do is concentrate on your breathing and focus on your exhales and inhales. It frees your mind and keeps it quiet. As one keeps practising Samatha, he notices that all his negative thoughts start to fade away as soon as he takes deep breaths.
It helps in relaxation and pushes the person forward on the path of enlightenment by empowering them with a greater sense of self-direction.
Vipassana is the next step after Samatha, and it builds mindfulness that is created in Samatha or any other meditation style you follow. It allows the person to sit back with all the thoughts and feelings that arose during the quiet time of meditation.
On one hand, Samatha allows a person to acknowledge thoughts and release them, whereas, on the other hand, Vipassana encourages the meditators to deal with these thoughts before letting them go. This encounter of the person with his thoughts introduces self-awareness to find the real cause behind his sufferings.
How to practice Vipassana Meditation at Home?
You can start with Vipassana meditation anytime, but the most suggested way to learn this meditation technique is by joining a Vipassana meditation retreat and learning from an experienced instructor.
However, you can also follow the below steps to attain peace:
- Look around for a quiet and comfortable place. It is the foremost step if you want to introspect yourself and your thoughts. Any interruptions can result in breaking your concentration. Do you want to know about some of the suggested places to perform Vipassana meditation? So, some of the ideal places for performing Vipassana meditation includes sitting under a tree, a quiet corner at a local park, sitting in your bedroom with some candles and essential oil, trying to find such a place that provides you seclusion and makes you feel safe at the same time.
- The ideal position is to sit cross-legged or sit on a meditation proof or pillow. If you have any medical issues, you can also sit on a chair. No matter what path you choose, always make sure you sit upright and straight.
- Once you are seated comfortably, close your eyes and gather focus on your breathing. Try to notice the changes in your belly as you inhale and exhale. Along with this, try to concentrate on your feelings and sensations.
- Did you feel a piece of baggage on your shoulders or something that makes you feel anxious? Now that you know about your thoughts breathe into these feelings. Start sending your breath into the areas that make you feel discomfort. Even if your mind starts distracting, try to bring the focus back to breathing.
- Repeat this process. You can start by meditating for 5-10 minutes if you’re a beginner and then slowly raise it to 20 minutes or 1 hour. Remember that Vipassana meditation is not time-bound. You can continue with this throughout your entire day.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation delivers a sense of peace, balance and tranquillity that benefits emotional well-being and health. Some people think that the benefits of meditation come to an end as soon as the meditation session ends, but this is not the case.
In reality, the benefits of meditation can be carried out calmly throughout your day and can also help you deal with your medical conditions. In addition, whenever you meditate, you may be able to fade away from the negative thoughts that contribute to your stress. Some of the emotional benefits of meditations are as follows:
- Attaining a different perspective on stressful situations.
- Developing skills for managing your stress.
- Escalating your self-awareness.
- Decreasing your negative emotions.
- Strengthening your tolerance and patience.
- Meditation can also help deal with anxiety and asthma
- Reduces the symptoms of depression.
- Helps in retaining the power of your brain.
- Lowers the blood pressure.
- Helps in enhancing the Serotonin levels.
- Helpful in building the inner strength of a person.
- Helps to cope up with the pain.
- Encourages you to become your cheerleader.
- Promotes mindful eating.
- Helps you to deal with the uncomfortable situations in life.
- Plays an essential role in fighting addictions.
- Boosts your self-esteem.
- Helps to cope up with traumatic situations.
- Makes you more observant.
- Makes you feel more empathetic.
Vipassana Meditation Timetable
|04:00 AM||MORNING WAKE UP BELL|
|07:00-08:00 AM||BATH/REST ETC.|
|08:00-09:00 AM||GROUP MEDITATION IN HALL|
|09:00-11:00 AM||MEDITATION, AS PER INSTRUCTIONS|
|02:30-3:30 PM||GROUP MEDITATION IN HALL|
|03:30-5:00 PM||MEDITATION, AS PER INSTRUCTIONS|
|05:00-5:30 PM||TEA BREAK/LEMON WATER|
|06:00-7:00 PM||GROUP MEDITATION IN HALL|
|07:05-8:30 PM||TEACHER’S DISCOURSE IN HALL|
|08:30-9:00 PM||GROUP MEDITATION IN HALL|
|09:00-9:30 PM||QUESTION TIME IN HALL|
|9:30 PM||RETIRE TO OWN ROOM|
Famous Personalities doing Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation helps purify one’s mind, and practising it paves the way for increased concentration and benefits the body in several ways. Vipassana is practised by several famous personalities all over the world. So, let us look at some of the famous personalities who performed Vipassana and helped them in their betterment.
- Shri Ram Nath Kovind – The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, spoke about Vipassana and its benefits on a special occasion. He addressed the practical way this meditation technique cleanses our mind and equips a person to face the stressful situations of his life. Moreover, the President also said that -” Vipassana can do good to the entire humanity.”
- Shrimati Pratibha Patil – A Vipassana practitioner herself, Shrimati Pratibha Patil is the Former President of India. She believes that Vipassana is a form of meditation that seeks to bring inner peace and a different perspective through control over the mind and purity of an individual’s heart.
- Kiran Bedi – Dr Kiran Bedi is India’s first and highest woman ranking officer to join the Indian Police Service in 1972. She initiated the practice of Meditation in the Tihar Jail and believed that her life completely changed after she joined the Vipassana course. She believed that it led to reforming thousands of lives of erstwhile crime.
- Arvind Kejriwal – The current Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, has also attended many Vipassana courses and was rejuvenated after that. It helped the CM restore his mental well being and positively benefited him.
- Arbaaz Khan – An Indian film actor, director and producer, Arbaaz Khan is a Vipassana practitioner and has shared his experience. According to him, meditation has increased his self-confidence and helped him deal with the stresses and strains of his life in a better way.
How to Reach Vipassana Dhamma Sota Sohna Centre, New Delhi
By Rented Car/Ola/Uber or Taxi
You can hire taxis from any place in New Delhi. The rate is approximately Rs. 2000 to the centre.
Journey by Car or Taxi from New Delhi via Gurgaon
- Take the Jaipur Highway i.e. NH-8. from Delhi Airport or New Delhi
- Cross the toll
- Take left turn from Exit 10 that is from Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon.
- You will reach Sohna Road. From there travel 22km.
- After reaching at the Bhiwadi -Palwal-Alwar junction, take the road to Palwal.
- After traveling 4km, turn left on the Sohna- Ballabhgarh highway
- After traveling 6 km, a big hoarding of ‘Dhammasota’ across the road will be seen
- You have to take right turn from here. This is also called Nimmod police post.
- After traveling 1 km and you will reach Dhamma Sota on your right side.
Journey by Car or Taxi from New-Delhi via Faridabad
- Travel to Ashram crossing and take the Mathura Road.
- After reaching Faridabad, turn right towards Batkal Lake.
- Reach the roundabout after crossing the fly-over
- Cover about 8-9 km after turning left from the roundabout
- Search for a T-crossing. You will see Sohna-Ballabhgarh road. Travel about 15 km after taking
- You will see big banner across the road of Dhammasota. This is also known as Nimmod Police Post.
- Take left from here and travel about 1 km to reach the Dhamma Sota centre.
Another Route using Sikhri road
- After reaching Ballabhgarh flyover, travel for about 2km and take the right turn towards Sikhri road.
- You will see Pir Ki Dargah.
- After Pir Ki Dargah take right turn.
- Head towards Sikrona village.
- After traveling 12-14 km you will reach Dhamma Sota Centre
By bus via Ballabhgarh
- Reach Sarai Kale Khan Bus Stand or ISBT Bus Stand from New Delhi
- You will get inter-state bus to Ballabhgarh
- After reaching Ballabhgarh Bus Terminal you will have two options.
Option 1: Take bus for Sohna via Samarthala and get down at Dhammasota Centre
Option 2: Take Sohna-Pali bus and get down at Village Nimmod.
From Village Nimmodh Dhamma Sota is approx 1.5 kms away. You can walk
or hire an auto.
Bus Route via Sohna
- Travel to Sarai Kale Khan Bus Stand or ISBT Bus Stand from New Delhi
- Take inter-state bus to Sohna
- At Sohna take a tempo/rickshaw and travel to Nimmod Police Post.
- From Nimmod Police Post, Dhamma Sota is 1 km away.
Route by bus via Gurgaon
- Reach Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon from New-Delhi Airport / New Delhi with help of an inter-state bus
- With help of shared auto, reach Bhiwadi Ballabhgarh Palwal junction from Rajiv Chowk
- Hire an auto/rickshaw to Nimmod police post
- From there Dhamma Sota is about 1 km away
- You can travel by foot or hire an auto.
Metro via Ballabhgarh
- Reach Raja Nahar Singh Metro Station (Ballabhgarh) with help of the Violet line.
- From Raja Nahar Singh Metro Station (Ballabhgarh) travel to Ballabhgarh Bus Terminal. There you will get a bus.
You have 2 options:
Option 1: Take bus for Sohna via Samarthala and reach at Dhammasota Centre
Option 2: Take Sohna-Pali bus and reach village Nimmod. From village Nimmodh, Vipassana Dhamma Sota center is approx 1.5 kms away. You can go by foot or hire an auto.
Metro via Gurgaon
- Reach Huda Centre with help of Yellow Line
- Hire/take an auto to Sohna Road
- From there, you can take a shared auto to Bhiwadi- Ballabhgarh- Palwal Junction
- After reaching Bhiwadi- Ballabhgarh- Palwal Junction, take a shared auto to Nimmod Police Post.
- Dhamma Sota is 1km walking distance from Nimmod Police Post
Train via Ballabhgarh
- Local EMU trains run from New Delhi Railway Station (If you are in New Delhi), reach at Ballabhagarh Railway Station.
- From Ballabhgarh station go to the Ballabhgarh Bus Terminal
- From Ballabhgarh Bus Terminal you will have two options.
Option 1: Take a bus for Sohna via Samarthala and reach at Dhammasota Centre
Option 2: Take Sohna-Pali bus and reach Nimmod village.
From village Nimmodh, Vipassana Dhamma Sota is about 1.5 kms away. You can walk
or hire an auto.
- Take a flight to New Delhi from anywhere in India or abroad. There are two options
Option 1: Hire a Ola/Uber/taxi from the airport and go to the Vipassana Dhamma Sota centre via Gurgaon. (Refer above ‘Route by Car or Taxi from New Delhi via Gurgaon’)
Option 2: Travel by a bus from the airport and go to the Vipassana Dhamma Sota centre via Gurgaon. (Refer above ‘Route by bus via Gurgaon’ or ‘Route by bus via Sohna’)
My Vipassana Experience Story
A lot was going on in my life. I left my job in 2019 to have some time for myself. That was a crazy decision as I left my promotion, the gratuity period was close enough and an appealing offer for junior management. For me, peace of mind was more important at that time. I came to New Delhi for preparations and soon I realized that I am still going in the same direction where I did not want to go. I was lost. I was searching for a reset button.
I heard about Vipassana on Internet. I searched more about it and came to know that Sandeep Maheshwari also went there. Later on, I saw an article in which Delhi CM went there for 10 Days session and other videos of UPSC aspirants about it. This search hardly revealed what actually happens there. I only knew that some sort of meditation is done. It was the first week of Dec 2020 when I applied for Dhamma Sota, New Delhi Location. I got a mail regarding the course confirmation for 6th-17th Jan 2021. I thought what is better than this than having meditation in the first week of the year. My elder brother Anil and I live together in New Delhi. I told him that I am going for 10 days meditation course and that the food and accommodation is free. My brother asked me that how they providing it for free.
The scene was like ACP Pradyuman saying “Daya, Kuch to gadbad hai”, and I said maybe because of donations. My brother said how it is possible that they are not charging any penny and giving free food and accommodations. I said I don’t know but I am going. After few days I called my father and told him about it. My father said, “Good, what benefits will you get after the course?”. I was silent. I did not have any convincing answer. All I said,” It will improve my concentration Paa”. Here is an interesting part, If I ever need to take part in anything and need my father’s permission, I always add something related to my studies. He happily grants permission for it always.
Dhamma Sota, New Delhi Day Tour
A week before I started making a list of the things for packing. My heart was not fully agreed to go. It was in a dilemma. To make my heart feel good I said it is just a 10 days break and just enjoy it. I knew about the timetable of Vipassana so I tried to wake up at 4 am and do meditation for 2 hours but this lasted for 1 day only. Finally, the day has come 6-Jan-2021 and it was raining outside. My brother said mockingly, “Why are you going there? You can do it here only and how you are going to survive without the phone and talking for straight 10 days?” I said I don’t know. My Ola cab driver was waiting for me in the rain. I took my 2 pieces of luggage and went outside.
The Ola driver was a funny man. He seems to be from New Delhi or Haryana. His accent was also similar to a guy from New Delhi and I asked him about it. Contrary to my belief he was from Bihar. He was working here for decades with his wife and a child. We had a great conversation about how he survived lockdown and how he managed loans in that period. He told me about his child who was suffering from a rare seizure problem and how many doctors refused to give satisfactory answers that someday his child will be alright.
We in life think that we are suffering from great problems and when we see others we realize that our problems are nothing. I felt sorry for him. I could do nothing. All I did was suggesting him to try Prayanam and Kapalbhati yoga for his child and visit Neeb Karoli Baba Temple in Kainchi Dhaam as I heard something related to it. Around one and a half hours passed by and finally, we reached our destination.
My heart was throbbing as the fear of being alone in the room without the phone and without talking for straight 10 days was prevailing over me. The fear got doubled after watching an ambulance in that area. People were standing in the queue to submit mobile, wallet, and amulets, and rings. I was okay to submit my mobile and wallet but I was not ready to open my 2 tangled amulets which my parents gave me to wear when I got frightened in childhood. I always tried very hard at home to separate these two tangled amulets but failed. There were strict instructions not to keep such items with you. Just to follow, I took it out of my neck and kept it in the bag which was allowed to take with me.
There were two separate counters for males and females. I thought there were many old people participants but contrary to my belief, that was a mixed crowd. I can see people of age from around 23 to 50 plus. When I was in a queue I saw that a gentleman doing confirmations of registration and room allotment said to a student that his name is not there. The guy asked to check again but the gentleman could not find it. So the worried guy took the list himself and check for his name. “Here it is uncle, Shah Rukh Khan” that’s my name. I thought about how one feels when you come from a distant place packing for 10 days just to hear that your name is not on the list. I have this bad habit of giggling whenever I see any such incident like this and the one of the presence of ambulance on the campus. After 10 mins I got my room number which was M46.
I went there to keep my belongings. I examined the room. It was very clean and just to see how it looks out of the window, I opened it and just to add more fun to my fear, God has given me a sacred fig, a Peepal tree just behind my room. I thought I am done. Now from my childhood stories and horror movies, this thought that some ghost or spirit lives at Peepal tree started coming into my mind. I said to myself giggling “this is going to be do or die situation, Prashant. Be ready!”. I locked my room to have something to eat at the registration counter area. As I was doing so my neighbor came to me saying rooms are clean and tidy, isn’t it? And I said yes.
Dhamma Sota, New Delhi Night Tour
As I walked out of the block I met Shah Rukh. He was 23 and was thinking to prepare for the UPSC exams. We were talking about how we came to know about Vipassana Meditation Course. We walked towards the kitchen section to have some food. I should admit that the management so far was wonderfully done. I can see tea, biscuits, dates and they have arranged lunch also.
After having lunch we came back to our blocks where we met Jitu Sir. He was from Gorakhpur and was working for some consultancy group which had an assignment with my previous company and I knew a person which was working with us and Jitu sir knew him. So we soon get feeling related. I was feeling a little bit comfortable now. We three people as a group wandering, laughing, and mocking others within ourselves. The whole area is filled with greenery. You can see peacocks roaming here and there. The environment was very calm and pleasant. There was a boy from Jaunpur who was preparing for UPSC in New Delhi also. There were in fact more numbers of aspirants who have come for the course.
It was evening time. We all gathered in the kitchen section for some tea and instructions. It was time to begin the noble silence. For the entire 10 days session we have to keep quiet. We can’t do any gesture also with one another. We can talk to Assistant Teacher and Dhamma Sevak only when it is very necessary or in case of emergency. Dhamma Sevak is a person who has already done the course and came to serve others by his own will. Our Dhamma Sevak, Rajesh, was a hard-working guy and I could sense some sort of suffering or pain he would have in the past in his eyes and feeling of not giving up against them. The sitting number was allotted for the meditation hall. There were meditation cushions properly arranged in the hall.
I got a seat somewhere in the center and second-row right to the entrance. I could see people coming and going easily. By chance, Shah Rukh was sitting just to my left and Jitu Sir far away in the right back corner. The guy from Jaunpur was sitting left to Shah Rukh. In front of me, a guy from South India was sitting. His name was Mahesh. He looked similar to my one of the colleague and a friend Gundu sir from my last organization. He always supports me. I felt that my people sitting near me which made the start of the session a little bit more comfortable. Behind me, there was a guy who looked similar to a monk as he was bald and no beard. It reminded me of the book “The monk who sold his Ferrari” by Robin Sharma. The Assistant Teacher used to sit in front of the group and the Dhamma Sevak beside him.
There was a projector for recorded preaching being done by Guruji Shri S.N Goenka about Vipassana Meditation. Vipassana means seeing things as they are. This meditation technique was taught by Lord Buddha 2000 years back. We did meditation for about 2 hours and there was an orientation briefing about the next 10 days course. Guruji told that “it is a tough task to remain here for 10 days away from family, friends and we must utilize it. He said Vipassana requires a lot of patience and hard work. It is a kind of operation of the heart. We will go deeper and deeper as the days pass. People come here by thinking that it’s a holiday vacation or a 10 days break but we should take it seriously”. My heart started pounding after hearing the word “operation of heart” and I just giggled at it as I told my heart that we are here for some break. Guruji told that some people usually leave on day 2 or day 6 and to this, I asked myself. Why? I became anxious and I prepared myself to be strong for day 2 and day 6.
At around 9:00 pm the day 0, the orientation was over. Everybody was following the noble silence. We headed back to our respected rooms. I washed my face, changed my clothes, and prepared my bed to sleep. I was trying hard to sleep. I never slept at this time and used to sleep around 2 am at that time before coming. It was already 1 am. I started feeling sleepy and to ruin it, the thought of not wearing the amulets and a “Peepal tree” just behind my room started coming to my mind. Old thoughts and fear started coming. My childhood memories and emotions took place in my heart replacing my sleep.
Thoughts were getting multiplied and I rushed to open the lights and started searching my bag for the amulet. I found it and clutched it in my hand keeping it closed to my heart. I switched off the lights and laid down to sleep. I started chanting “Bajrang Baan” and started thinking of Hanuman Ji. Bajrang Baan is kind of similar to Hanuman Chalisa. After 4-5 recitations, I finally slept at around 3 am, and at 4 am the campus gong rang. Dhamma Sevak started ringing bells which they carry with themselves to remind students that it is time for group meditation in the hall. I woke up, kept my amulet which was lying beside my pillow on the table, remembered Hanuman Ji, brushed my teeth, and rushed towards the hall for group meditation which starts at 4:30 am.
It was the 7th of Jan 2021. About 30-35 students were meditating in the meditation hall. It is easy to do something when we all do it together and hard when it is done alone. Everybody was calm and focused. From 4:30 am to 6:30 we did meditation and after it, we went for breakfast. Breakfast timing was from 6:30 to 7:15. The arrangement was good. In the kitchen, there were racks available for the plates having room numbers on them, and sitting was also numbered. As it was the Corona period, everything was arranged keeping it in mind. There was bread, porridge or dalia, pure milk, tea, and fruits.
For new students, you can take as much as you want. For old students, it was limited. Our Dhamma Sevak, Rajesh, and another person used to serve the food. By appearance this another person was very strict and disciplined and I always hesitate to ask some more food from him. I took my food and sat at my seat number M46. To my left was the person from M45 and I must admit his diet was good and to my right was this guy from Jaunpur and Shah Rukh was sitting right to him. After finishing our breakfast we went for a bath and some rest between 7:15 and 8:00. We had group meditation from 8:00-9:00 in the meditation hall and 2 hours of meditation either in the hall or residence as per the assistant teacher’s instructions. We were said to meditate in residence from 9:00-11:00 and this was the time when I completed my last night’s sleep.
I was feeling recharged after the 2 hours nap and I was pretty sure that the management knew we need it as many of us was a late-night person. We went for lunch between 11:00-11:45. After again 1 hour rest from 11:45 to 1:00 pm, we went for meditation. I was sitting in the hall when my eyes saw this person walking in a strict and authoritative manner wearing a yellow jacket which hangs up to his knees. Another person near to him seems me to be Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible movie. He has that attitude and style in his walk and staring. There was straight 4 hours meditation from 1 to 5 pm with 5 mins breaks in between. For day 1 we have to focus our breath only. It was a simple task for me as I used to do it for last many years.
Thought sitting for 10 hours a day was altogether a difficult task. I always used to open my legs and my eyes in between meditation and sit loose as my back starts to pain. Just to see what is happening around I saw Jitu Sir meditating in a disciplined manner and there was one guy who kept a handkerchief on his face to be focused. I giggled at it and started again. The meditation ends at 9 pm after tea between 5-6 pm and Guruji’s discourse from 7 to 8:30 pm. It was a recorded presentation. A guy wearing a black jacket hoody enters in the hall back from where the assistant teacher sits. Drops down the white presentation screen and starts the pre-recorded discourse of Guruji.
During the Guruji’s discourse, some people used to take their cushions and went back to sit leaning on the wall. I remember that there was this guy who was very fearless. He used to yawn with his full power as if no one is there in the hall and when the discourse ends he takes his cushions, comes to his place, and bangs the cushion on the floor making a loud noise in the hall. I was unable to stop my laughter. Day one was over. We did 10 hours of meditation and I felt nothing special.
There were a lot of questions in my mind. I have this nature to think a lot in advance about upcoming days which does nothing but make me feel worried and uncomfortable. I still remember that I made an excel sheet about my 60 years of life. How much money do I need to save? When I will marry and how many kids we will have and expenses related to all these and their education so that I can save money through mutual funds and SIPs back in 2017 when I was working as an Engineer in Gwalior.
Coming back to Vipassana. I was thinking Is it what we are going to do whole 10 days? Am I doing it correctly? And so on. Guruji told in the discourse that people add or subtract steps in the technique. They do not follow what is said to do. They make their own steps and gets nothing from the session. I was among those guys. He further said not to add or subtract anything in the technique just follow what is being taught. I took it very seriously and followed the technique religiously.
Day 1 was over. It was night time. My knee, calf, and especially my back was paining. I washed my face and got straight into bed after remembering Lord Hanuman Ji and switching off the lights. The same thing happened. Fear started coming into my mind which got multiplied with different thoughts from the past and again I was unable to sleep. The whole night I was in broken sleep.
I took my amulet, kept it beside my pillow, and started chanting Bajrang Baan in my mind and my mind was saying to my heart to keep quiet and sleep but the thoughts were uncontrollable and so the fear was. I was unable to find out the exact reason for fear. Was it that Pipal tree? Was it something else or just my own childhood thoughts and fear? Whatever it was, the amulet and those recitations kept me calm. I started thinking that I came here to relax and find a reset button not to get fear like this. I did not even think about it as I have never removed my 4 rings from my hands, 3 in right and 1 in the left which was given by my Pandit Ji, and especially the amulet from my neck.
The next day went the same focusing on the breath. Again I felt nothing special but I was more focused than on day one. There were multiple thoughts coming into my mind. Old memories started coming. I was glad after completing the second day as Guruji told that some people usually leave on the second day. The boy from Jaunpur went to the assistant teacher to take permission to leave but the teacher softly denied that the meditation will help him in his studies. He was preparing for the UPSC exams.
On the third day when I was doing meditation, I noticed that this guy is not there and the guy from room number 45 confirmed me this by whispering while we were having lunch. This guy from room number 45 was very talkative. I just nodded to him as we were following the noble silence. Questions started coming into my mind. Will I be able to complete it or I shall too leave.
I told myself to be strong while eating daal and chawal. On the third day, we have to focus on the nose and upper lip along with the breath making it a triangle. In the first half, I didn’t felt anything and in the second half, I don’t know why I started feeling uneasy.
I started to control myself. In the 5 mins break, I went to the Dhamma Sevak and told him quietly that I not feeling well and have some uneasiness to which he replied that it happens. It is part of the meditation. Those words were calming but not enough to calm my uneasiness completely. I again went into the hall and started doing meditation. I motivated myself to continue but failed to concentrate. Questions started coming into my mind. Why am I doing this? What is the need for all these exercises? I should be studying in my room. It is enough. I can not do this anymore. At some point, I thought I am going to be the next guy to leave. I again ran outside while others were meditating, towards the kitchen to have sugar and saltwater.
While I was going towards the kitchen I saw that guy who connects the projector for the discourse and waved him to help. I told him everything. He asked another person in the management if it ok to give sugar and saltwater. He said yes to it. We both went into the kitchen. He gave me the drink and said,” Do not leave. You will realize in the end”. I nodded him trying to maintain the noble silence.
Those words and that sugar and saltwater gave me some strength. I went back for the meditation trying hard to continue. I told myself, “Prashant you have to do it. You are a soldier and a soldier never quits until he dies. You have to fight. Everything is going to be alright” And started recalling scenes from the movie Fury – a movie about 4 soldiers trying to accomplish a mission just with their tank.
Day third passed by. That night I slept and forgot to keep the amulets beside my pillow. When I laid down to sleep I don’t know when I went into a deep sleep just after 1 hour. I think this was because of the 10 hours of meditation I was doing. Every day I was going deeper and deeper.
My memories good or bad started flashing in front of me. On the 4th and 5th day, the meditation became more focused. Now we have to focus on the upper part of the lips and under the nose along with the breath. There was a small session in the second half when all students were divided into small groups and we went to another small meditation dhamma hall where the assistant teacher asks us about any issues or any doubts. In this session, students were allowed to speak very little and ask any questions.
In my group, there were 4 people. Dhamma Sevak Rajesh used to call us by silently whispering or touching us while we do meditation in the main hall. Our turn came and we four went there. There was another group inside the mini dhamma hall discussing with the teacher. We four were sitting outside on the chairs. We could hear things clearly from inside. Students were asking questions and clearing their doubts when suddenly one of the students asked,” Sir, Background music band nai ho raha h”. We all four bust out in the laughter. The 5th day was over and I was happy as I have completed half the battle.
I never took my amulets with me while I was meditating there. I always kept it on the table in the room but in the night of 5th day I don’t know why I was feeling more fear and uneasy before the discourse so I took the amulet in my left pocket with the handkerchief in my trouser. On the 6th morning, the real Vipassana meditation started. We have to focus on sensations of different body parts now. I was able to sense those when I entered on 6th day. We have focus sensations from head to face coming down to neck and other body parts. When I was doing meditation, deep down in my heart, all memories started coming out. It was happening from day 2 but more intense this time. I don’t know what happened.
My eyes filled and I tried hard but it was out of control. I rushed outside the meditation hall at around 5:30 AM controlling myself not to weep. As I was going to the room I saw Shah Rakh coming towards the hall. I changed my path. It was a foggy winter morning. I reached my room, locked up inside and as I sat on the bed, I burst out in tears. “I am sorry mama for not understanding your pain and loneliness when you were present. I never cared for you. I was a stupid child. I am sorry Paa for not staying with you that night and leaving you alone for my stupid job when you were constantly asking to stay with you. I am sorry Bhaiya and Bhabhi for misbehaving and fighting with you. I never meant to hurt you. I always wanted your progress in life. Forgive me. I am sorry Nipun for not helping you financially when you and your family needed it most. Please forgive me. I am sorry Paa for not coming home from last two years. You were constantly calling me. I am bad son. I wasted my whole life for stupid things. I am coming home Paa, I am coming home.” were the words I was uttering and sobbing. My both hands covering my face and tears were running down from my hands.
I collected myself to go to the meditation hall and I stood up. I reached to search my handkerchief which was in my left pocket and as I drew it out and an amulet came along with it. It was untangled. I sat down again on bed and started crying. My hands crossed and touching forehead and the untangled amulet hanging down from my hand. The morning Azaan started in the nearby village exactly at 6:00 am. Threads which I was trying to separate from many years are now untangled. Gururji told in the beginning,”Saari Ganthe Khul Jayegi- All knots will be untangled” And here I was.
Day 6th passed and in the evening at night, I was in a very deep sleep. I haven’t slept so deep in the last many years. On days 7 and 8, I was able to feel every sensation occurring in my body. Guruji told to make maximum use of time. We were allotted Pagoda cells. Pagoda is a temple in which separate meditation cells are present. The students can go there and meditate. Guruji told that these sensations either good or bad, we have to observe them and not react to them.
These sensations will come and go. These are mortal. These are like wild animals coming to harm you and as you feed it more it gets more and more hungry. Guruji was a great storyteller. He used to make us understand everything with help of stories. I always used to wait for the evening discourse. Everything that takes birth has to die and has to reappear in another form. This is the universal law of nature and we are constantly changing every second. When we sleep and when we woke up, we are two different persons. This made me realize that I have spent my whole life on things that do not matter even 0.1% and that I have wasted half of my life. So that day I decided to focus on what actually matters as I realized that life is very short. Relationships, friends, Family, and value addition to society had become my top priority.
On the 8th day during the discourse, it started again. I was feeling fearful and uneasy. The haunting dreams and memories of childhood started coming. For the first time knowingly I kept the amulets with me in the meditation hall in my pocket. This time in daylight also I was feeling fear. In the second half when I was unable to control for the first time I went to the assistant teacher to discuss. I was feeling uncomfortable to discuss it as other students were standing behind and nearby and they can hear it but I have to ask it. I told him about my childhood fears and how I feel protected when I wear the amulet. He responded very calmly that there is nothing outside. It is all a game of the sub-conscious mind.
It is your old “Sanskar”. Let it come and go. I didn’t understand it. In my mind, I was saying that nobody has faced that fear. I only know about it. What if that fear comes and I am unable to do anything. My second thought was if whatever my assistant teacher said was true and the fear goes out then I will serve 10 poor people free food and water as my new year resolution. I was frightening a lot but I was keeping myself motivated and tried not to wear the amulet again. I did meditation religiously as only 2 days were left. I somehow managed that day.
On the 9th day morning. I was so frightened that I ran back to the room trying to control my fear. I intentionally kept my amulets on the table. The time came. I sat down on the bed. My heart throbbing at its full potential. I drank some water and I kept saying to myself that everything is ok Prashant and closed my eyes. Uncontrolled frightening thoughts, images, and figures started coming in front of me.
I was in sweat and was shivering then suddenly a miracle happened. I was able to feel an intense sensation going slowly towards the backside of my brain and soon words of Guruji came into my mind not to feed the wild animal-the sensation and I did the same. A few minutes later it got vanished. I opened my eyes locked the door and quickly ran towards the backyard of my room. It was a winter morning and the cold wind was blowing. I stood still looking and admiring the beauty of this sacred fig- The Peepal tree whom I was away and frightening all my life. It was a long beautiful tree. The leaves were big, beautiful, and shining and the cold wind blows through the leaves making a pleasant sound and I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and I could feel the fresh cold air on my face and a new start to my life.
The last day came. I was happy. On the tenth day, the noble silence was over. I looked to Shah Rukh and Jitu Sir and we were smiling. We all started talking to each other as we were silent for the last straight 10 days. All students were happy. We got all our phones and wallet back. Everybody was talking on the phone. Jitu Sir and Shah Rukh started sharing their experiences. Jitu Sir said that all our life we are constantly blabbering, chatting, talking about things, meaningful and utterly meaningless things, and here how light inside it felt while silent for days. Jitu Sir was working on a book to publish and told me how he scripted the ending of the book during meditation which was pending for so long time. I called my father. He was busy at that time. I called my brother Anil, my Jiju, and my friend Shachi to share my experience but I was unable to share as there was a lot to share. So I just suggested them to plan to come to Vipassana one day.
Everyone was talking in their groups. I got surprises after surprises. The guy who looked like a monk was an employee of Google Company who left his job some time ago. Mahesh Ji used to work in a pharmacy company. The person with the Tom Cruise face was a businessman who owns a shoe factory. The man in the yellow jacket was a Joint Commissioner, an IRS Officer and there were a number of students preparing for Govt. services. I met this guy who yawns and bangs his cushion and came to know that he has some sort of addiction. He used to drink almost every day due to work and for the entire 10 days, he controlled himself and completed the course. I felt proud of him. Everybody was sharing their experiences.
I started taking videos. I met with our beloved Dhamma Sevak Rajesh and I saw him laughing for the first time and I said to myself that the person I saw with pain and suffering, in the beginning, is actually full of life and enjoyment. The session was not over yet. While this was going someone mocked that guy from room number 45 who used to talk and have a good appetite. He heard that and during lunch, he hardly ate anything. I asked him why he ate so little to which he replied that he was not hungry. I started thinking that how words impact a lot and change the action of others. Words whether positive or negative from our parents, friends, and society do the same, they had high impacts on our thinking and actions.
We were not allowed to go outside. The meditation session was in the evening also with the teacher’s discourse. Guruji told that this 10 days session was just a small baby step. We have miles to go. We did Mangal Maitri in which we pray for the living beings and the world and forgive ourselves and others for our wrong thoughts and doings. We came back to our rooms. Last night we were talking a lot and visiting the area. Jitu Sir, Shah Rukh, and I were walking. We were accompanied by Akash who was also preparing for Govt services. Jitu Sir and Akash were fond of writing. They both started to read poems and shayari and Shah and I were enjoying it very much.
It was 11 pm around and we came back to our rooms for rest. The next day we have to leave after 2 hours of meditation and breakfast. I prepared my bed to sleep. My mouth was paining as I had spoken after a long time. I went into a deep sleep and I saw a dream. The dream was so real and intense as if I was living it. I was in a metro when I saw her with a 2-year-old boy. The little boy was running here and there and his nose was similar to her. I took a candy out of my pocket and offered him. He ran towards me for the candy and I don’t know what happened to me. I bent on my knees grabbing him in my arms and leaning my forehead to his forehead and my eyes went wet and everything disappeared. Step by step, bit by bit all my inner deep emotions which I was unaware of for many years holding me back poured out and I felt why Guruji said earlier “It is the operation of heart”.
The gong rang and the Dhamma Sevaks came with ringing bells. It was 4 am, 17th Feb 2021. I got ready for the last 2-hour meditation. We had breakfast. It was time to leave. Everybody was arranging a taxi or a friend who can drop them to the nearby metro station. I was late and I could not bid goodbye to Jitu Sir. Shah Rukh had some conversation with Mr. Mahesh Bhardwaj, IRS Officer about dropping us at the nearest station. He was kind and humble and happily agreed to drop both of us. I met with the assistant teacher at the exit gate and asked him to have a group selfie to which he gently denied saying have you anywhere seen any picture or idol of Lord Buddha on the campus. I was astonished by realizing that this was true.
I have not seen a single picture or idol of Lord Buddha in the whole 16 Acre campus. Then I recalled the sayings of Guru Ji that Dharma is inside us, it is in nature not in pictures or idols. If someone is showing or boasting about Dharma then it is not true Dharma. The vehicle came. It has a nameplate of “Govt of India” showing the power of an administrative officer. It was early morning. Everything was looking new and beautiful. I have a new perception of life now. We sat in the car and left.
YouTube Video of Experiences of Meditators in Vipassana Dhamma Sota, New Delhi location
I found that the cause of pleasure and pain I was searching outside is within myself. Everything is mortal, pain or pleasure and it is nature and everything can be achieved by hard work. I found my reset button of life – Vipassana. I never imagined how a single word, picture, or person can make so many deep marks on my subconscious mind until I felt it. Whatever we see, eat, do, say or even think has a direct impact on our mind, and things like fear, love, strong emotions stay for a long time hampering our present. I came to realize why people get addicted so much to drinks. It is because they have suffered losses and pain in the past and cannot get rid of it. How failures change a person? It is all about emotions related to particular incidents.
I remember the statement from the book Discover Your Destiny by Robin Sharma,” People in pain do painful things”, and if we remove the pain or emotions imprinted deep down in our heart for so long, the person can be changed or his life. Vipassana is a tool for changing life. Now I got my answer to tell my elder brother Anil that why everything is free here and why it is running of donations.
I got answers to the questions asked by Dad in the beginning. Life is very short my friends. Very short to stay angry, very short to curse others, very short to regret. Enjoy this beautiful gift of nature. Time is running, enjoy every moment, give time and importance to your relationships, family, and friends. Help poor, volunteer freely and live forever.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vipassana Meditation
Yes, Vipassana is effective for depression and can reduce the severity of depressive symptoms.
Any person who is not physically fit and too weak to follow the Vipassana schedule should stay away from it.
The leader of Vipassana is S.N Goenka. He was the one who started teaching this type of Meditation in India.
There are no fees charged for joining any courses of Vipassana. You are not charged even for accommodation and food.
Gautama Buddha practised Vipassana, and S.N Goenka started teaching it in India in 1969. Then, after seven years, he started his meditation centre known as Vipassana International Academy, which also came to be known as Dhamma Giri.
The Vipassana meditation courses offer a secure environment that pushes everyone beyond their comfort zones.
You can locate the Vipassana centre in the following places:
● Dhamma Dhaja, Hoshiarpur,Punjab
● Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri
● Dhamma Setu, Chennai
● Dhamma Sota, Haryana
● Dhamma Bodhi, Bodh Gaya
● Dhamma Pattana, Mumbai
● Sikhara Dhamma, Dharamshala
● Dhamma Thali, Jaipur
● Dhamma Pushkar, Ajmer
Vipassana is derived from Buddhism and is a path to insight.
Yes, Vipassana is effective for the brain, and it can also change the structure of an individual’s brain.
Vipassana meditation is a miraculous tool that helps in mitigating psychosomatic and psychological distress. It truly helps in improving your concentration and creating self-awareness. Vipassana’s journey to the root of body and mind reduces its tendency to dwell in any past or future situation, thus lowering one’s expectations. Moreover, it is a technique that has multiple applications and enhances an individual’s well-being. So, if you’re thinking to start your Vipassana journey, then do not wait for an opportunity. Start now because better late than never!