If you are reading this article then there is a strong likelihood that you have completed a 10 days Vipassana meditation course at one of their vipassana meditation centers. Performing vipassana meditation for 10.5 hours a day during the retreat is definitely challenging. But as you have gone there with a sole purpose of practicing vipassana you are able to maintain the continuity of the meditation routine. Moreover, the environment and conditions are conducive for maintaining the continuity of vipassana meditation.
Just think of a person staying at a remote location, not allowed to talk to anyone and has no access to mobile, internet or any other gadget. If this person will not perform vipassana as per the vipassana meditation daily schedule what else will he do? Thus, it becomes relatively easy for a vipassana meditator to perform and maintain vipassana continuity during the retreat.
Why most Meditators struggle to maintain Vipassana Daily Practice at Home
However when the students are back to their respective homes they often struggle to maintain 2 hour routine after vipassana retreat at the center is over. This is because of change in the environment and conditions. When you are at vipassana meditation center as a student you are restricted to speak, kill, lie, use mobile, TV, internet etc.
During the retreat you have to follow a strict vipassana timetable of waking up before 4:30 am and eating breakfast at 6:30 am and lunch at 11 am. But when you are at your home there is neither any aforementioned restriction nor you are required to follow any strict schedule. Thus most of the vipassana students find it difficult to maintain a routine of 2 hours daily vipassana practice at home.
For those who have forgotten or are yet to do their first Vipassana meditation course, let me remind you that at the end of the course, S N Goenka ji and the respective Assistant Teacher recommends every student to continue to practice vipassana at home for at least 2 hours a day, 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening, to get the maximum vipassana meditation benefits.
My Vipassana Experience
For those who don’t know about my vipassana experience, I had completed my first 10 days Vipassana meditation course back in August 2015. But after that like many other vipassana meditators I too was unable to maintain vipassana daily practice routine at home. It was only after my second vipassana meditation course which I completed in august 2016 that I started practicing vipassana meditation at home on a daily basis. And since then I have been practicing it daily without any exceptions.
It was quite challenging in the beginning but gradually it became a part of my daily routine. Just like I take a bath, brush my teeth, eat food three times a day, I do meditation as well, twice a day, every day! If you too have completed a 10 days vipassana meditation course but are unsure of how to do vipassana meditation at home don’t worry i have got your covered.
Three Action Items for maintaining Vipassana practice routine at Home
Because in this article I will provide you three simple action items that will teach you how to maintain Vipassana daily practice routine at home as an old student:
Watch or listen to Vipassana Discourses at home.
As a vipassana student you must be aware that during the course there is a discourse by S N Goenka ji in the evening between 7 pm to 8:30 pm everyday. During 10 days vipassana courses discourse is played on a TV, however only audio is played during 3, 2 or 1 days courses. Irrespective of audio or video the knowledge shared in the discourse is indispensable for every student.
Discourse is like a meeting between the teacher and the students in which the teacher explains the theory behind what students had practiced during the day. He explains what it is that you practiced today, why you practiced it and why it is practiced in this way only.
For example, during the first day’s discourse he explains why students need to comply with 5 precepts of vipassana i.e. no killing, no lying, no stealing, no sexual activity and no intoxication, throughout the course. He also explains what vipassana is not. How vipassana is different from a religion and how a person from any caste, color or religion will be equally benefited by doing vipassana, if practiced properly.
Why its Important to listen to Discourses
In short, by listening to discourse every student understands the crux behind what they practiced during the day. That way, they remain in sync with the theory behind the activity they performed during the day in the form of annapana or vipassana mediation.
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Now if you will listen to the discourse when you are at your home it will not only facilitate revision of all important concepts of vipassana but also activate the neurons in your mind which are linked to vipassana. As a result you will get a natural drive to maintain a daily vipassana meditation routine with the same enthusiasm as you did during the retreat.
Tip: You can listen to vipassana discourse while you are eating or doing any activity in which you are not necessarily using your mind like walking, jogging, cycling ets. You can get access to all discourses on dhamma.org app which can be downloaded from this link on your smartphone or you can simply open below URL in your browser and follow the below steps on how to listen and/or download vipassana meditation discourses online :
- Select the language of your choice if you want to listen in a language other than English.
- After that, select the day for which you want to listen to the discourse. For example if you select day 3, the third day’s vipassana discourse will be played.
- After that, click the play button if you want to listen to the discourse while being online. You also have the option to download the discourse on your computer, that way you can listen to it even when you don’t have internet access.
Recall your stay at Vipassana Meditation center during the Retreat
During your vipassana meditation retreat you will come across many difficult and challenging situations. More importantly you will be able to deal with those situations and overcome those challenges in the most appropriate way which is contrary to what you normally do. I have had such experiences many times during several vipassana retreats which I have completed over the last 6 years and I am pretty sure others too must have experienced the same.
By doing vipassana we learn how to act rather than react to the external stimuli. For example, during my first meditation course, I think it was the seventh or eighth day I was about to wipe the bathroom floor when I noticed that an insect was sitting on the wiper. Now under normal circumstances I would have probably reacted by hitting the insect in an attempt to kill it.
However, during the retreat being well aware that I am not supposed to kill any being even if it is an insect, I calmly held the wiper and kept it outside my residential quarter. When I returned after attending another vipassana session I saw that insect was no longer sitting on the wiper. That way I got rid of the insect by acting in a calm manner rather than reacting violently to kill it. I have also observed that most of the insects at vipassana center are not aggressive and are mostly harmless.
Tip: Never attempt to kill an insect during a vipassana meditation course. If you come across an insect during the retreat chances are high it will not harm you unless you try to harm it.
How Vipassana makes you Self-Reliant
Since we are alone and cannot talk to others we deal with most of the situations all by ourselves. So such meditation retreats also makes us more self reliant which is great for our self improvement. Sometimes we are encountered by a very strong flow of negative thoughts while doing vipassana. And after a lot of struggle and hard work we eventually manage to bring our focus back to our breath or body sensations.
From overcoming several challenges and fears to changing our habit patterns we do it all during a vipassana meditation retreat. So my point here is to recall those positive moments from your memory such that they become a significant part of your thoughts patterns. Now every time you recall such a memory, again the vipassana related neurons will get fired and will multiply in your brain eventually giving you much needed drive to maintain your vipassana routine of 2 hours of daily practice.
Attend Vipassana Virtual Group sittings
After covid disrupted our normal lives in early 2020 most Vipassana centers were closed throughout the world. As a result all vipassana students were unable to attend any meditation retreat for almost a year.
Taking into account the unpredictability of covid situation, many centers across the world started conducting vipassana virtual group sitting which can be attended by any old student of vipassana from any part of the world. I myself have been attending a these virtual sessions conducted by the California center in the USA twice a day, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening.
Strengthen your Vipassana routine through Virtual Group Sittings
This has definitely strengthened my vipassana practice at home and I got the opportunity to perform mediation with students all over the world. Although students are not sitting in the same dhamma hall but still when many people practice vipassana together their collective vibrations spreads positivity and happiness across the world.
The best part about virtual sessions is that I am aware that my calendar is busy between 7:30 am to 8:30 am in the morning and 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the evening because I am going to perform vipassana during these 2 hours. So I will fit in other activities during the remaining part of the day without disturbing my vipassana virtual group sittings.
To add to it at the end of the session you get the opportunity to ask questions from the assistant teacher who will give the most appropriate answer just like any AT will do during the physical vipassana meditation retreat.
If you are an old student you too can join virtual vipassana session through zoom cloud meeting application by click on this link:
It will ask for a password, if you are an old student I am pretty sure you must be aware of the password. Still if due to any reason you are not aware of the password you can drop a message to me through this page confirming that you are an old student and I will provide the password.
I will end this article by sharing an important aspect about vipassana meditation which will clarify all your doubts about how to do vipassana at home.
Initially most students feel that two hours are too much. Yes on paper two hours look like a lot of time however one must realize that by practicing vipassana our mind becomes sharp and our concentration also improves. As a result we are able to complete our tasks faster which allows us to pursue personal activities during the saved time one of which is practicing vipassana itself. Thus, the bottom line is that once you begin to do vipassana for 2 hours a day you will never feel shortage of time because you will become more productive in doing your day to day tasks.
How is your vipassana practice going at home especially during the lock-down when you were not getting the opportunity to attend a mediation retreat at any of the dhamma centers?
Do you practice for 2 hours or just 1 hour?
At what time do you do vipassana?
And most importantly are you able to restart and maintain your daily vipassana practice after following the aforementioned action items?
As always I am happy to hear from you. So do share your inputs, challenges and answers in the comments box. Till next time, Be Happy.