The largest offering of Vipassana Meditation is that taught By S. N. Goenka, offering free 10-day courses (costs are covered through donations). It originated in India, but now there are meditation centers world-wide.
At first glance, the daily schedule for the 10 days looks pretty demanding:
|4:00 a.m.||Morning wake-up bell|
|4:30 – 6:30 a.m.||Meditate in the hall or your own room|
|6:30 – 8:00 a.m.||Breakfast break|
|8:00 – 9:00 a.m.||Group meditation in the hall|
|9:00 – 11:00 a.m.||Meditate in the hall or your own room|
|11:30 – noon||Lunch|
|12 noon – 1:00 p.m.||Rest break|
|1:00 – 2:30 p.m.||Meditate in the hall or your own room|
|2:30 – 3:30 p.m.||Group meditation in the hall|
|3:30 – 5:00 p.m.||Meditate in the hall or your own room|
|5:00 – 6:00 p.m.||Tea break|
|6:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Group meditation in the hall|
|7:00 – 8:30 p.m.||Video recording to recap day|
|9:30 p.m.||Retire to your own room/Lights out|
When I first went, I thought it would be impossible to wake up at 4 am and meditate all day long in silence. (There is no talking during the retreat, except for brief check-ins with the assistant teacher.) But waking up was a lot easier than I expected… you are naturally rested from going to bed early and meditating all day. And you are free from other distractions, such as work, mobile phones and e-mail, so it’s not difficult.
At the same time, I think I convinced myself on one of the days that time had stopped and I was going to be there forever.