How did the 10 days Goenka Vipassana Meditation course unfold? How was the actual Vipassana meditation teaching? How difficult is the actual meditation technique? After having looked into the Dhamma Malaya, Meditation Centre facilities in the last blog post, see 10 Days Vipassana Meditation at Goenka Centre in Malaysia – Part 2, we will now look into the actual experience of the first 3 days, continuing on The Road to Vipassana.
The first 3 days Anapana, Tranquillity Meditation
The actual meditation course began on day 1, in the evening, right after a light meal at about 5 pm. We were shown a video featuring S.N. Goenka, in which he welcomed the 100 new students, reminded all about the 10 days commitment and introduced the first part of the technique. We were taught the first step of Anapana, a meditation technique which involves the observation of the breath in its natural form, in order to develop concentration and acquire tranquillity. Considering that the Goenka 10 Days Vipassana course is designed for people with no prior Vipassana, or better, Insight meditation experience, I found that beginning with a good foundation of concentration a very good practice, which would suit anybody, coming from all sorts of life. The teaching of the Anapana technique is spread over a period of 3 days, by the end of which, any of the students is able to move on to a successful start with Insight Meditation, the actual scope of the course, in order to develop Vipassana.
Tranquillity and contentration meditation
The development of tranquillity and concentration is a must for anybody willing to practice Insight Meditation. Without concentration the mind wanders all over the place and there’s no way to bring it back to a desired place of focus; the mind will just move from thought to thought and the person’s attention will be grabbed by any event which stimulates one or more of the five senses, in no particular order. This is basically the way, any untrained person in concentration will experience reality, barely as a chain of events in which the actor, sort of follows a script, on the fly. The illusion of freedom of choice is quickly realised. The reactive nature of our subconscious mind, takes us to any place, it will find most appropriate, without asking first. Depending on conditioning, bringing up, culture, state of mind, traumas and more, we will experience reality by following a predefined script. This is the nature of reality for human beings.
Anapana meditation benefits
Within the Goenka tradition, Anapana meditation is taught in order for students to develop a stable, focused and concentrated mind, as well as making the student tranquil, relaxed and ready for the actual Insight Meditation work. My experience of Anapana has been quite profound, in terms of purification of the mind and the rising of intense compassion, love and understanding of the human condition of suffering; I consider these extra benefits of the practice, which I gladly received. As the first 3 days unfolded, the students started to calm down and experience for the first time the concept of impermanence. The observation of the breath, “the natural, simple breath” as Goenka calls it, forces ones mind to clearly see how unstable the mind itself is; through guidance by Goenka in the videos as well as a Teacher on location at the meditation centre, students have the opportunity to have a first taste of Mind in its raw form. I have really enjoyed and appreciated the teaching of Anapana, which I find a very powerful and fast technique to get in sync with the present moment and to establish a stable observation platform.
In the next Blog post, The Road to Vipassana will reach the 4th day of the Goenka Vipassana Meditation course, the actual core of the whole practice, Satipatthana Meditation also called Insight or Mindfulness meditation. Insight Meditation produces as one of its fruits Vipassana.