I love going to Vipassana in Blackheath. I have been an old student for years now. I have sat 3 full 10 day courses and have served on two. I have also done a one day course, which was very difficult, but worthwhile.
I have written this blog post to tell you what to expect. These are just my opinions as an old student, so please do your own independent research. If you are thinking about going but have not decided to – I can strongly recommend going. This has been one of the most valuable activities of my whole life. Vipassana is not easy – but it will give you a foundation for mental strength.
Things to bring:
- I have had friends ask me if they should bring a hair straightener etc. Believe me, after the first day, you will not know or care what you look like, however, you will benefit from being dry and warm, so it’s not wrong to bring a hairdryer if you have long hair.
- Nice soaps will also cheer you up. You will have no other luxuries while at Vipassana so making the most of your shower time is a good idea.
- Bring lots of socks. You can handwash at Vipassana but often because of the weather, things do not dry. Bring shoes that you can kick off easily, plus some ugg boots or gum boots.
- Hot water bottle. This is essential, it gets very cold in Blackheath.
- A water bottle. I like to have water by my bed and they do not allow you to take cups from the dining room.
What you will be doing:
- Meditating – lots. Vipassana at Blackheath has a program of about 11 or 12 hours of mediation per day.
- Sitting in Noble Silence. You do not talk for the whole time you are there, apart from to your teacher and on the last day. I love Noble Silence and I have noted that there are lots of students who seem to look for any excuse to talk. Keep quiet- it is more beneficial.
- When to speak. You can talk to the male and female managers – to ask for things you need. Try not to ask for anything – make do with what you have brought with you.
- Ana pana for 3 days and then Vipassana is given.
- You will sweep your body from head to feet, feet to head, back and forth, observing sensation.
- This will strengthen and quieten your mind. This will bring you back to reality. This will allow you to experience the truth of your real being.
- Is it hard? Yes, it is. It is difficult to sit for extended periods of time. At some points you will get very frustrated with the practice.
Do I meditate all day?
Yes, but there are breaks. There are also times when you can practice or do other things. However, there is nothing to do but mediate. It is best to meditate as much as you can.
How much does it cost?
The course is by donation. This is really good as it makes me have more faith that the course is being run for the right reasons. Vipassana will not make money from you. The centre is there to help and assist students. Make use of it – if you can.
Should I do it?
Yes, you should. You should go as soon as you can. The biggest challenge is finding a block of 12 days where you can go. Most Aussies in full-time work only get 20 days of holidays per year – so 12 days is a long time. If you have 12 days up your sleeve – book a course. They run all year round but they book out fast at certain times of the year.