Runners have their marathons. Yoga buffs have Power Yoga, Ashtanga and more. What do hardcore meditators do when they want to push their meditation to the next level? Whether it’s to unravel the greater mysteries of the meditative experience, to energize themselves with the powerful voltage that follows deep reflective states, or simply to explore further the might and power of Kundalini Shakti, there are meditators who want to try more, do more, BE more. They often seek guidance, knowing full well that deeper meditation is better done with the gentle steering hand of a Guru, or teacher.
In our current day, their search (for guidance, not the meaning of life!) can find convenient and easy fulfilment. There are several in-depth, fully-immersive Meditation Retreats that let you explore the elusive eternal truths in a structured, guided way. One such is the Vipassana Retreat.
Vipassana is not new or unknown. One of the world’s most popular meditation techniques, it is said to have been envisioned, and taught, by Buddha himself across various places in India, as early as 2500 years ago. Today, the basic tenets and practices of Vipassana have been streamlined into a standardized 10-day course. Taught all over the world, these courses are entirely free of charge, and those who finish the course successfully and have reaped its benefits can choose to pass on their rewards to future meditators by contributing to the upkeep of these courses in the form of donations.
The course structure has been formulated by the late S.N. Goenka, whose voice and video recordings teach the technique to attendees. A non-sectarian, non-religious organization established by him undertakes the planning and execution of these courses.
To return to the first touch point, this course is not for those dabbling in, or just trying out Meditation. It involves rigors that begin with 10 days of Noble silence, where, upon entering the course premises and settling down, meditators take up a vow to maintain silence in all its forms – no words, written notes, gestures, or even eye contact. It goes without saying, of course, that no physical contact is allowed either. Regular religious practices, meditation techniques, yoga routines are suspended for the duration of the course. All kinds of entertainment, be it music, reading or anything else are not allowed.
Since diet and sleep are an important part of all deeper forms of meditations, the timing, portion and nature of the food served and sleep allowed is carefully planned. Simple vegetarian fare is the norm, a gong wakes you up (usually a few hours before your alarm bell would normally ring), and you are slowly coaxed into a regular routine of meditating for around 10 ½ hours a day. Though this sounds very far removed from our everyday routines – almost impossible in fact – there are teachers to guide, answer questions (during timed sessions when the silence may be broken) and make the meditative process yield phenomenal results.
And these results are what make Vipassana meditation the hugely popular successes they are today. (To gauge how popular they are, consider this: the average time to get into one of these courses, from start to acceptance to completing all required formalities is about 7 months!).
Vipassana retreats help you delve into deeper meditative states, the very crux of which acts on your body at an extremely basic level and is said to alter even the cellular structure of your body. Among other benefits, the following are common and much anticipated advantages of attending, and completing these courses:
- Lower negativity, measurably decreased depressive states
- Better ability to manage social situations, relationships and lesser feelings of isolation
- Enhanced immunity, with greatly improved health markers
- Sharpened Focus and attention and memory
- More concentration, control over emotions
Vipassana Retreats offer you an opportunity for total transformation. Ten days of staying completely shut off from the everyday world helps to hone your focus inwards, and the journey into your innermost self leads you to a self-realization that is uniquely yours, incomparable to anyone else’s, and ultimately full of riches that will change the very tone of your life, for every single day afterward.
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