Here are some practical advices below that might be helpful.
1. Choose the place of Vipassana retreat and book it in advance.
a. Some places such as Himalayas are booked pretty fast
b. Not all courses have a teacher, the smaller retreats have only an assistant teacher.
c. Check the annual temperature on the retreat. During some months, the warmth or rain could be unbearable.
2. Support your physical fitness by exercising yoga asanas (stretching). Practice a butterfly asana regularly.
3. Prior to attending the session, regularly sit on the floor in a meditation posture, keeping your back straight whether listening to music, watching TV, etc.
4. Before your session, try to reduce the amount of meat you consume if you are not a vegetarian.
a. Avoid eating meat every second day at first, slowly reducing the amount of the meat, replacing it by legumes.
b. Fasting 24 hours once per week would be beneficial.
c. Acquaint yourself with Indian cuisine at local restaurants. And, why not try to cook some Indian dishes at home?
5. Apply the same rule (see number 4) to alcohol, smoking, and drugs — reduce them steadily but surely.
6. It might be useful to acquaint yourself with any meditation methodology prior to the entering the course, however, it's not essential.
7. To prevent unnecessary worries, prepare your relatives and friends that you are going to be away from any communication means for 10 days. Create an automatic reply on your email and/or phone.
8. If you have time and budget travel through India’s spiritual places. I will provide a number of the spiritual places in India with hints and tips in a separate article.
9. You can use your normal prescription medications from your doctor. In the case of the serious health problems, contact the training center for advice prior to arrival.
Where to go for retreat
· India versus homeland
Thanks to Mr. Goenka, Vipassana meditation has been spread all over the world, and people can attend the training even in their own country. However, due to continuously increasing popularity of the technique, there might be a problem to book a place in your own country. In some countries. the places are all gone in the first 20 minutes after the opening a registration.
Personally, I prefer to get the meditation technique in the country of origin — India.
Vipassana retreat near Pushkar, India
· Big versus small size retreats
There are tens or maybe hundreds of Vipassana meditation centers throughout India, and I divide all of them into two main groups: the smaller meditation centers and the bigger ones.
In the small meditation centers, such as Pushkar, there are around 50 men and 25 women. The advantages of a smaller place are: cozier atmosphere with less noise, perhaps bigger space for fresh-air walking, and more time of an assistant teacher to dedicate to each student. The food preparation is outsourced, which is also positive because of reduced extra activities around you and noise.
The advantages of a bigger center are: larger variety of the people with different geographical backgrounds, you will be taught by a fully credentialed teacher (not an assistant teacher) with his high spiritual awareness in the Vipassana.
Very many foreigners, as well as locals, are attracted by gorgeous views of the Himalayas, nice weather and desire to participate to Vipassana meditation there. However, please be aware that the retreat is closed for the winter season; it might be not as warm as you think in spring and autumn seasons, and during the summer, the premises are pretty badly infected by mold.
*Note: This article is based on my personal experience and thoughts after my first 10-day meditation course of Vipassana, and is not presented to be an absolute truth. – Jacklyn A. Lo
Next article will tell about which things to take with you to Vipassana and after the course.