Vipassana retreat

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.