I became a Vipassana meditation student over two years ago, and I will say with 100% conviction, that it was the best thing I have ever done for my long-term health. Listening to me explain what Vipassana is (and more importantly, what Vipassana isn't) is very similar to listening to a three year old explain their version of foreign policy. I don't have the words (as the experience is so much greater) nor do I really "get it" on the level that it could be possibly gotten. My explanations start with big ideas but end up with the default "It's really really really important that you do it to understand, as anything I may say about it doesn't do it justice."
Vipassana is not a religion. Vipassana is not a treatment. It is simply the instructions on how to not do anything without getting distracted. It sounds pretty easy until one realizes that in order to relax, we have to add stimulation to our system. Watch a movie, or read a book, or listen to music. We can't seem to sit without squirming around because our legs hurt...from doing nothing. At the end of the 10-day course (these courses are taught in exactly the same way, all over the world, in the exact same format) you will have learned how to do nothing - and not be freaking out about it. Why do nothing? Your physical well-being requires it. Got tight muscles? They can't relax. They can't stop "doing", and neither can your mind.
During the course I was pretty smug about how well I could sit (without moving anything, including swallowing!!!) for a couple hours at a time, until I realized that I was THINKING about how good I was. Thinking was still doing something. And then I was realizing I was thinking. And then I was mad that I was realizing that I was thinking. DAMN! Start again. Start again. Start again. Start again.
The mantra of the course is: You are bound to be successful. And you are.
I am blogging this today because I happened on the first excellent article I have ever read about Vipassana in a So. Cal publication The Whole Person. Vipassana Meditation, Mental Health, and Well-Being by Paul Fleischman, M.D. (you can read Paul's article by clicking on the article title) is additional info to help you comprehend what I am so poor at explaining.
Some course information:
All first-courses are 10 days long. Once you've done your first course, you can then take shorter courses. For North American course dates, click here. Ten days seems like a lot. Are you saying to yourself "There is NO WAY I could ever take that much time off away from my (pick one) kids, job, dogs, family, life"? That's what I said too. And it doesn't change the fact that you still need to go. We believe our lives are inflexible (same as our hamstrings), but I'd bet if there were a catastrophe, or a death, you would be able to arrange someone to care for all the things you believe are "must-dos". We tend to be very savvy when it comes to reacting to a situation and unskilled at preparing for one. Trust me, you can take the time.
P.S. The course is FREE. All your food, all your housing, and the instruction. There is no charge. So the whole "I can't afford it right now" thing doesn't really work either. Damn.
And, P.P.S. The food is AWESOME! You are not going into a cult or some weirdo place. The salad bar and chocolate chip cookies were so good!
P.P.P.S. There's no talking. If that's a red flag for you then consider what your need to constantly talk is preventing you from doing. Doing nothing!
P.P.P.P.S There is no need to respond to this blog (if you have an urge to throw tomatoes at me by now, then you should REALLY be considering this course). I will ask everyone to just take a look at the schedule and respond by posting the dates that would maybe work if the universe somehow aligned and your boss gave you the week off and your kids would survive with only one parent or family member, or someone might walk your dog for you, or if Hell froze over. Show me that you at least looked...