‚R5‘ Vipassana Retreat

The Vipassana center in Dehradun has around 35 rooms for men and 35 for women, or even more – kind of guess. In my course where around 65 people, 35 men and 30 women. Women and men sit separate in the meditation hall and have a total separate tract of accommodation and dining….

Vipassana is a silent retreat with teachings, done by Mr. Goenka, the founder of all the Vipassana centers worldwide. Vipassana means, ’see things as they really are‘. More then 2500 years ago, the Buddha also exercised this already existing meditation technique on his way to enlightenment. Later he sent his followers around the (Buddhist) world to preserve the pureness of this Vipassana technique, to exercise it and bring it back 2500 years later to India. In fact, all the purest Vipassana teachings where gone, except in one Burmese (Myanmar) monastery. Here, a monk had the feeling, he has to share this technique with lay people around 80 years ago. To this time Mr. Goenka, born in Myanmar, got in contact with Vipassana. First he wanted to get rid of a tremendous migraine, but the monks, who would lead the retreat, refused to take him, because taking the retreat, getting only rid of the migraine would not fulfill the retreats purpose, healing the migraine would just be a byproduct of the teachings. So another 6 month went by, until Mr. Goenka agreed to take the course. After that he practiced for 14 years silently for himself. Meanwhile Mr. Goenka and his family had moved back to India. Because in Hindu culture, also Buddhist culture, it means good, to pass good things to the parents, he decided to teach the benefit of the course towards some relatives and friends. The parents also agreed. So he maid all the preparations for teaching the 10 days Vipassana in silence. The course was so successful, that Brahmans, Priests and even monks wanted to experience the discovery of Mr. Goenka. So it went on, course after course. Now numerous centers around the world exist and all the courses are free, means, if you like,( you can leave a donation. Especially for the first course you are only allowed to give a donation, when you complete it fully. Leaving before finishing all ten days means, that you can’t give a donation.

The Vipassana retreat includes 10 days of silent. The day before there is travelling time, arriving, and a first introduction. The course finishes in the very early morning after completing 10 days silent. There are sitting sessions from 4.30 am to 6.30 am, 8 am to 11 am, 1 pm to 5 pm, 6 pm to 7 pm, 8.30 pm to 9 pm and a teaching discourse done by a video from Mr. Goenka, who died about 10 years earlier in the age of 96, in the evening. Some of the silent sittings are guided by some instructions, and there are some singings from Mr. Goenka in the morning. Very beautiful – it’s in Pali, the language spoken 2500 years ago and I compare it with calligraphy, because it feels so precise and beautiful, its an art, how he sings. There are 5 commitments to agree with, at least for the period of the retreat. No killing (also not animals), no stealing, no sexual activity (after retreat its ’no sexual misconduct), no telling lies, no intoxicants (drugs, cigarettes, alcohol…). There are only two meals a day, the older students, who participated at least once have just tea in the afternoon, the new students get a fruit and tea in the afternoon.

In the first 3 days its just exercising concentration, being with the breath at the nose and later at a small area below the nose to witness sensations. At the forth day the real Vipassana meditation is introduced. Its a kind of scanning the whole body, up to down, and down to up, all the time. A teacher sits in the room in the front, who invites you from time to time forward. He asks some questions and is also available for questions from the students to other times. Up to 7 to 8 volunteers are in the room to support the teacher and all the students. The idea is not to find a result, but just observe, what ever happens, good or bad, wonderful or uncomfortable feelings, just observing. Mr. Goenka does not get tired to explain, that this are not Buddhist teachings, but teachings of universal natural rules. Sure, the Buddha also practiced them, but he practiced not something new, he practices universal rules, who where already known to his time. We can see and experience, what is the truth. For example not being attached. Our mind has the tendency to see everything negative. There are all the negative feelings, like hate, anger, rage, greed…. and on the other side positive feelings, like love, enjoyment, happiness…. When we taste the good side of the feelings, the mind has the tendency to crave, but craving make it not possible to stay with the ‚good‘ feelings. Everything comes and goes, and its just to observe….
The scanning has the effect to lighten up the body mind system, so areas in the body, for example, can be seen and observed. Also we can understand and experience, that everything what we are is coming and going, it is possible to observe even the smallest parts in us, like atoms and smaller….
Also all feeling needs to get to observed, the scanning helps to also experience the feelings.
The scanning takes place from outside to the inside of the body. Means, if you are a beginner, than you just start from you skin area. You scan up and down all the time, to experience and observe, if there is something, ….. but its not thought, to go inside by intention…., it will automatically happen that you go further inside. But it is possible, that it takes very much time, even month or longer, to do so. Its important not to judge… just to observe, and that’s the key at all…. not judging, just observing….. after a while you will also see, where the observer is, how you even observe…. and that’s another step towards realization, who you really are…. (this is just my comment)
People have all kinds of experiences, who seem maybe different in the beginning, but it all leads to the same …. Our nature, the universal knowing, God, is leading us step by step to the truth…..

Comparison with the silent retreats I was leading
I attended the silent retreat, because it was really time again. On the peace walk I did some silent retreats with some people, but in the last years mostly alone. (But when we walk together, we walk always in silence) I love it so much to be silent with people, I just love it. The most beauty is the rising up in me and the others. So beautiful and deep. Since I was 32, I developed silent retreats. First I did it by myself and later I led quite a number of silent retreats, mostly in Germany. If I count them all together, it comes up to more than 30 or so. Now I was so curious to find out, if a Vipassana retreat is so different, or lots of similarities can be found.
The nature of silence, the nature of universal wisdom, of God, makes it clear, there are a lot of similarities. The moment, we sit still, and the mind comes down step by step, its so natural, that the real truth is slowly slowly overtaking and brings everything in order again. But just to know, this is not a process of days or weeks or month, its a process through years and years….. Sitting still, and reducing the incoming sound, and not act anymore, is a sign for the God-self in us, to get active, to overtake the ‚behavior‘ of our person self, to be the God-self.
It is helpful to do a silent retreat at a silent area, surrounded by nature, even inviting nature to come into the place, where the sitting is happening.
So I found a lot of similarities. Even though the Vipassana meditation is more strict, there is always sitting, it comes to the same path. In my retreats I have some other elements, like walking meditation and some toning from the heart, also a mindfulness way of sharing experiences in the middle and at the end of the retreat, it comes to a similar result. What is different at Vipassana, is the constant scanning of the body, which has some real good and effective impact, how you can witness yourself and your body, it is easier, not to get stuck at some problem area, for example. But even having a softer start with the sitting (you can lay down for a while, if you really need) for example, and having some losing exercises for the body in between in my earlier retreats, I feel, its coming to the same goal. Because people are coming with a lot of exhaustion. To allow them, to relax more and more first, brings the natural strength step by step, to extend the sitting periods by everyone’s need by itself. But I like both ways.
But I have also some criticism. First a positive one. The Vipassana organisation had made some rules, even if it fits not so good with me personally, to protect people from doing to much. So you can only attend the next level of retreats or longer retreats by attending at least 3 ground level courses. In between there has to be a three month gab. Because a lot of beginners come to the courses, who never experienced deep spiritual work, it is very good to protect them for doing to much. For example, smokers quit or alcoholics quit there habits and drugs just before the course, to get clean…. So the body need time to lift up energy.
Second. I witnessed that others and me also had the experience, that the body start shaking by itself, the teacher and staff are stopping this process. Little shaking is allowed. In my case I felt it two days before it happened, and I realized, this maid be a problem in this course with so many people, and also I never had it that strong. But on the other hand I can understand, that it is stopped, so it enfolds only slowly slowly. But I know to the same time, if its coming up, then it is right, on a universal or natural level… but it needs people, who can handle it. In this case, with a lot of beginners, it would maybe irritate them….
In my silent retreats I use very simple and easy body movements and some breathing exercises, to lose up the body. I guess, because of that I never had in my retreats any incident of to much shaking happened…?!
Third. Because of a lot of scanning, this is lifting up the energy of everyone a lot. And I myself, with all of my experience had sometimes to make a break, because I know, this is to much… and then, after a while I started again. But if someone does not stop at all… then you maid can’t sleep… as I heard from some friends earlier. One of them did not sleep for 4 days….
Also another guy, actually my roommate told me after the retreat, that he is practicing a while, but ones he had to go even into a mental hospital…. I think, its because he did to much at home… and I could witness a big blog of conctete energy at his upper body he has to work through. But this you can’t to fast….
People get said, that they should practice every day 2 hours meditation, in the morning and the evening each one hour, what is in general good, but for some, it is just to much, because the energy in the body gets build up to quick ….
Forth. In my Sound healing courses I did the scanning at people only, when I had to search for something, but very shortly, to do later some working on it. I super rarely did it on myself. But the scanning itself is super good and working fantastic.

Some of my experiences
Very remarkable was by scanning my belly, stomach. All my life I have trouble with my stomach. Cramps and multiple trauma. While scanning these areas I witnessed the connection between my stomach and the teeth. I had, and I have still so many phantom pains at my teeth now (this phantom pain happens, when the healing process starts). That’s very very remarkable to me. I ruined lots of my teeth by eating sugar, and until then I understood, that it was the main reason….. but I found out, because of this blocked stomach it all happened, too!!! Very good and big inside. I go on with that.
I anyway have a kind of good possibility to look inside my body, but through the scanning it got deepened and its on the way to improve even better. I was able to get inside some areas and organs, really good.
When I started scanning I found myself in a golden body, I felt totally like a Buddha body. But the shape of my body was even optimized in a perfect form. I did not expect any of that and I was not visualizing. I asked the teacher, because in the general introduction, it was taught not to pay attention to any visual appearances, what to do…. and he told me, not to pay attention. Later I found out, to see these images, that’s ok, and because of my experience in the last lots of years its ok. Then I told him again, that I allow myself, to see all of that, told him about my background, and he agreed…
Further I saw hundreds of smaller statues on my body skin. And therefore I was also not prepared. And it came up in every session again and again. I had also a appearance as myself as a statue with something remarkable on my head, a long kind of peak extension or antenna and it repeated and repeated again. Later I asked some people on different statue stands, and they all told me, that this kind of statues gets only produced in Thailand…. I by myself was more thinking of some pagodas in Myanmar, which I had seen earlier on pictures. I my childhood I actually had once a puzzle of a golden pagoda in Rangun, capital of Myanmar.
Also during some days I was very connected with a statue somewhere. I myself have a little sitting problem, my body always sits a bit crooked to the right sight, and it always feels total fine, because I don’t feel it, for me it feels straight. When I try to correct it to a straight position, it feels I have to put a lot of effort into it. Searching for the reason of not sitting straight, I was again connected to this statue thing. Like I felt, I am a statue… so strange… then I saw a statue in a big storage room, again and again. This statue was in the second row of a shelf together with hundreds of even thousands of them. I saw, that this statue is not balances, the shelf underneath was lower at the left side from my viewpoint, so the statue was sitting crooked to the right. Because I could not correct the sitting of the statue I tried to move it a little bit more towards the other statues on that small shelf. There the statue was sitting straight. Oh wonderful I thought, before realizing, that the shelf would not be able to hold all of the statues in that line, maybe collapse. So I tried to move the statue back, where she was before, but it did not work. After a little while, the whole shelf collapsed. How crazy is that? Could it be possible, that I am so connected with one statue somewhere in a shelf, that it even makes me sit crooked? Why would I be so connected to that statue? What kind of history do we have together? …… So interesting….. I will be so exited, if I maybe one day would find out.
The golden spiritual colour I always carry with me in my heart. Its not the gold we can see in this reality. Its a bit more yellow, orange, apricot, something in between these and a gold colour, rayed. Since nearly 30 years I know about, that I carry this colour to spread it around and so on…. so somehow this is not a surprise, that the golden light energy turns up here all the time.
I had another experience with the golden light also that Vipassana retreat, but not the first time. At some point I could colour the area underneath me, sitting on this meditation cushion and underneath my knees and underneath everything under my body. Suddenly everything became very light. I did not feel any pain at my ankle anymore, I even did not feel any weight of my body anymore. I did not feel any connection with all the ground at all ….. and I understand…. that’s the effect, when the Buddha sits on the lotus flower, that’s why that image is done to see, so that’s the evidence, sitting on a lotus flower, that it is possible to do so… The image Buddha is sitting on a lotus flower has this background behind, to be weightless.
I had some more experiences at the retreat, but I cant write them all down….

In my retreats also the golden energy was in the room. But here in the Vipassana retreat I could not witness it.
At the end of the retreat we all did a Metta meditation, that’s the Buddhist version of sending love all around the world. I practiced that in my retreats, too, by sending everything, what we had achieved around the planet, for the benefit of all, together with all the beings who had joined us, like angles and light beings, element and nature beings….

Since I walk for peace I walk without own money. Means I accept and trust, that everything comes to me. Food, accommodation and also donation money. I like it so much, that I want to continue doing so after I finish the peace walk. I am impressed, that this Vipassana organisation is totally run by donation. This is a big inspiration for me, that even such big things can be achieved by donation. Beautiful.


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