What’s the best way to end the 2018 year than sit a 10 days Vipassana silent retreat? Surely there’s plenty more options but I choose to spend my valuable time at the Kulim Vipassana Meditation center in Malaysia. The meditation center is a little 10 days “prison” in the mountains of Kedah run and managed by a few servers (volunteers) to deliver the excellent Goenka tradition meditation course.
On the day of the beginning of course, you’ll be kindly picked up by car by a volunteer at the Kulim bus station, no need to walk to the meditation center, although I have noticed quite a few students like to take the 4-5 km “hike” to the center; it must be something to do with getting a feeling of achievement from it or some kind of meditation tradition, not sure. There are also taxis available at the bus station if you happen to turn up too early or late. The Kulim bus stations is easily reachable from Penang Sentral bus station in Butterworth, it’s only a 50 minutes ride and costs less than 4 Malaysian ringgit.
The center can host roughly 50 students and is the usual 10 days Vipassana course offered on a donation basis by the Goenka worldwide network. For more info about the teachings refer to previous 3 posts about the Dhamma Malaya center in Gambang; the course in Kulim has the same structure of the Gambang center and delivers the same results to the dedicated students.
The meditation center compound is small and cosy, the female and male areas are simply separated by a plastic sheet. The dining area, used for breakfast, lunch and “dinner” offers great views over the below valley. Food is strictly vegetarian and comes in a great variety, nothing to worry about. The atmosphere is quite and peaceful, exactly was is needed to facilitate mindfulness and practice meditation. The center has a little Dhamma hall, cooled by fans which can host easily 50 students or more. Everything needed is pretty much there and the compound area offers a some space for walking and resting between sessions.
For best practice of Vipassana, bedding should be simple and comfortable, nothing too fancy. The Kulim center offers a dormitory solution where beds are separated by curtains; each student has his or her own bed as well as an hanging bar from clothes. Needless to say the dorms are clean and mostly bugs free, being in the mountains you’ve got to allow for some insects to be around. There’s enough toilets for everyone to be comfortable with sharing them; keep them clean and the few servers at the center will have an easier time in keeping things going smoothly.
During your stay, you’ll be able to wash your clothes by hand in the provided facilities; no worries, you’ll have plenty of time to clean your clothes while keeping up with the meditation and instruction schedule. Some people prefer to bring enough clean clothes for the whole duration of the course. Clothes at the center have to be of a sober appearance and cover your shoulders, chest and legs past the knees; plain coloured garments are best suited in order not to distract other meditators.
Overall my experience at the meditation center in Kulim has been positive as usual, what a wonderful time has been. The teaching provided is profound and the facilities are well suited. Most of the meditators during the course were new to the center as well as the meditation practice; it has been a real pleasure to hear their great comments about the 10 days silent retreat and see them smiling, happy with a little less baggage to carry for the future. Thank you so much to everyone that make such a facility available.
May we all be happy.