Well, a 10 day vipassana course is pretty much like an 8 day sesshin except in 
the following ways. The vipassana course goes for 10 days and there is 
absolutely no talking, reading, writing or any form of communication 
Wake up at 4am; last meal 11.30am; lights out at 9.30pm. Mediatate all other 
times. There is no emphasis on how you sit to meditate and you can use whatever 
you like (any number of cushions etc). The first 4 days just gets you to 
concentrate on the air moving in and out of you nostrils with the 4th day 
concentrating only on the space below the nostrils where the breath 
enters/exits. On the 5th the Vipassana 'technique' proper begins which involves 
a kind of 'scanning' of the body (from head to toe) or subtle sensations. This 
has the effect of pushing the consciousness into very subtle levels. On the 5th 
or 6th day you're expected to not move for one hour - not one movement! This is 
realllllllllllllly difficult and pushes you into levels of pain you cannot 
to imagine! However, an amazing thing happens. You can be in intense pain 
the 40 minute mark (if you haven't moved), but suddenly the body/mind 
experiences a letting go of the pain and changes to intense bliss and euphoria 
and I mean ecstasy (personally, I don't think this is anything 'spiritual', but 
just the effect of endorphins). The lesson learnt is that nothing lasts 
(pleasure - pain) and so not to cling to/avert anything. Equanimity is 
the state 
that walks that middle line. Now, this may all seem pretty obvious to those of 
us aquainted with Zen and Buddhism *but* reading or imaging pain/pleasure is 
thing, but the intense experience of it (try not moving *at all* for one hour) 
is another. Furthermore, the course is absolutely free of any religious 
icons/paraphenalia and is also completely free of cost (incl. accom. and food). 
An amazing experience. The SAS of the meditation retreats!


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