Basic Course Information
How do I learn Vipassana?
New students learn Vipassana by taking an intensive, residential ten-day course. Instructions are provided by S.N. Goenka on video and audio tapes. One or more assistant teachers will also be present to provide guidance and answer any questions about the technique.
As there is often a waiting list, applying one or two months in advance is recommended. After reviewing information about the program, course requirements and code of discipline, you can check our course schedule to see which dates are available and register for a course either online, by fax, or by mail. To request an application packet by mail, please contact Course Registration.
How much does a course cost?
Each student who attends a Vipassana course is given this gift by a previous student. There is no charge for either the teaching, or for room and board. All Vipassana courses worldwide are run on a strictly voluntary donation basis. At the end of your course, if you have benefited from the experience, you are welcome to donate for the coming students, according to your volition and your means.
Are there shorter courses than ten days?
Actually, the ten-day course is the minimum; it provides an essential introduction and foundation to the technique. To develop in the practice is a lifetime job. Experience over generations has shown that if Vipassana is taught in periods of less than ten days, the student does not get a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique. Traditionally, Vipassana was taught in retreats lasting seven weeks. With the dawning of the 20th century, the teachers of this tradition began to experiment with shorter times to suit the quickening pace of life. They tried thirty days, two weeks, ten days, down to seven days--and they found that less than ten days is not enough time for the mind to settle down and work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon.
How many students attend each course?
The meditation hall has a capacity of 80 students. The separate male and female residences accommodate up to 33 men and 47 women. Most ten-day courses have 70-80 participants.
What are the accommodations like?
Accommodations are simple, but comfortable. The men and women residence buildings consist of double rooms, each with an attached bath.
What kind of food is served?
The menu is a tasty and nutritious vegetarian menu. Special diets due to medical conditions and serious allergies can be accommodated with advance notice. Please discuss any dietary issues with the Registrar during the registration process.
Students Enrolled in a Course
Be sure to confirm your attendance by e-mail or phone 3-4 weeks before the course starts. If applying less than 3-4 weeks before the course, please send a confirmation within three days of being accepted. If you don't confirm, your spot may be given to another applicant.
Arrival & Departure
Students should arrive between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on the day the course starts. The course will end at 7:00 am on the eleventh day. Returning students attending part-time who are arriving after the course has started must give a specific date and time of arrival to ensure someone will be available to greet them.
If you are presently taking medication, please remember to bring enough for the entire course. If there is any significant change in your physical or mental health, or medications, please notify registration.
Please be aware that we are in a rural setting with lots of tree and grass pollen around. Many people with allergies and asthma tend to have a flare-up of seasonal allergies while at the center, particularly between March-October. Please bring any medications that you might need.
What to bring
- sweaters or other warm layers (as needed)
- slippers or house shoes - optional (outside shoes should not be worn inside)
Bring enough comfortable, loose fitting clothing for ten days, as only minimal hand washing facilities are available. Temperatures range from 25°F (-5°C) to 60°F (15°C) with a good chance of rain from September through June, and from 45°F (7°C) to 85°F (30°C) during the summer. Dressing in layers is helpful for dealing with changing weather conditions. All indoor areas are heated to about 68 F.
All students should observe the rules for modest dress as outlined in the Code of Discipline. Shorts, tank tops, transparent, tight or revealing clothing, etc. are not permitted. Tights or leggings should be worn only under a mid-calf-length, loose-fitting skirt.
- warm jacket and/or raincoat
- warm hat
Participants must go outdoors several times a day to walk back and forth from the residences to the meditation hall and dining hall. The items above may not be needed during the summer months.
- meditation cushion and/or bench
- meditation shawl or blanket - optional (separate from sleeping blankets)
- small cushions for knees, etc. - optional
A limited supply of cushions is available, but please bring your own if possible. A floor mat will be provided for each student.
- twin-size bottom sheet (please bring a bottom sheet for the mattress even if you will be using a sleeping bag)
- sleeping bag and/or top sheet and warm blankets.
A twin-size bed with a mattress and pillow is provided for each student.
- soap, shampoo, etc.
- unscented deodorant
- other toiletries (shaving and sanitary supplies, etc.)
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- towels: bath, hand, washcloth
- liquid laundry soap for handwashing (optional)
(Please avoid using items with strong scents or perfumes)
Note: It is especially important to bring your own bedding (top and bottom sheets, pillow case, and blankets or sleeping bag) and towels (bath towel, hand towel, wash cloth). We do have a limited supply for those who cannot bring their own or forget to do so, but it helps to conserve water and other resources when students provide their own. Please bring your own, if at all possible.
PLEASE NOTE: Students are asked not to bring any personal food, reading, or writing materials for use during the course. All cell phones, palm pilots, pagers and other communication devices will need to be checked in on the first day, and will not be returned until the course is over. (Do not plan to use your cell phone as an alarm clock.)
In case of an emergency during a course, friends or family can call 360-978-5434 x.3 to leave a message for a participant. The message will be relayed promptly.