Frequently Ask Questions

Why is the course 10 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. Less than ten days is not enough time for the mind to settle down and work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon.

How many hours a day will I be meditating?

The day begins at 4:00 a.m. 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 provides a context for meditators to understand their experience of the day. This schedule has proved workable and beneficial for hundreds of thousands of people for decades.

What language is used in the course?

The teaching is through recordings of S.N. Goenka, speaking in English & Hindi, together with a translation into a local language. Tape translations exist in most of the major languages of the world. If the teachers conducting a course do not speak the local language fluently, interpreters will be there to help. Language is usually no barrier for someone who wants to join a course.

How much does the course cost?

There is no charge for either the teaching, or for stay and food. At the end of your course, if you have benefited from the experience, you are welcome to donate for others. for the coming course, according to your volition.

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

Chairs are provided for those unable to sit comfortably on floor because of age or a physical problem.

I’m on a special diet. Can I bring my own food?

If the diet is too specialized or would interfere with meditation, we might have to ask you to wait until you can be more flexible. Students are required to choose from the food provided to them, rather than bringing food for themselves. Most people find the choice ample and like the simple vegetarian diet.

Can pregnant women attend courses? Are there any special arrangements or instructions for them?

Many pregnant women come during pregnancy to work deeply and in silence during this special time. We ask pregnant women to ensure they are confident that their pregnancy is stable. We provide extra food they need and ask them to work in a relaxed way.

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 co-meditators. However, students are free to contact the volunteers about their material needs, and to speak with the teacher. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in this course; silence is an essential component in maintaining the continuity.

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

For a person in reasonable physical and mental health, who is genuinely interested and willing to make a 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 good results.

Is there anyone who should not participate in a course?

Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval.

Can Vipassana cure physical or mental diseases?

Most of the diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning Vipassana with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake. People who try to do this waste their time because they are focusing on the wrong goal. They will neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease.

How about depression? Does Vipassana cure that?

The purpose of Vipassana is not to cure diseases. Someone who really practices Vipassana learns to be happy and balanced in all circumstances. But a person with a history of severe depression may not be able to apply the technique properly. The best thing for such a person is to work with a health professional. Vipassana teachers are meditation experts, not psychotherapists.

Why do I have to stay for the entire ten days?

Vipassana is taught step by step, with a new step added each day till the end of the course. If you leave early, you do not learn the full teaching and do not give the technique a chance to work for you. Also, by meditating intensively, a course participant initiates a process that reaches fulfilment with the completion of the course. Interrupting the process before completion is not advisable.