So how to be happy here and now?
Well, the Buddhists seem to have found the key to happiness thousands of years ago. Buddhism is well-known for being a philosophy of love, peace, and harmony. Its major manifest is a regular practice of Vipassana – the silent meditation.
WHAT IS VIPASSANA (THE SILENT MEDITATION)
Vipassana is an ancient Buddhist meditation technique considered to be the oldest and most effective remedy for universal ills. It teaches people how to live in peace, without succumbing to our feelings and emotions which control our lives, are the source of disharmony and unbalance and eventually origins of all our diseases. This meditation technique is based on the conviction that all unhappiness is caused by two factors – cravings (resulting in disappointments, pathetic, sadness, sorrow, etc.) and aversions (resulting in agitation, frustration, irritation, anger, hatred, etc.).
In order to find balance and peace in our lives, we must face all pleasant and unpleasant situations and learn how to accept them without getting emotionally affected. We must not wait until the things around us change, however, we need to change our perspective and attitude. The only way to be able to achieve this kind of self-transformation is through self-observation that produce a deep interconnection between mind and body.
The concept of Vipassana is based on understanding the principal of impermanence at a not just theoretical level, but at the experiential level, through the actual meditation. Realising this through encountering both, discomfort and pleasant sensations we can see within our own body that nothing in this world lasts forever.
VIPASSANA RETREATS AND THEIR RULES
Vipassana meditation is a serious act of introspection and it must be performed in a complete silence for 10 days to make it work. The focus is to be fully directed within, hence neither talking, reading, writing nor using of any electronic devices is permitted for the whole length of the course. That means that there is no contact with the outer world accepted. Besides, there is no physical contact amongst the students allowed and a total segregation of genders is performed during the course. A strict schedule is asked to be followed without any exceptions, starting at 4 am and finishing at 9 pm.
What happens is, that the students spend 10 days in an isolated Buddhist retreat, trying the”ascetic life” of monks and nouns on their own skin. It is a total physical and mental 10-day detox, during which only simple vegetarian dishes served 3 times a day and lose, modest clothes are to be worn at all times. Accommodation is very humble (often dormitory or tent) and students spend most of the time meditating in the meditation hall, walking within the boundaries of the retreat or resting, in accordance with the timetable.
Vipassana meditation courses are run worldwide, in various languages and they are strictly is free of charge (solely based on donations). However, such a course requires a great deal of self-discipline and commitment.
VIPASSANA “THE ART OF LIVING”
Vipassana courses should not be misinterpreted as simply 10 days of meditating in silence for free which brings the eternal happiness. It is a very hard work and only the continuity of practice makes one succeed. Such 10-day course is meant to introduce Vipassana meditation in a fairly short period of time that is just enough for the students to learn the technique properly. However, it must be regularly maintained in everyday life to reach its full purpose – happiness. Vipassana is the art of living and a profound lifestyle.
The benefits of Vipassana practice are undeniable and there are thousands of people in the world who experience hugely positive life change each year.
VIPASSANA COURSES WORLDWIDE
Vipassana meditation technique is available to anyone. Buddhism is no organized religion, which means that being a meditation practitioner does not require getting involved in any church, rituals or belief in a particular God.
Vipassana is suitable for everybody regardless of age, religion, race, and gender. There are more than 200 centres worldwide open all year round and they all follow the exact same standards and rules. Vipassana meditation courses are free of charge (either for teaching or accommodation and food) and solely dependent on donations.
HOW TO SIGN IN
The length of Vipassana courses varies (2 days, 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, 45 days and 60 days). However, all new students have to take the 10-day course first. Once they have completed it they might want to sit the shorter or longer courses depending on their level of experience and time available. There is a possibility of service at any centre and any time, as well. Volunteering is highly appreciated.
The courses are often fully booked, especially in Buddhist countries of Asia like Thailand, Nepal, India and Myanmar. Therefore, it is advisable to book a course on-line quite in advance. Before you book your first course you should read more about Vipassana to understand fully what it takes to undertake such a 10-day meditation session.
Please find the most suitable location and the course schedules at http://www.dhamma.org/en/locations/directory
WHAT REQUIREMENTS DO I HAVE TO MEET
There is often a long wait list for the Vipassana courses, and even though no one is forced to complete the course if struggling, your limits should be considered prior booking the course (not to waste a spot and often once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those students who are seriously interested).
Remember that no phones, notebooks, books, magazines, talismans, jewellery, crystals or other religious objects are allowed to use during the course. Moreover, no physical exercise (including yoga), as well as no other meditation practice (including rites, chanting and prayers), are permitted. The noble silence MUST be kept until requested.
Each new student must commit themselves not to break the Code of Discipline during the course:
HOW DOES VIPASSANA RELATE TO TRAVELLING
Why not take travelling to the next level and make it meaningful? Travel, learn and grow as a person with volunteering at a Vipassana meditation centre anywhere in the world. As the Vipassana centres are at no charge, all staff are volunteers – often travellers, moving around the world and looking for new adventures.
Volunteering at Vipassana centres makes one feel useful and gives the feeling of belonging, offers plenty of opportunities, e.g. to get to know new cultures and people on ones travels while saving money for food and accommodation (however, this should never be the prime reason). Besides, it is quite an interesting experience to cook 3 meals a day for (sometimes) hundreds of students, help to build a new pagoda, do some gardening, cleaning or assisting the meditation teachers while performing a course.
NOTE that you will need to complete at least one full 10-day course to be able to volunteer at any Vipassana centre. Afterwards, you can travel the world, visit other centres internationally, help where it is needed and contribute to our world and wide-spreading love.
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