My 10-day Vipassana Course at Igatpuri (India)

Sunrise at Igatpuri
Vipassana Meditation Course Schedule

When I decided to accept the invitation of a friend I had no idea what I was getting into.

A 10 day meditation course with a schedule that made us start at 4am and finishing at 9:30pm.Limited food intake, (specially for me only bread and bananas), limited sleep allowed of about 6h (for me was less than 4h sleep a day), the humid heat from India, no talking for 10 days, no electronic devices, no pen and paper in a beautiful scenario of Igatpuri at the Dhamma Giri – Vipassana International Academy.

The days that seemed like weeks (really!)

The first 3 days were incredible tough because of the lack of sleep, lack of food, no talking, and many feelings of fear, anger, frustration, rage, sense of lack of freedom and so many other that arise in a situation like this. In such a way that makes want to go away and give up all of that. You miss everything in a amplified way. You talk too much to yourself, you have dreams and nightmares in clear 3D. Even when you feel tired and want to sleep, your mind doesn’t feel like it. It’s amazing how you can stay there like I did with less than 4h sleep per day in a non consecutive way.

The other 3 days you start to get used to the timetable and you realize that the only way not to get crazy is by applying the technique you’re learning all the time. So, you try to meditate all the time. Awareness, feel the sensations and not evaluate your thoughts. You start learning you have no choice but “just observe!”.

The last 4 days, a feeling of anxiety arises and it was very difficult to deal with it. You can’t write your thoughts and feelings, you can’t talk to anyone but yourself, and despite the mind has learned to be quieter, you’re on your own. All your senses are improved by 10 times or more. And by now you have your personal routines well established on the campus.

Sunrise at Igatpuri

The last day you are allowed to talk to other students and the preparation to come out and incorporate the learnings into your life begin.

The food (what a challenge!)

Because of the culture, because I wasn’t used to eat the foods they gave us over there. This was my biggest enemy. Not only physical but also mental.

During those days I ate everyday:

Breakfast (Aprox 750kcal)

  • 6 slices of brown bread (500)
  • 6 small bananas (250)

Lunch (Aprox 165kcal)

  • 2 medium carrots (75)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (50)
  • A spoon of white rice (40)

Dinner (Aprox 450kcal)

  • A spoon of peanuts (200)
  • 6 small bananas (250)

Aprox total 1365kcal

Incredibly I just drank 2,5 liters of water a day. Compared to other places I had been which took me to numbers above 8L a day. My urine had no color so I believe it was enough. I only had some energy in the morning and at night. So in the last 2 days I ate 2 bananas at lunchtime and it made all the difference. When we are in big deficit, small changes make all the difference. My eating became like pill intake. And was really a challenge because of the smells in the canteen. Sometimes I almost threw up. And most of the days I didn’t feel like eating anything but breakfast. Never felt specific cravings. But in the last days I was tired of eating the same thing everyday. But I had no alternatives.

Now, 2 days after I still very hungry all the time. I’m still adjusting to Portugal time and my timetable again. And… Using Vipassana to control my eating. I feel no particular cravings but I feel the need of other flavors, smells and textures. I was lethargic all course and the last 4 days I had dizziness every time I changed body positions. So I decided to add salt at lunchtime. Just a tinny coffee spoon. I don’t know if it changed anything. By the end of the course I lost 4kg. Mostly muscle. And my first workout was really difficult.

In Conclusion

After the course I know myself even better. I confirmed a few things fundamental to me. Things that have to do with food, sleep and material needs. Confirmed that freedom is one of my most important values, that I need to write.. Again I confirmed that tinny changes can make a difference… The power of vipassana meditation and the power of my mind (even when it is agitated)… I don’t need tv at all. And I found out the minimal things I can live with… My close relationship with nature, the incredible I can be communicating with others without intention and without even talk (found out by the end of the course incredible things people knew about me and the influence I had in them)… Strange things.

So, in a course like this you will find out things fundamental and non fundamental to yourself! And ways to deal with yourself, others, your mind and body. But most important: how days are so long (if you want them to be) and how much vipassana is good.

I still don’t know how I survived (physically and mentally). Was it the vipassana technique? 🙂 Wonderful! Highly recommended for radical minds. A mental bootcamp!

If you need to change your life if you can’t find your way, if you need power, if you need to know yourself better, if you need a practical technique that really helps your mind to be sharper and stronger, if you want to know your limits, do it! It’s a lifetime experience! You don’t have to be as radical as I was and go to India to face different foods and climate and this as nothing to do with religion. See the Vipassana Meditation Website


  1. Carlos Pinto diz:

    Welcome back … I hope everything has gone well … Grande Paulo Sena. Hug

  2. i did my vipassana from Dharamshal in Himachal Pradesh five years ago.

    i had met another physiotherapist from spain there. he used to dress in Indian attire like you. And even use the Indian toilet!

    i was wondering if you are the same one? 🙂

    – v

  3. Paulo Sena diz:

    I did it in Igatpuri

  4. Rohit diz:

    My jiju is daylight drinking in the home please me help

  5. sid diz:

    im gonna do the same in next month… in igatpuri

  6. sonalee diz:

    Certainly this technique of meditation is on my list. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Paulo Sena diz:

    Well… Sharing good things with the world! Being European and doing it in India, was a real challenge! Good learning experiences should be shared. 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

  8. D diz:

    Did vipassana when i was 16,did it again at 18,its incredible,did it in igatpuri and had mr Goenka around.gping again this year.

  9. D diz:

    So much positive energy and peace is inside us.and so much rebel also,and so many thing grow within us and what a wonderful knowledge tnat we can see it without interfering in it.:)

  10. vishakha bhagat diz:

    I’d done it 15 yrs ago.I’m adoctor. 7 days I was thinking ,”what I’m doing here even after being the science student.This is like hypnotism.It is not scientific.etc.”But when I was sent to CELL & I experienced that devine feeling of becoming BODYLESS ,I think definately there is something which I should continue.I’m practicing when ever it is possible,but still I’ve got it’s result.

  11. Paulo Sena diz:

    Nice! Very nice experience! Very tough too 🙂

  12. joshi mugdha diz:

    I want to delete the name form 23 jan 13 to 03 Feb.2013 course and add the new name how it will be

  13. diz:

    I know , I know i been there for 10 days and i want to go there once again , i live 60 km away from there in Nashik

  14. Matti Törmä diz:

    Just for everybody’s information: There is NO LIMIT on food intake on Vipassana courses (in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, as taught by S.N. Goenka). Eat as much as you feel is necessary. The menus do vary according to center locations, European centers having tasty veg international foods and sallads, Indian centers with variety of rice, dhal(lentils), subji(veggies) and chapati (flat bread). In some countries the food might be a bit spicy (not in India, but in Sri Lanka), if there’s more chili than you can take, don’t hesitate to ask for something milder :).

    I’m telling you with experience from more than a dozen courses. Don’t be scared, we won’t leave you hungry :). What might happen is that your appetite wil naturally reduce as you don’t spend so much energy during the course.

    Peace & Love,

  15. Paulo Sena diz:

    There is enough food but some people like me has very different habits. That is why I had a very powerfull experience.

  16. My name’s Alta from Meriden, United States and I have to say your article is quite entertaining. The clearness of your post is rather good and I can suppose you are an authority on this subject. With your approval, would you let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with future articles? Thanks a ton and please keep up the awesome work.

  17. Paulo Sena diz:

    Thank you for the comments.
    Use RSS please.
    Have a nice workout today!

  18. Ajinkya diz:

    U can also make movie on was really entertaining.thank u.I really want to know time table and food

  19. Shuchita diz:

    Hello Paulo, first of all, let me say that you have penned down your thoughts so wonderfully and with great transparency. I had googled out schedule during ten-day course and the contents shared by you popped up. you have given a clear picture by attaching the schedule during day time. in addition, many visitors to your page have added valuable information. i am all set to go their on 6th of August. i wanted to know if there are any yogic practices, asanas or anything like that, as i wish to dress up in Indian attire, the saree. it seems that there are no asanas so i can wear a saree all 10 days. thanks once again. once back, i shall surely try to pen down my thoughts if possible…

  20. Paulo Sena diz:

    About the clothes… Well… I think so. Women and men are separated, so we only saw women far away. Exercise is not possible, no talking, no writing material or communication material of any kind. Only meditation, eat and sleep when possible. An alarm clock is allowed and it is very important. At least for me it was.

  21. shyambinodini diz:

    very nice post. thanks. could you pl describe what kind of meditation you have to do there from the first day. they say you just watch your breath‚ but I found that until and unless your mind is calm and quite its not possible. pl say what you have experienced. thanks again.

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