Vol 8 Ask Frank,  Should I go to a 10-day meditation…..

Q. I have been doing anapana meditation for 20 minutes a day, for more than a year now I have been wanting to go to a 10-day vipassana course to accelerate my practice, which I booked recently.

I came to know that a friend of mine from college had a full psychotic episode during the retreat and he was taken home on day 6….


I am a long-time meditator who was in a meditation group years ago and the teacher had discussed his 10-day Vipassana retreat. Frankly, it sounded not only challenging as he described it but it did not seem to add-up to any real benefit other than a badge of courage for the one hundred hours or so of meditation he went through in the retreat. 

None the less some others in our group took up the challenge and three of the four that went quit within the first 5-days and the other just talked about how difficult it was. Some people do have real breakthroughs with retreats like this, but it can be exhausting and go the other way, as you have noted. 

I have done retreats where 4-6 hours of meditation a day along with a few hours of teaching on a specific subject over 4 or 5 days really did wonders for me. I relaxed, enjoyed the experience, was able to reflect on the teaching and made new friends (even though most were silent retreats) which is how I define benefits.

 I would suggest trying a few retreats with 3-4 hours of meditation sessions spread out over the day along with some techings and see how that works for you.

 If you handle that well you may have enough of a foundation beneath you to try the 10-day, 10-hours of straight meditation a session retreat and get some benefit. Consider your journey from the point of view that it is not as a sprint. Rather it is like the tortoise that crosses the finish line ahead of the hare going at a consistent pace that yields results that sink down to the being level. 

This approach negates the whiplash and gives you time to meditate on the inevitable questions and things to ponder that will really advance your practice. I am prejudiced toward these shorter retreats as you can tell. I have never done a 10-day retreat because I could not reconcile the reward/benefits for myself. Whether you deposit is refundable or not should not factor into your decision. I hope this helps you in some way. Good luck with coming to a decision.

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