And so, I completed the ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat in Ladakh, in the Jammu and Kashmir of India. It was a straightforward decision. I have always been intrigued by meditation. I have experienced meditation programs taught by Indian and Buddhist teachers, the program durations run from three to eight days respectively. However, I have yet to experience the immersive experience of a meditation retreat.
So I decided to do it with Vipassana meditation as I have heard about it. When it came to choosing the location, my heart was set on going to Leh, in Ladakh the moment I saw its desert landscape. But since I have never been to India or a desert or a ten-day meditation retreat, I needed to know what to expect.
It didn’t help that there were only a handful of online reviews about the Vipassana meditation retreat and none of the reviewers had done it in Leh. I hope that for those deciding to make the trip, my review will help you in one way or another.
Day 0 at Vipassana Meditation:
– Registration- Please pre-register for a slot on their website. My friend was turned away before as she didn’t do so and the intake was full. Courses are often filled weeks in advance.
– Surrender all valuables, writing and reading materials.
– Settle into dorms
– Mingle with the other meditators. It was a pleasant surprise that it was an all-women batch for my intake. Amongst others, they came from Israel, Jordan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany and various parts of India. One Japanese lady and I were the only East Asians.
– Talk about rules/ expectations
– Meditation – and so your silent journey begins henceforth.
Day 1 to 10 :
– 4am: Morning bell
– 430am: Group meditation
– 630am: Breakfast
– 8 am: Group meditation
– 9 am: Meditate in hall or your own room (as per teacher instructions)
– 11 pm: Lunch
– *12 pm: Q&A with the Teacher.
1pm: Afternoon Meditation
– 5pm: Tea/Dinner
– 6pm: Group Meditation
– 7pm: Evening discourse
– 8pm: Group meditation
- 9 pm: Meditation ends
Sorry, the exact timings are a little foggy in my memory.
*A slip of paper will be put up in the dining halls during lunch for you to fill in your name if you would like to ask the teacher any questions regarding your practice. As my back pain flared up on Day 5, I made sure that my name was one of the first on the list and I went to queue up for my slot before 12pm. This way I could reduce the time and waiting and have more time resting. (If you have no questions, you have the hour to rest.)