So let’s give this some context. 100 hours of meditation in 10 days. Why? Because this is the schedule of a 10 day Vipassana meditation course
Whether you’re considering attending a course, you’re simply curious, or you’ve never even heard of Vipassana before – I hope after reading this you have more of an understanding into what Vipassana is, and see whether you feel pulled to attend a course yourself.  

What Is Vipassana?

Vipassana is an ancient Indian meditation technique and means ’to see things as they really are’. It’s an observation based technique that focuses on the connection between the mind and body through scanning the body and it’s sensations. You may have come across some form of body scanning before as this is a common mindfulness practice used today and is a technique used in lots of meditations.

The 10 Day Course

This is by no means a ‘retreat’. It’s hard work. So if it’s a peaceful getaway you’re after, look elsewhere. That being said, taking the course could help you to see how you can live a more peaceful life in the long run, thus requiring less getaway’s – so never say never.. 
The course is lead by S.N Goenka through audio and video recordings. It’s split into male and female and all contact is to be avoided. This means no eye or physical contact, and all students are to remain silent for nine full days – people think this part sounds tough, but for me it was the easiest. You’re not to read, write or do anything really other than eat, sleep and meditate. Why is all this necessary? So that you can truly make the most of and understand the technique, plus immerse yourself in the experience with no distraction or influence from anyone or anything else – making it completely you own individual journey.
There’s a code of discipline and a daily schedule that’s followed.
Your food and accommodation is provided for the 10 days and nights and it’s all donation based, which you make at the end of the course based on your experience.  
That’s the course on the surface level, but it goes way way deeper… 

Why I did a Vipassana Meditation Course

The first one I did was back in 2017 in New Zealand. This is where my inner journey really started – volunteering in a spiritual community at a yoga retreat just outside of Auckland, Kawai Purapura. I’d never heard of Vipassana before. A couple of friends from KP were doing a course and I got curious. Just before I was leaving NZ, I thought I’d see if there were any spots left on the course. There were only places on the waiting list, so I applied and left it up to the Universe. 
So this first time was purely down to curiosity – about the experience, the technique itself and also what insights it could potentially bring. Admittedly, I didn’t make the most of this course. I’d have naps when I was supposed to be meditating in my room, and my understanding of the technique and discourses was absent by this new experience I was taking part in.
The second course was a year and a half later, in 2019 in England. I hadn’t been through any traumatic experiences that I felt needed healing, nor was I unhappy with anything in my life. I’d just had more experience meditating since the first course and wanted to try again. Plus, I felt disappointed that I hadn’t made the most out of a tool that could open up personal realisations and path to becoming the kind of person I wanted to be.
Everyone’s Vipassana experience is different. Some people can have very liberating experiences, whereas others can experience struggle in a whole host of ways. But this meditation technique brought me a number of insights about myself and about life – and I want to share these with ya… 


Again, I want to stress that these were my own personal takeaways – you could experience similar or completely different. So please read the below as a guide and try not to create any expectations. Try not to attach to my insights here and think your 10 day Vipassana course will be anything like this. I’ve participated in two, and both were completely different with different insights, experiences and understandings.
So here are my main takeaways from the course that gave me a teeny glimpse into inner peace. 

1. Everything Passes

Hanging clocks - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
This insight was a healer for me. It really helped me to balance my emotions with the break up that happened just one week before. The way I learnt this however wasn’t exactly a bed of roses…
My legs experienced allll kinds of pain – thumping, numbness, needles, achey heaviness that felt like they were about to drop off.. At the time, the pain felt excruciating and was all I could think about. It’s intensity made it impossible to imagine it ever buggering off. But of course, at the end of each meditation session, I’d stand up, stretch a little, and off I’d walk as if no pain ever existed. 
After about the fifth day, the pain became surprisingly bearable. I did question whether the pain was just becoming less intense, but that wasn’t the case. It was my reaction to the pain. My reactions turned into, well.. nothingness. Instead of reacting, I accepted. Because I understood that this pain would pass sooner or later. This is ‘anicca’ – the impermanence of all things. And as I reacted less, the pain just kind of.. evaporated – and as a result, lead to much deeper meditations. 
Every. thing. passes. Fact. Pain passes. Happiness passes. Anger passes. Heck we all pass away at some point! So why do we get so caught up in these emotions or circumstances that sooner or later simply vanish? I’m not saying we should all be heart-and-emotion-less – please, feel. And be grateful you can feel – this is what makes us human at least.
But if you truly understood that the tough times will see brighter days – do you think this would make it easier for you to detach from this tough time and it’s pain? And if you knew that this bubble of joy and happiness won’t last forever – wouldn’t you want to make the most of every single second while it’s there? Understanding that everything passes can help you to live in the present moment without clinging. 

2. Detach From Reactions

Couple arguing - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
This insight came mostly from the physical pain I experienced. Sounds fun I know..
On the fourth day you’re given the task of trying not to move for one whole hour during the group sittings – and my Lordy does this inflict some pain. Physically and mentally – for me anyway. Physically, because the intense sensations in my legs and back felt excruciating. And mentally, because I felt so determined to not move, that when I did, the feeling of failure felt seriously disheartening. But as the days went by, I began applying this to my life outside Vipassana..
Why do we react? Someone suddenly pulls out in front of you – you react. Your other half does something that P’s you off – you react. Or something happens at work that plays with your confidence – you react. Either internally, or by giving the reaction a voice. But either way, all this reaction does is cause you harm. How? Because you’re allowing this external situation to affect you internally.
The more you let go of and accept what’s happening, the softer your reactions become. They turn into nothingness. And in turn, so does your pain.
No matter how blissful or painful the situation, detaching from it and accepting whatever is going on in that moment brings so much peace. Detaching means being aware of what’s happening but not letting it consume your energy – and remembering that everything passes. 
When you’re that still for 10 hours a day, your sensitivity is amplified. Itches, numbness, pins and needles all feel agonising.. The only thing you can think is how much you want to scratch or move – but to do so would be reacting. Reacting to the uncomfortable sensation and allowing it to effect your physical and mental state of stillness.
So yes, you could say resisting the temptation to scratch an itch is what lead me to this insight. To realise that when you overcome your desire to react, you’re causing less harm to your own peace. And not only your own, but others’ around you by adding less fuel to any fire you’re exposed to. 
In life, some situations will obviously be harder to detach from and accept than others. But you always have a choice. It’s always up to you whether someone or something generates unease, pain or anxiety inside you. Just as it’s always your decision to view and feel situations in a positive, light-hearted way that brings you lessons and understandings. Crap things happen. Either physically, mentally or both. I personally haven’t had any devastating tragedies cross my path, but for what difficulties I have faced, I’ve found controlling my reactions has helped me to deal with certain situations in a much lighter and happier way. 

3. Running Away

Girl running away - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
During the Vipassana meditation course, it’s likely you’ll experience some moments that feel like complete bliss and inner peace. Like your whole body has completely evaporated. Then as this incredible feeling ends, you find yourself wanting to get back to this place of ecstasy. You crave something you no longer have – or perhaps something you never had.
Likewise, you’ll probably experience unpleasant sensations and pain that make you experience unwanted suffering. When this happens, all you want to do is run away from it and block it out.
This is something that happens so unconsciously in everyday life. But what’s actually happening is a diversion from the present moment. You’re trying to avoid what you don’t like or don’t want rather than accepting and dealing with it. So effectively, you’re trying to create this fantasy life that’s full of rainbows and pixies where everything goes the way you want it to. But this isn’t reality. You’re not being present.
You crave that love and affection from somebody. You crave that chocolate or pizza. Or you crave to live that life you saw on Instagram. But all this does is make you feel you don’t have enough. Or that you’re not enough. That you’re missing something. Likewise, you go buy something to feel better about not getting that job. Or you get wasted and sleep with someone else to deal with a breakup. 
So basically, you’re putting all your energy into wishing for something else and running towards that fantasy, rather than sending your focus to all the wonderful things you do have. Everything you do have to be grateful for in the moment and in your life. 
So think about it… If you constantly try to avoid unpleasant situations or feelings, do you think you’ll ever learn how to deal with these and grow? And if you live a life focused on wanting more of what you don’t have, do you think you’ll ever feel complete or content? Stop running away and feel what’s happening without attachment – unbearably unpleasant or wonderfully blissful.   

4. The Importance of Compassion and Patience 

Patience and compassion - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
You have no idea how different both experiences were for me. Why? I put it down to one simple difference in particular – patience. The first time around, I was so flipping hard on myself. I remember tears running down my face from the pain after Goenka announced the challenge of sitting still for one hour. Then the disappointment and failure I felt inside as I moved my legs. I also remember meditating in my room and basically thinking I needed to be checked into a psyche ward,  all because I couldn’t manage 30 seconds of just focusing on my breath and not letting my mind run absolutely awol. 
So what changed? 
I wasn’t so hard on myself the second time around. Maybe you can relate. Your mind often tells you you’re not good enough. You should be better at this or quicker at that. But no matter what setbacks you face, there’s always something else waiting around the corner. Everything is impermanent. 
If I had to move my posture, or I was having a bad meditation that couldn’t see 30 seconds of stillness, I just calmly accepted this with no self judgement or punishment. Instead, I’d just think ‘okay, this meditation is pretty shite right now, but my next one could be my best yet..’. True say, it could have also been my worst, but either way this one wasn’t going to last forever – so I didn’t beat myself up about something I knew was 100% going to change.
Outside of vipassana, this is much harder. As judgement creeps in about my work, appearance, or the opinions of others, it’s easier to attach to this inner chatter when in a world of noise and chaos as opposed to the complete silence of vipassana. But remembering to practice this is helping to bring more and more noticeable peace of mind. 
Patience and compassion isn’t just something to give to yourself, but to everyone, everything and every situation around you. If there’s someone who rubs you up the wrong way or there’s something going on that you don’t want part in, do you really want to put more bad vibes into the universe and to your life by sending anger or negativity? Just be understanding that everyone is walking their own path, and show empathy and compassion that their’s may have caused them to act in certain ways you may never understand.
Whenever you feel judgment or negativity arising, see if you have the strength to turn that into compassion. 

5. Learn Through Experiencing and Persistency 

Learn through experience - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
You learn things every day. You read, watch or hear something you didn’t know before – therefore, you’ve learnt something new. But have you truly understood and learnt until you’ve travelled to the depths yourself and experienced this something first hand? Is knowing something all the knowledge you need tin order to form a solid and justified opinion? To a certain extent and in some situations, yes. But I realised during Vipassana that when you actually experience something yourself, this lesson and understanding is taken to a whole new level. 
You know everything comes and goes. You know the mind wanders. And you know that only you create your own happiness. But when you are in a position of knowing how all this feels, you have more of a chance and more understanding of how to actually work and grow past whatever it is you’re facing. 
You’ve probably read and seen lots about mindfulness, yoga or meditation these days, but it’s about actually experiencing everything you see and hear so you can truly understand the benefits and what it’s actually all about. Vipassana provides the space and time for you to see and experience things clearly. For example, the understanding of ‘anicca’ and impermanence. Although this was quite a brutal way of learning, this lesson was so clear for me because I experienced it. 
And this wouldn’t have been learnt if it wasn’t for persistency. Just like everything in life. It was only because I continued with the course and kept at it that I could properly experience and learn. Persistency goes hand in hand with patience really. Life and its lessons tend not to unfold the way you’d like unless you’re practising both. Patience and persistency.
If you want to see something happen, yes, please do put your trust in the Universe and practice patience, but also work to make things happen. So if it’s something your heart truly wants, be sure to keep at it – even if it feels like it’s taking forever. 

6. Letting The Mind Run Wild

Man struggling with his mind - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
Oooh the mind.. The mind is a powerful thing. It can be creative and brilliant, but also destructive and distracting. You probably already know this, but boy will 10 hours of meditation a day make you understand on a whole new level. 
Our mind just basically wants to run free. That’s how we’ve been conditioned, and that’s what we let it do. It creates fictional stories that either make you smile or feel anxious based on fiction and ‘what if’s’. It plays past events over in your head that make you laugh or cringe. But what it really struggles to do, is focus on the moment that’s happening. right. now. 
The mind can only focus its attention on one thing at a time. Period. 
Have you actually paid attention to what feelings arise when you focus on nothing but the moment. When you’re not wondering what the other person’s thinking. Or when you’re not thinking of everything you need to do at work. The bodily sensations you feel when you’re not thinking about something in some other place or some other time.
Okay, you are a human being, so I’m not saying to live peacefully you can’t have thoughts about your past or future. I’m saying don’t dwell on it. Don’t get lost in the thoughts that come with yesterday’s lessons and tomorrow’s goals. Let these help you figure out how you want to live the moment you’re experiencing now. 
The idea of living in the now and being present isn’t just about being at one with nature or following some hippy or mindfulness movement – it’s allowing your mind to be clear of it’s distracting chatter, so you can make the most of, enjoy and seize every single moment that’s unfolding right in front of you. Second by second. Without any unnecessary, egoic or unsettling distractions that are your thoughts. When you stop letting your mind run the show, and direct your attention somewhere useful, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can connect with yourself and with the world around you. 

7. Your Happiness is Dependant on YOU

Happy woman - Vipassana meditation | Life in a Balance
Thoughts about this one came to me more in the evening discourses. I thought about how we rely on others to make us happy. And the way we often place blame on the outside for our suffering. We really don’t look at ourselves enough and see that only we have the power to decide how we feel. Sure, outside circumstances can have an effect and make it harder to understand this – but it’s true.
Someone does something you’re not down with. Someone breaks up with you. Or you lose your job. None of this is your fault right? You had no control over these things. So therefore, the outside is to blame. Well.. no. Because it’s up to you to decide how you want deal with this situation and how you’re going to let it affect your levels of suffering or happiness. You can choose to place blame, or to feel sorry for yourself. Or you can choose to focus your attention on the positives.
I’m not saying it’s easy because life can throw some real curve balls once in a while. But the more time you spend looking inward, the more in control you’ll feel of your happiness and your life. 


At the end of the day, shit happens in life and sometimes it’s worse than others. I get that. To be able to live completely as I mention above would mean you’re on your way to becoming a Buddha.. But simply realising these things and trying to implement them into your life can help you to live more light-heartedly and harmonious.
Really, all of the above come back to living in the present. Most of our conditioning or experiences make it hard for us to understand what this actually is, because we’re so used to living differently to the above. But what this course taught me was that being present can truly help you to enjoy a happy and positive life. And meditation is just one tool towards that. 
Do you need to meditate for 100 hours in 10 days at a Vipassana course to come to your own insights and realisations. No. As I said, this is just one route. And to be very honest, it’s a tough one. But if you commit to the technique and enter with an open mind and heart, I’m sure you’ll learn what you need to – however painful or blissful the journey may be. 
Would I recommend doing a 10 day Vipassana meditation course. Absolutely. But at the end of the day, only you know whether this is something you’d like to do, which is exactly why I wanted to share my own experience for you open readers. For me, this was a completely healing experience full of harsh realities yet liberating insights. It’s something that I’ve continued to refer back to in my everyday life and has helped transform my relationship with my boyfriend. 
Let me know how yours went! 


I’m Gabbi – an Osho & Oracle card picking Libra who caught the travel bug about 3 years ago. The travel bug has since then kind of turned into my new lifestyle. I guess you could call me a Digital Nomad – but I’d much prefer Digital Gypsy. 



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