1. Vipassana. A Curious Experiment

by HelluvaGirl

Disclaimer: This is a personal experience of a novice in Vipassana, presented as a series of insights, not an attempt to render advice or explain the technique in full extent, and should not be taken as guidance or a comprehensive course report. 


I can clearly sense his disapproval from short texts which, in seconds of trying to “shut up”, become messages of open concern. I smile. He must have been my father in the past life.

Why so long? Why 10 days instead of 3, which would be way more reasonable, given the “brutal” conditions? It’s as if you start running a marathon without any preparation and experience of running, he says.

Friend knows my rough patches. Some of them vaguely, some of them – in quite a detail. He must think I am desperately seeking a hideout. An exotic shortcut to a new me.

What I’m looking for instead is my own limits. Somehow I begin to sense it might be a longer journey to reach, let alone push them, than he or myself might have considered.


After I come back, he teases me, asking whether I survived. I promise to email as there’s a lot to report.

A funny thing: before leaving to Vipassana I regretted I wouldn’t be able to write there, to register, you know, everything. Now that I am back, writing oddly is not a priority. There are other, quite basic things I begin to hold on to, like sleep, meditation, teaching Pia to ride a bike, an engaging conversation…

He reminds me that I haven’t emailed.

Then calls.

I find it moving that he cares. I think I lack this. Even if the underlying reason of his concern is a suspicion I might do something destructive or plain silly with my life.

You know, sometimes various cults use the elements of Hinduism or Buddhism, and getting involved may be quite dangerous. What organisation stands behind this Vipassana?

There’s no organisation, just practitioners. It’s based on dana, or charity of old students so that new students could experience the benefits of the practice and make up their mind whether they want to make it part of their life. There’s a teacher, Satya Narayan Goenka, he is originally Burmese and has learnt the method from his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. The rest of them are called assistant teachers and they also contribute by practical advice without any financial reward.

I feel like a child when he commands me to spell Goenka’s name.

Are you googling him right now?!

Of course.

And so I tell him everything.