Commonly Asked Questions About Vipassana Meditation
Why is the course ten days long?

Actually, the ten day course is the minimum; it provides an essential introduction and foundation to the technique. To develop in the practice is a lifetime job. Experience over generations has shown that if Vipassana is taught in periods of less than ten days, the student does not get a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique. Traditionally, Vipassana was taught in retreats lasting seven weeks. With the dawning of the 20th century, the teachers of this tradition began to experiment with shorter times to suit the quickening pace of life. They tried thirty days, two weeks, ten days, down to seven days--and they found that less than ten days is not enough time for the mind to settle down and work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon.

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How many hours a day will I be meditating?

The day begins at 4:00 a.m. with a wakeup bell and continues until 9:00 p.m. There are about ten hours of meditation throughout the day interspersed with regular breaks and rest periods. Every evening at 7:00 p.m., there is a videotaped lecture by the Teacher, S.N. Goenka, which explains the progress of one's experience through the course. This schedule has proved workable and beneficial for hundreds of thousands of people for decades.

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How much does the course cost?

According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers. Someone taking the course for the first time may give a donation on the last day of the course or any time thereafter. Students may give whatever amount matches their ability to give and their desire to provide others with the opportunity to learn the technique.

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I can't sit cross legged. Can I meditate?

Certainly. Chairs are provided for those unable to sit comfortably on the floor.

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How can I be sure I am capable of doing the meditation?

For a person in reasonable health who is genuinely interested and willing to make sincere effort, meditation (including "noble silence") is not difficult. If you are able to follow the instructions patiently and diligently, you can be sure of tangible results. Though it may appear daunting, the day's schedule is neither too severe nor too relaxed. Moreover, the stability of other students practicing conscientiously in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere lends tremendous support to one's efforts.

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Do I have to be a Buddhist to practice Vipassana?

People from many religions and no religion have found the meditation course helpful and beneficial. Vipassana is an art of living, a way of life. While it is the essence of what the Buddha taught, it is not a religion; rather, it is the cultivation of human values leading to a life which is good for oneself and good for others.

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Why is a course conducted in silence?

All students attending the course observe "noble silence": that is, silence of body, speech and mind. They agree to refrain from communicating with their co-meditators. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs, and to speak with the instructor. Silence is observed for the first nine full days. On the tenth day, speech is resumed as a way of re-establishing the normal pattern of daily life. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in this course; silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity.

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What kind of food is served?

Our menu is completely vegetarian. Special diets due to medical conditions, allergies, etc. may be accommodated with advance notice.

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Are there courses shorter than ten days?

New students must attend a ten-day course to learn the technique. One-day and three-day refresher courses are offered for those who have already completed a ten-day course.

Read the tour report (See entry on Weekend Spirituality)

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Where are the courses offered?

Courses are offered at meditation centers throughout the world. Additionally, courses are also offered at temporary locations in areas where there are no centers. Please visit www.dhamma.org and follow the links on the left menu for a complete worldwide list of courses and dates.

In addition to the location in Michigan, Meditation courses are held in and around the Midwest, North America, and other locations around the world.

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