Recommendations for your first Vipassana meditation course
If you are planning to take a ten day Vipassana course there are some things to consider. If your child or kids are still little, it’s best to wait until they are at least 3 years or older before going on such a retreat.**
You’re required to wake up at 4am every day and bedtime is 9pm. Though only seven hours of sleep, you may realize it is quite enough considering your main focus during the day will be meditation with rest periods, meal times, tea time and a discourse every night. However, if you are already exhausted upon arriving, you might need a few days to adjust.
During the retreat you wont be using your cell phone or the internet, so it would be best if you plan ahead and make sure you have everything in order as best as you can before you leave. Have backup, and backup for your backup, depending on the work you do and/or the childcare you will need. Also, write down the center’s phone number for any emergencies.
Comfy Clothing, Meditation Cushions & Daily Routine
Take super comfy clothing, nothing too clingy or tight…not only because of the centers’ policies but also because you want to try to make yourself as comfortable as possible while meditating and won’t want clothing that starts to feel restrictive after sitting for a while.
The centres generally provide meditation cushions and some even offer regular chairs or meditation chairs, but if you want to bring your own cushion you can.
– Get your PJs on and teeth brushed during the last break, before the final meditation and discourse so you can go directly to bed at 9pm and not waste a minute of sleep.
Avoiding back pain
You will be sitting for the group meditations and since you’ll be meditating several hours a day, you might develop some back pain. However there are several ways to avoid or alleviate this:
– Make sure to find the most comfortable position to meditate in. I f this means arriving to the meditation hall a few minutes early just to adjust yourself…do so and try different ways of placing the cushions you have and adding or removing any. If there is any difference in your initial position, this will get magnified as time passes so make sure you are initially comfortable.
– Get up and walk during the breaks even during the 5 minute ones between sessions. After meal times, rest periods are allowed where you can also go out walking in nature .
– Practice yoga postures for alleviating back pain during longer break and rest periods. Yoga is compatible with Vipassana and you can practice it in your room and on your bed if there is not much space. Yoga is discouraged in the meditation hall and hallways though so be mindful of that and trying to use what space you have.
– Stretch every day. If you are unfamiliar with yoga you can also stretch during break periods to help.
– Meditate on your bed some sessions. If you find you are getting back pain, you can meditate lying down on your bed in your room for meditation sessions allowed. There are several mandatory group meditation sessions where you must be in the meditation hall but there are also additional sessions after where you are allowed the option to meditate in your room or in the meditation hall. If your back hurts after an hour long meditation session and the pain lingers, meditating lying down can help, just make sure you are alert enough, otherwise you may fall asleep (this is okay if you are exhausted, but not if it happens every time as you will miss out on properly learning the technique).