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A friend, who was quite depressed earlier, told me she wanted to take the Vipassana 10-day course. Yet, due to her schedule, it’s impossible for her to take 10 days off from work. She wanted to find a way to solve her problems and was expecting Vipassana would give her the solution.

I then explained to her that Vipassana was no more than a meditation technique and that’s what the course taught. During class, she might or might not have her problems solved. So, basically, there is no guarantee.

Vipassana is not the only way. There are hundreds of techniques to reach to the state of pure awareness. They are the doorways to the pure witnessing consciousness. And we must understand that these techniques are important, yet, they are not the meditation itself.

So don’t limit yourself, be open and explore different techniques if possible. For my friend’s case, it’s probably better for her to take a meditation course with less commitment in time. Meditation is fun and simple. It’s often too simple for us, the complicated beings, to comprehend right away indeed (haha 😛 ).

Let’s learn to be aware. That’s all it takes to a life full of love, peace, and joy.

Here you can find more about my experience with Vipassana meditation.

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I found many similarities between my experience of the ABC trekking trip and the Vipassana 10-day course in Hong Kong .

Duration

Both the Vipassana course and the ABC trekking trip were 10 days long. Interestingly, in both of them, every day went by very slowly, so slowly that I didn’t just count the time passed by day (“ok, still have 8 days to go”, “ok, 7 days left”…), but I actually counted by hour (“yes! another hour, then lunch!”, “still have another two hours to go before arriving to the next stop point”…) Time passes by very slowly when we keep doing the same thing all day long, for many days, without any distraction. Unlike Vipassana, while I could talk with others during my trekking days, I found the trekking trip a good time to focus more on myself and do some self-reflection and whatnot.

Lodging

Both provided the very basic – only a bed. We had to bring our own beddings. Well, all lodges along the ABC trail provided a pillow more than the Vipassana center, but I wouldn’t mind to carry my own pillow since I stayed in the same place for all 10 days during the course. Yet, in no doubt, the Vipassana center provides better lodging, since hot water and electricity are guaranteed 24/7! 😀

People

One may not make lifetime friends there in the Vipassana course or during her trekking trip, but all the people one meets there share some very similar interests. Hence, I have found it very easy to pick up a conversation and have a good chat, share information and ideas, with the people whom I met, both in the course, as well as the trekking trip.

It’s a Challenge!

Completing the 10 days of the Vipassana course or the ABC trail needs strong determination. During the course, there were times I doubted that it wasn’t want I was looking for and if I should call it off . And when I was trekking the ABC trail, there were times I wondered if I had picked a trail too long. It’s not only a physical challenge, but a challenge of one’s patience and endurance as well. And it was the happy findings and beautiful moments along the way

that made me knew that I had made the right choice and would stay put and keep going. In addition, as time went by, the more time I had invested in the course/trekking trip, the less I would want to give up. Unlike some crises that just happen in life involuntarily, both the Vipassana course and the ABC trail are challenges that one searches and gives herself by her own free will. I like both experience and am happy that I have got myself to do them. They are definitely a self-learning experience, as well as an achievement and experience that I love to share with others. 🙂

Feeling Afterwards

While I liked my experience along the way during the 10 days in the Vipassana center / ABC trekking trip, I told myself I had enough of my share and wouldn’t want to do this again. But a few days after the Vipassana course / ABC trekking, my mind changed. It’s really not a bad idea to do them again. Now, if some friends are planning a trekking trip of other trails such as Jomsom or Mt. Everest, I won’t mind to join indeed. And, I am actually interested in checking out the Vipassana centers in other countries. It is nice how there are Vipassana centers all around the world, making it quite convenient, and even fun, just like trying out the McDonald’s in different countries haha 😛

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Many friends are curious about my 10-day meditation experience. Some of them even worried that I would become a nun after these 10 days.

10 days of meditation? What do you do besides meditation? Just sit and meditate the whole day? And you can’t talk at all in these 10 days? Not even during lunch or dinner?What? You don’t even have dinner? Oh my god… You sure you want to do this to yourself? Girl, you will go crazy… (and on and on my family and friends worried…)

We are often amazed by how quickly time flies when we look back to past events. Yet, this is not the case for my 10-day meditation experience.It’s loooong! While a day of 10+ hour of meditation passed by unexpectedly quicker and easier than I had imagined, 10 days of meditation with the same daily schedule (except Day 4 and Day 10) passed by killingly slow. I noticed how everyday passed by.Even though it was the same daily schedule, the material learned, my feelings about this course and of myself were very different everyday.There were times I was grateful that I made it to this course, and there were times I felt like crap and wanted to escape from this prison-like camp.

Day 0 (Check-in Day)

Day 1 (Meditation = Nap Time?)

Day 2 (Getting into the Meditation Mode)

Day 3 (My Subconscious Wanted to Call It Off?)

Day4 (Finally, Vipassana!)

Day 5 (Hey, Sit Still and Be Quiet!)

Day 6 (Feel Like Quitting Again…)

Day 7 (I Feel Electrified!)

Day 8 (Continuity of Practice)

Day 9 (Can’t Wait Anymore!)

Day 10 (Freedom of Speech)

Day 11 (Check-out Day)

My Suggestion

Some Interesting Facts & Trivia

To Bring List

Terminology

Typical Daily Schedule

Links & Resources


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Online Websites
International Homepage http://www.dhamma.org/

  • Information of Vipassana in other languages is available and the links can be found at the bottom of this site
  • While this site looks very plain, there is much information explaining the technique and origin of Vipassana meditation, as well as the 10-day course, different course locations, background of S.N. Goenka, etc.

Hong Kong Vipassana Meditation Center http://www.hk.dhamma.org/
Vipassana on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassan%C4%81
S.N. Goenka on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._N._Goenka

Books
The Art of Living
Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka
by William Hart

The Discourse Summaries
By S.N. Goenka

These books are probably available in Buddhist Philosophy Bookshop (佛哲書舍). There is one in Mongkok (852-2391-8143) and one in Causeway Bay, (852-2895-2890).

Here is my experience with Vipassana meditation.

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  • It’s better to go in the winter than spring or summer. There are many mosquitoes in the area where the center locates. I took the course in January, so it’s fine. But many students, including me, got mosquito bites on the few days when the weather wasn’t very cold. So, I guess it would be much worse when the weather gets warmer in the summer time.
  • Here is a list of things that I suggest one should bring along to the 10-day course.
  • There are many Vipassana centers in other locations that have better facilities Pagoda Vipassana Int’l Academyand more private space for the students. And many of them have discourse in English, as well as English-speaking instructor. Go to Vipassana meditation homepage and click on the links on the left for more information http://www.dhamma.org/.
  • I would suggest one to listen to the English discourse if one understands English good enough (ie: no need to read subtitles when watching a Hollywood movie). It is better listening to the original lecture of Goenka than listening to a book-reading translation by some Cantonese speaker. If one worries that he/she might not understand the English discourse because of the Buddhism terminologies in Pali, check out this list of words. While this is not a complete list, this is all you need to begin with and to understand the English discourse. And don’t worry about the Indian accent, one will get used to it very soon. 🙂
  • The center serves vegetarian meals all 10 days at 6:30am, 11:00am, and 5:00pm. If, due to health problem, one needs special arrangement on food, let the center knows and it will work out with you.
  • Vegatarian Diet
  • If one has problem crossing her/his legs for a long period of time, tell the center about the problem. It will make special arrangement for the situation.
  • One should definitely use her/his chance to ask teacher questions during the Q&A sessions. Don’t hold up to any question in mind, for it will be very much a distraction during meditation. By clearing up all the questions, one can focus and concentrate much easier during meditation (well, that’s definitely my case)

Back to my experience with Vipassana meditation

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  • University of MichiganThis is mainly for the UM folks!! Michigan Ann Arbor has a course location too. Since the zip code is 48105, I am guessing that it is located somewhere near the campus (let’s make it a reunion activity?! Yes, I am just kidding. I ain’t that silly… haha)http://www.mi.us.dhamma.org/
  • Beside the regular courses, there are also courses designed especially for kids, prisoners, as well as business executives.
  • Many people think that 10 days for a meditation course is unbearably long. But really, that’s the very minimal for one to get a good grab of the Vipassana technique (if you take the course, you will understand why 10 days are needed). There are 20-day course, 30-day course, 45-day course, 60-day course. All these courses are for old students only though.
  • There is more information and resources of Vipassana available for those who have completed a 10-day course, for example, Vipassana Newsletter online edition.
  • It’s really cool once one has completed a 10-day course and become an old student. Instead of attending all 10 days of the course, old students can take part of the course, for example, just the first five days, or Day 4 – Day 7.
  • Hong Kong Vipassana Meditation Center in Sheung Shui has already opened for more than 10 years.
  • The Hong Kong SAR Government has already agreed to grant the center 3000 m2 of land (hope I remember the number right…:P) in Lantau Island for a new Hong Kong Vipassana Meditation Center. Many things have yet to be confirmed. But according to a helper in the center, if things go well, the new center will be ready in 2 years.
  • Back to my experience with Vipassana meditation

    Reunion

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Compare to other course locations, the one in Hong Kong, Sheung Shui is very small. While the site is kept clean and tidy, it provides nothing but the very basic – a bed and hot water for drink and for shower. Hence, pack your luggage as if you are going to a 10-day camping!

Here are some of the things that you should bring with you.

  • Ear plugs (oh, how much I wish I had brought a pair of ear plugs with me… sleeping with 20 people in a room like how it is in a hostel… imagine what a rich and lively symphony an orchestra of 20 sleepy heads could compose with their snoring, coughing, dream talking, and such!)Can’t Sleep!
  • Bowl, fork/chopsticks, cup
  • Sleeping bag, pillow
  • Tissue, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner
  • Sandals (it is more convenient and comfortable to wear sandals when walking around inside the center)

Since the center locates somewhere in the countryside of the northern part of Hong Kong, the temperature will be a few degrees C lower than in the city, I would suggest bringing some warmer clothing if you are taking the course in the winter. In addition, it can get quite chilly sitting in the hall meditating for hours. Bring a blanket to cover yourself and some heat pads for warming up your hands. You don’t want to suffer from a cold, sniffing your running nose and rubbing your watery eyes with your cold and numb fingers for 10 days.

There is neither washing machine nor dryer, but washing powder, lines and hangers available for line drying your clothes outdoor.

I would recommend not bringing a watch with you to the 10-day course. Checking the time is such a distraction during meditation. Plus time goes much slower, painfully dragging, minute by minute, when one feels bored sitting in the Dhamma Hall and couldn’t focus herself during meditation, or when one couldn’t get into sleep but could do nothing more than just laying in her bed and counting sheep (or listening to the symphony of snoring and dream talking :).

Call the Vipassana meditation center in Hong Kong (852)2671-7031 or (852)2770-4770 if you have any other question.

Back to my experience with Vipassana meditation

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