10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course in Manila Philippines: The Road to True Happiness
“Whew! I got this! Almost there! I’ve made it this far now! Just need to focus on breathing… just breathing… ok… inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, ex….
Hmmmm, speaking of ex, I wonder how my ex is doing anyway… she’s probably miserable now and…. wait…. focus on breathing…. ok inhale….
Oh damnit I’m missing the NBA… hmmm…. I wonder if the Clippers made it? I wish Michael Jordan were back… oh wait… breathing…. inhale, exhale…
It’s like channeling the force Vince! Yeah! Like a Jedi! I wonder how that new Star Wars film is gonna be. That’ll… OH DAMNIT! Just focus on breathing….
Breathing… Well, ok almost done… we should be done sitting here by now…. let me just peek my eyes open a bit and check the clock…. SEVEN MINUTES!!! That’s it?!?!?
Damnit! So that leaves me with…. ummmmm…. 9 days, 23 hours and fifty three minutes left……….. I’m F****d ….”
The 10 Day Vipassana Meditation course, that isolates you from the world to dig deep within yourself and discover your true happiness or what’s really important, by leaving you alone with NO phone, NO internet and NO talking or any communication for 10 days…. was one of the BEST things I’ve done for myself, ever.
Right off the bat I’d like to recommend this to everyone out there, whether you’ve found your happiness or not, whether you’re stressed out from the daily grind of work or not, whether you think you need this or not. I really think that everyone should try this 10 Day Meditation Course at least once in their lives.
On the flip side, I also need to let you know that a Vipassana Meditation Retreat like this might initially sound relaxing and like a vacation, but it’s NOT! This retreat was actually one of the toughest things I’ve done, and I’ve been through military boot camp! It’s a real challenge mentally! Of course, with the tougher things you do in life, the rewards are also multiplied by just as much!
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills. (longer description of Vipassana – https://www.wheninmanila.com/vipassana-meditation-in-the-philippines/)
The course, held in Cavite, just outside of Manila, is a 10 day (actually 12 if you include your travel days, first day arrival date and last day departure) self exploring course. 10 days is actually the minimum for new Vipassana students and the courses can go as long as months.
Everyone gets something different from this course.
Personal miseries and trials are personally overcome through these techniques. In the beginning, each student is taught to just focus on breathing. It’s not like breathing exercises or yoga where you “work out” with the proper breathing, but rather you just observe, that’s it, you observe your normal breathing. You’ll find your crazy mind wandering to different thoughts and memories from the past to the future, from real to fake and from positive to negative! This is normal, but upon realization of this, you simply go back to focusing on breathing, which then brings you back to the present, to what you’re doing, which is breathing. Later on the technique gets more and more concentrated like being asked to focus on tiny sections of the body which slowly trains your brain to be more sensitive and it sharpens the mind. It may sound trivial but it’s really something that you have to experience for yourself to realize how this really works.
Through the 10 days of more and more sharpening practices, the mind slowly becomes more sensitive, more aware, more present and sharper. You’ll start to find deeper meanings to things you say, do and believe in. You get to open your mind, you get to dig deeper within yourself.
With the techniques, you learn that miseries in life all come from cravings. The more you get attached to different things, tangible or intangible, the more you can become miserable. It really brought perspective as to what the real important things in life are and should be. You also learn that all sensations, good or bad, always come and go. They never last and everything is impermanent. You learn to just observe things as they are and not to react emotionally to them.
Vipassana is non-religious. People from any religious background are welcome to join.
The courses are taught through video, recorded from 1991, by S.N. Goenka with assistant teachers assigned by Mr. Goenka flown in to help you by answering questions and moderating the meditation settings. The teacher, S.N. Goenka, though seen only through video, radiates a certain charisma and charm, or should I say radiates good karma, that made us feel very close to him and make it feel as if he were there himself.
On a more practical side, the course taught and organized through donations. This sort of keeps the integrity and non-commercialism of the technique. Food and lodging for 10 days all come from donations of students from the past. After completing the course, you too may donate for future students to hopefully learn from this technique.
The food served is an all vegetarian diet. The servers, cooks and staff are all past students who also volunteer their time. With that, the food really depends on the volunteer cook. We were fortunate enough to have an amazing Indian chef as our volunteer and the food was AMAZING! Veggies so good that they totally filled us up. Since they were mostly serving Filipino students, the veggies were cooked in stews and dishes that were made as your “ulam” to go with the rice. It wasn’t like salads everyday like some people might think once they hear the word “vegetarian.” Again, the food was EXCELLENT and was actually one of the highlights of the trip. But do note that aside from breakfast and lunch, you are only served tea and fruits at 5pm for your dinner. So I guess you can say it was sort of a diet retreat too.
As far as the facilities, they are very basic but decent. It really depends on who you talk to as I had some people complaining about how they didn’t like the tiny single beds and the small bathrooms, while others talked about how great the facilities were. So I guess it all comes down to perception. I would say that all the facilities were donated so you shouldn’t expect any 5-star accommodations. I do wish that the grounds were bigger. Being there for 10 days really made it feel too small and crammed. Other than a meditation hall, barracks and dining hall, we had a tiny garden to walk around. There weren’t even benches or chairs, other than the plastic stools you use for dinner. So again, very basic accommodations, but enough to get through the 10 days. I guess you’re not there for the outside views anyway, you’re there to view yourself on the inside.
Males and females are separated during the course but you will see the male/female counterparts during group meditation sittings. You will get to talk to everyone on the last day though after the “Noble Silence” is lifted.
I have to again emphasize how TOUGH it was! Not communicating and being away from the rest of the world was a trial on it’s own. Not to mention the heat of the Philippines adding to the mental toughness needed. It was REALLY hot there.
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