As promised in my last post, Essentials things to pack for 10 day Vipassana retreat Part 1, here I am discussing with you, remaining list of things to be packed for vipassana meditation retreat. If you have landed directly on this post make sure you read part 1 of this series to ensure that you don’t miss on any of the important items that one must carry for a 10 day meditation retreat. Once you have added those things to your packing list, make sure to append it with below items as well:
Mosquito Repellant (must)
According to WHO, Vector borne disease like malaria, chikungunya and dengue causes more than 1.2 million deaths, annually. Thus, it is highly advisable to a carry a mosquito repellant cream and apply it on body parts that often remain exposed like hands, feet, neck and face before going to sleep.
Some dhamma centers provide mosquito nets as well. For instance, the room in which I stayed during my second last goenka retreat in November 2018, was equipped with mosquito net. However it was not usable because length of rope connecting it to the wall was not long enough. Thus, I had to rely on mosquito repellant that I was carrying with myself.
Adequate number of Lowers (must)
Considering that no one is allowed to wear clothes which expose their skin beyond permitted limits during a vipassana meditation retreat. Thus, shorts, mini-skirts, tight & transparent dresses, tank & skimpy tops are a big No.
Though you may be allowed to wear capris and long skirts provided they cover your knees while you are sitting. Hence, lowers is what you will be wearing on your legs for most of the time during the vipassana camp.
Lowers you choose should preferably be made of soft cotton material which is comfortable to wear. This is because you will be required to sit and meditate for 10 to 12 hours per day. Even while sleeping you will wear lower only thus I would highly recommend carrying at least four lowers, if not more.
None of the goenka vipassana centre that I have visited till date were providing laundry services and it is highly unlikely that any centre does. So, you will have to take care of washing and drying your clothes, yourself.
In most centres, there are sufficient numbers of clothes wires outside the residential quarters to let students dry their washed clothes. But the problem is the presence of strong winds owing to the open area. So, in order to keep your clothes tied to the clothes wire while drying, you must carry sufficient number of clothespins.
Moreover, due to some reason, this is one item which people are more likely to forget while packing. So, it is better to make an entry in your packing list right at this moment.
Nail cutter (must)
Although nail cutters are mostly used to cut nails but here I would emphasize you to carry it for another reason which is even more significant. Most of us face the problem of peeling skin on our fingers, just close to the root of our nails. Even if you normally don’t suffer from this problem you may have to encounter it due to changes in climatic conditions at these vipassana retreat centers.
Hangnails and flaky nails is another similar problem which can be extremely painful if you pull them. Such problems aggravate further when you are doing daily chores like washing clothes and utensils, yourself. At times, your fingers hurt so much that it can make even a grown adult, cry.
Nail cutter is the key to deal with these problems and you just cannot afford to miss it. The moment you notice your skin peeling or any hangnail, just use your nail cutter and cut the peeling part of skin or nail, carefully. This will eliminate any chances of painful injury in near future.
Not to mention, 10 days is a long period hence you would require a nail cutter for its usual function of cutting your overgrowing nails as well.
Detergent (just in case)
I usually don’t pack detergent, especially during a 3 day vipassana course as I carry sufficient number of clothes. But this was a mistake and I realized it during my last vipassana 3 day retreat. I was carrying a sticky liquid used to fix my beard which spilled inside the travel bag because its cap was not tight enough. Although I had kept this sticky material in isolation from other items especially clothes, when it’s a liquid you can have only limited control over it.
When I reached the goenka vipassana meditation centre and was unpacking I realized about this unfortunate spillover. I immediately got in touch with the administrator who almost rebuked me for not carrying a detergent despite being an old student (student who have attended at least one 10 day goenka vipassana meditation retreat in the past).
I met with an assistant and luckily he provided me with detergent. Three of my T shirts were slightly impacted by spillover and I managed to clean them as well as the travel bag before going to sleep, thanks to detergent and assistant.
“Always carry a sachet of detergent even if you don’t need it.”
Safety pin (must)
It is another item which comes as a blessing in disguise in emergency situations. You never know, anything can go wrong: zipper of your travel bag getting stuck, zipper of your trouser or jacket for that matter begins to malfunctions and so on. In all such unexpected scenarios, a safety pin acts as a priceless device to save you from difficult as well as embarrassing situations.
Things needed while travelling to vipassana retreat centers or any other destination for that matter:
Air pillow (must)
This is another essential thing to pack for your meditation retreat especially if you are particular about the thickness of pillow you use for sleeping at home, just like me. The best part about air pillow is that you can inflate it according to your requirement thereby controlling its thickness.
It will be very useful not only during your stay at dhamma center but also during your travel. It is easy to carry as you can deflate it when not in use.
Headphones or ear plugs (must)
What will you do if the person sleeping beside you in plane or train is snorting and as a result of which you are unable to sleep. In such a situation, earplugs or noise canceling headphones will make your life easy as far as neutralizing the irritating snort of your fellow passenger is concerned.
There are times when you are reading an interesting book like Alchemist and want to get rid of noise made by your loud co passengers while travelling. Sometimes, you just want to calmly enjoy the journey while watching the scenic beauty of surroundings through the window.
There is no better way to make the most of such a journey when you have your favourite music playing while wearing a good pair of noise canceling headphones.
List of items on paper (must)
Last but not the least, always maintain a list of items that you are going to pack for your goenka meditation retreat, on a piece of paper. This list will not only ensure that you carry everything you planned but also bring back everything along with you, without the regret of leaving behind your mom’s favourite nail-cutter.
I have observed that people have a tendency to forget things at their travel destination and I was not an exception. It was only after a couple of occasions when I forgot to pack or bring back some important items that I began to maintain this indispensable packing list for vipassana meditation course. Since then, I have never repeated the same mistake, thus the lesson for you here is to learn from my mistake.
Things to avoid during your stay:
Avoid any Wastage
As you know, all dhamma centers across the world operate on donation basis and there are no vipassana meditation course fees. The point is, dhamma centers have limited resources and all students must ensure that they don’t waste them be it food, water, electricity, tea, milk, pen etc.
Limit intake of Tea
When we are hungry after an entire day’s travel and served with a beverage like tea on reaching the your best vipassana centers, chances are high that we end up taking it in plenty. Keep your tea intake to the minimum especially if you are constipated.
I once made this mistake; I turned the handle of kettle to pour the tea in steel glass which was rather hot. Turning the handle back, to its original position, didn’t stop the pouring, as a result of which, glass was filled with more tea than what I actually needed.
Since I wanted to avoid the hassle of refilling the kettle with extra tea from my glass and keeping in mind that I am not supposed to waste it, I drank it all. During the same night, I realized that I am suffering from hyperacidity caused by extra intake of tea that too on an empty stomach. My trouble didn’t lasted here because the next morning I felt constipated as well.
I could be an exception here, as I hardly consume any sort of caffeine, be it tea or coffee probably because of which my body reacted in such a strange manner. But the idea is to be aware and cautious, when you are going to consume something during sn goenka vipassana.
“First add less than what you need, once it’s finished and you still have more appetite, you can always add more.”
This is perhaps much wiser way to go about managing your eating pattern during vipassana silent retreat.
A basic rule thumb which I follow is to:
“Eat a little bit less than what I require”,
this ensures that I don’t feel sleepy as I meditate. Overeating, on the other hand, will result in you feeling sleepy especially during meditation sessions which are held right after the meal breaks.
This brings me to the end of part-2 of a rather long packing list of items and what to avoid for a 10 day or 3 day vipassana meditation retreat based on my experience of attending eleven such meditation courses in the last four years.
As I mentioned in the beginning, every vipassana meditation camp teaches us some new lessons so I may update this list by adding more items based on my vipassana meditation experience, as it increases, in future.
Meanwhile, if you have something in your mind to add to this post, do share it in the comments. Every disciple of vipassana is unique in his or her own way so your learning can be different to mine. Thus, sharing the same will add priceless value to the community of seekers of truth and happiness.