My Experience of Vipassana at
Dhamma Delaware, Claymont (9/25/2019 – 10/6/2019)
As a lifelong learner, I am always interested in learning new things. In my mastery journey with Points® of You, it’s important for me, not only to master the skillset as a facilitator, but to master other areas that could help me help others. One of which is ‘mindfulness’ and is best cultivated through the practice of meditation.
I came across Vipassana from watching an award-winning film “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana” (an extraordinary undertaking of 10-day Vipassana programs at India’s largest prison). The impact on the inmates was so great and I had been curious ever since. Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are” and is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. I told myself that if I want to do meditation, I must learn the right techniques.
Speaking of SynchroDestiny, Vipassana 10-days Silent Meditation Retreat showed up at impeccable timing. I spent hours reading up their website from page to page so I have a better understanding of what I was getting myself into. Here’s what truly got me “This course of meditation is a very serious undertaking. If you feel you are really ready to take this course, to work diligently on the course and to follow the instructions carefully, you will gain a great gift of wisdom. If you maintain your practice of meditation it will be a jewel and a refuge to you for the rest of your life.”
There was a long waiting list at Dhamma Delaware, Claymont (which is 1.1/2 hours away from where I live) but I applied any way. I applied three times and my 2nd application was accepted as someone had cancelled.
I arrived with an open mind without any expectations. I must say… by the end of the Retreat, I was very impressed with this center’s organization and execution of the programs.
Quick Summary of my Vipassana experiences throughout the 10-days:
- Noble Silence – silence of body, speech and mind e. no communication in any form with fellow student (eye contact, sign language, written notes) & outside; Minimum communication with teachers & course manager, as needed.
- To keep track of time & break, the Course Manager will ring the
- Complete segretation of men and women (including friends, members of the same family, etc)
- No physical contact whatsoever between persons of the same or opposite sex
- No phone, computer/labtop, no reading, no writing
- No yoga, jogging or other exercises – may walk in the designated areas during rest periods
- Outside food are not allowed but I really enjoyed their simple vegetarian meals (breakfast, lunch and light evening snacks).
- We received systematic meditation instructions several times a day and each day’s progress is explained during a video discourse by the late teacher, S.N. Goenka in the evening (my favorite moment). Mr. Goenka was a great storyteller and he used stories to elaborate his points, and humorous
- For the first three and a half days, we practiced Anapana Meditation, the observation of the breath. Purpose is to help calm down our monkey minds (loved how Teacher Goenka explained that our minds wonder like monkey, jumping from one tree to another) and concentrate the mind
- From Day 4 onward, we practiced Vipassana, the meditation of mental purification by
- On Day 10, we learnt a new meditation of Metta i.e. loving kindness, and then the noble silence will end. (Yay! Little did I know that transitioning from noble silence to so-called ‘back-to-normal’ also need some adjustments – I could not stay too long in the chattering environment and much rather enjoyed my quiet bedroom).
- At about 6:40 am on Day 11, after the final talk, the course is officially over. We had our Breakfast and cleaned up our rooms so that the room is ready for the next group of students. Since the centre is maintained by volunteers, many remained to help with clean up. By 9:30 am, most students would have left the
- Note that all courses are run solely on a donation basis. There are no charges for the courses, not even to cover the coast of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from those who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity. Students who have completed the 10-days can volunteer to help in future courses – serving others as you’ve been
- All assistant teachers and others serving at the course volunteered their
Our daily course timetable is as follows:
|4:00 am||Morning wake-up bell|
|4:30-6:30 am||Meditate in the hall or in your room|
|6:30-8:00 am||Breakfast break|
|8:00-9:00 am||Group meditation in the hall|
|9:00-11:00 am||Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions|
|11:00-12:00 noon||Lunch break|
|12noon-1:00 pm||Rest and interviews with the teacher|
|1:00-2:30 pm||Meditate in the hall or in your room|
|2:30-3:30 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|3:30-5:00 pm||Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions|
|5:00-6:00 pm||Tea break|
|6:00-7:00 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|7:00-8:15 pm||Teacher’s Discourse in the hall|
|8:15-9:00 pm||Group meditation in the hall|
|9:00-9:30 pm||Question time in the hall|
|9:30 pm||Retire to your own room–Lights out|
I must confess… these 10-days were brutally painful physically and mentally challenged for me. As an athletic in my younger days, I’d endured physical pain and as a mom, the pain of two childbirth. But the pain that I had experienced here was beyond words! Since everyone’s Vipassana Experience is different, I don’t believe you can ever prepare yourself for what’s to come with Vipassana Experience. What might probably help ease the transition is to find a comfortable sitting position and start building your muscle by practicing your sitting. Another tip for your complete presence is to ensure that all your bills are paid, or whatever needs done got done prior to you leaving for the retreat. This way, you will not be distracted thinking of these unfinished business.
No pain no gain. At the end, I’ve learnt more than just the meditation technique. Vipassana is an Art of Living, the mastery of the mind. Just like physical exercises are used to improve bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind. Vipassana and Social Change goes hand in hand. Social change cannot be accomplished by mere lectures and sermons. It starts with self – with love and compassion, peace and harmony.
I would like to borrow an excerpt from Dhamma’s Website explaining: “Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace. “
I am loving the Vipassana meditation. I am loving the experienced wisdom. As a commitment to my devotion, as soon as I got home, I decluttered a space dedicated to my daily Vipassana Meditation use. Knowing what I know now, I can sit through like a statue for an hour long enjoying my meditation.
For more information, the detailed Course Information can be found in https://delaware.dhamma.org/html/Courses/course_information.html