The vipassana meditation camp goes for 10 days. These days are filled intense meditation and self-discovery
What happens in a 10 day camp for personal meditation? If you are looking for a detailed description, this is not the article for that. A lot of things happen and not much happens at all. But the key is to not read too much ahead and discover a lot for yourself.
I attended a Vipassana camp at Dhamma Manda near Napa Valley, CA
I’m going to try in this article not to provide too many details on what happens. This is for several reasons. One, this type of camp is a very personal experience. What you experience may not be what somebody else experiences or for that matter, what I experienced. Maybe better, different. So I certainly do not want to bracket everybody’s experiences with what I may have gone through. Secondly, there is a lot that can be discovered as you’re going through these 10 days. Reading about what might happen could condition your brain to expect some of these things, and then not leave you open to actually being able to clearly go through all the experiences that you might otherwise. So for those reasons, I’m not going to get into the details The setup is very, very simple. On the first day, you check in around three or four in the afternoon. You turn in all your valuables, including your cell phone (yes!). The camp requires that there should be no contact with the outside world. No reading, no writing, no talking, and no interacting at all with other participants, not even in a nonverbal way
The first evening, although is exempt from this. There is a very nice dinner that you can have with your fellow campmates. Keep in mind that this is the last dinner for the 10 days. On the rest of the days, there is no dinner. On the morning of the first day of camp is when everyone takes an oath of silence after which the period of no interaction begins. It’s not as hard as it sounds. You will get used to it. In fact, I ended up quite liking it. You are allowed to have conversations with and ask questions of your teachers and/or the staff at the center (only if needed). The day starts with a gong going off very early at 4:00 AM. The first session, which is a voluntary session, starts at 4:30 am and goes till 6 am. This is followed by breakfast at 6 am. The camp I attended had a stew made with fruits and nuts for breakfast. I decided to stick to cereal. You have cereal and coffee that’s available. Thank God for coffee!
All the meals are cooked by volunteers. They always say that you live like a monk while you’re at camp. This is because you’re not being asked to pay for anything upfront. There is absolutely no charge. So you are living off the charity of others. You are eating meals that are prepared by volunteers who are not paid. So that is also a charity. And you’re making use of living facilities that you have not paid for. So you are living like a monk. All the food is vegetarian, a very pure kind of food, but very tasty. Lunch is usually at 11 am. The afternoon required attendance session goes from 2 pm till 3:30 pm. Then you get a break to take a walk or sit and meditate in your own room. Dinner is at 6. Followed by a video lecture by Mr. Goenka. These were recorded years ago when he was alive and are amusing and interesting. This is then followed by the last meditation session which usually ends around 9 pm. The routine feels good and the non-interaction becomes a part of the routine. I felt totally at peace throughout the days. I hope to return to another camp in a few years