Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10-day vipassana meditation course: After the course

This is one of multiple posts related to my experience at a 10-day meditation course. The first post is here.

I thought it might be appropriate to end this series with a few final closing thoughts, especially given my experience following the last course.

Would I go to another course? I might, but I would not go there with the expectation that it would address any problems in life. I might go there just to deepen my practice and I'll go at a time when I feel life is going reasonably well, rather than when I'm feeling all jarred and shaken up.

Each time that I have taken the course, even though the course instruction is identical (given by audio and video), I have found that I learned something that I had missed previously. So I think there was definitely benefit of going to the course multiple times, but the "new" information was definitely less between the second and the third, compared to that between the first and the second courses. With respect to deepening of the practice, I have found that I'm able to sit longer with less effort following each course. So there has definitely been some value there.

Many of the things that I experienced are perhaps not unique to this tradition. A lot of it probably comes just from being away from the overload of stimuli that our minds and bodies are subjected to constantly when in a normal urban setting.

One thing that I really like about the way these courses are run is that there is no emphasis on money whatsoever. There is a barely a mention about monetary donations and voluntary service during the last couple of discourses. The centers don't accept donations from people that have not taken a course, and even after the course there is very little soliciting. There are many meditation courses that want participants to pay 100's or even thousands of dollars for a few hours of meditation instruction, and here is a 10-day residential course that asks for nothing other than the commitment to follow the code of conduct. It is really quite rare to find such places in this day and age. The only other ones that I'm aware of in the US that operate on similar principles are the International Meditation Center (which is from Goenka's teacher and has a suggested donation of $350 as of this writing) and The Bhavana Society, neither of which I have been to.

All-in-all, I'm grateful to have had this experience. It has definitely changed my view of life.


  1. Thanks for an interesting description of the course. My son's been in India for 2 weeks and his course finishes tomorrow and I'm looking forward to hearing from him about his experience. Your post helped me to know what to expect.

  2. Hi there- I am about to sign up for a 10 day retreat in October. Do you have any thoughts on signing up for North Fork versus Kelseyville? I read through the series but could not tell what the main differences between the two were other than Kelseyville being newer. I am based in San Francisco. Thank you!

  3. While the instruction at all of the centers is identical, they actually operate autonomously. However I preferred the North Fork center because I thought it was better run. Perhaps that may have been because Kelseyville was just getting started whereas North Fork had been operating for a while. Also, at that time, Kelseyville only had shared rooms, whereas Northfork mostly had individual cells. Individual cells are preferred since it reduces the potential for interaction. If you would like to discuss by email, my address is in my profile.