“For real happiness, for real lasting stable happiness, one has to make a journey deep within oneself and see that one gets rid of all the unhappiness and misery stored in the deeper levels of the mind.” - S N Goenka
A ten-day residential course is an introductory course to Vipassana Meditation where the technique is taught step-by-step each day. The courses begin on the start date after registration period and orientation, followed by 10 full days of meditation. Courses end on the morning of the 11th day by 7:00 am.
To learn Vipassana, it is necessary to take a ten-day residential course under the guidance of a qualified teacher. The courses are conducted at established Vipassana Centres and other places. For the duration of the retreat, students remain within the course site having no contact with the outer world. They refrain from reading and writing, and suspend all religious practices or other disciplines. During the course, participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline. They also observe noble silence by not communicating with fellow students; however, they are free to discuss meditation questions with the teacher and material problems with the management.
There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and consuming intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.
The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one's attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. By the fourth day, the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them. Each day’s progress is explained during an hour-long discourse in the evening.
Finally, on the last full day, participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.
The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.
Of course, the results come gradually through continued practice. It is unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved in ten days. Within that time, however, the essentials of Vipassana can be learned so that it can be applied in daily life. The more the technique is practiced, the greater the freedom from misery, and the closer the approach to the ultimate goal of full liberation. Even ten days can provide results which are vivid and obviously beneficial in everyday life.
Documentary on a course structure
Documentary 'Hill of Dhamma' details the proceedings of a 10 Day Vipassana course at Dhammagiri, Igatpuri. It showcases Dhammagiri, the principal centre of Vipassana Meditation and explains how a basic Vipassana course progresses through its 10 day period.
Although Indian by descent, Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka was born and raised in Myanmar (Burma). While living there, he had the good fortune to come into contact with Sayagyi U Ba Khin and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for 14 years, In 1969, Mr. S. N. Goenka was appointed by Sayagyi as an authorised teacher of Vipassana. That same year, S. N. Goenka left Myanmar for India and began conducting courses. Since then he began giving hundreds of courses to people from different backgrounds and nationalities.
He also appointed several hundred assistant teachers to help conduct courses around the world. Over a period of almost 45 years, Mr. Goenka and the teachers appointed by him taught hundreds of thousands of people in courses in India and other countries, East and West. Today, meditation centers established under his guidance are operating in Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia. As of 2020, there are 207 Vipassana Centres and 139 non-Centre locations all around the world.
Mr. Goenka was the recipient of many awards and honors in his lifetime, including a prestigious Padma Award from the President of India in 2012. This is one of the highest civilian awards given by the Indian Government.
Mr. Goenka breathed his last in September 2013, at the age of 89. He has left behind an imperishable legacy: the technique of Vipassana, now available more widely than ever before to people around the world.
10-Day courses across all the Centers are conducted by assistant teachers of Mr. S. N. Goenka using his audio visual instructions and discourses.
There is no charge whatsoever for the teachings. As for costs of board, lodging, and other minor expenses, these are met by the voluntary donations of grateful students of past courses who have experienced the benefits of Vipassana, and who wish to give others an opportunity to experience the same. In turn, having completed a course, if one feels benefited by it and would like others also to benefit from the practice of Vipassana, he or she may give a donation for future courses.
Minimum Age Requirement
A person should have completed 19 years of age to apply for a 10-day Vipassana course. Youngsters in the age group between 15-19 years can apply for teenagers' courses while students between the age 10-17 years can join children's courses.
How to apply for a course
- An online application is required to register for all courses.
- Read the Code of Discipline.
- View the Course List
- Click “Apply” beside the desired course date to fill in the online application form.
- Await notification: All correspondence will be through e-mail. In case, you have not provided email in your application, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive notification up to one month before start of the course.
- Reply to Pre-Confirmation email: On selection of application, pre-confirmation email will be sent to the applicant to ensure confirmation of attendance. Applicants need to reply to this email in the requisite time period to secure their place in the course.
- Final confirmation: On receiving positive reply to pre-confirmation email from applicant, final valid confirmation number will be issued.