What to Expect


All courses offered at the Vipassana Meditation Center, Dhamma Dharā are conducted by assistant teachers of S. N. Goenka using audio and video tapes of Mr. Goenka’s instructions and discourses. All ten day courses begin the evening of the arrival day and end early morning of the departure day.

Introduction to the Technique and Code of Discipline

It is essential that you understand the serious nature of the ten-day course before applying. Therefore, as part of the application process, all course applicants must read the Introduction to the Technique and Code of Discipline.

How Courses are Offered

The Vipassana Meditation Center has been offering meditation courses since 1982. Courses are made possible by volunteers who serve the courses and by donations made by students who participate in them. The teachers conducting the course, the course managers and all those who work in the kitchen are all volunteers.

All courses at the Vipassana Meditation Center are run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from students who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers and have experienced for themselves the benefits of Vipassana. Thus Vipassana is offered free from commercialism.

Students taking the course for the first time may give a donation at the end of the course. You may give a donation, small or large according to your means and volition. You donate not with the idea of paying for what you have received, but to give someone else the same opportunity in the future. Each center is financially autonomous and these donations are the only source of funding; there is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring the courses. Returning students may give a donation at any time. Once you have completed one 10-day course in this tradition, you are welcome to apply for volunteer service at any center around the world.

Accommodations

The men’s and women’s residences have single, double and triple rooms with bathrooms. Due to limited availability, single rooms cannot be be reserved.

You can see more photos of the center at the About the Center and Photos page.

June – September: Male students only

In the summer months, some male students may be housed in outdoor tents and cabins. Indoor accommodations are first given to students who must be inside due to health limitations, so please come prepared to be stay outdoors.

Both tents and cabins are large enough to stand upright. They are unheated and have no source of electricity. In the summer at night it can be as cold as 40°F (4°C), in the spring and fall it can drop to 30°F (-2°C). Therefore, please be prepared by bringing enough warm clothing.

During the camping season we do accept students who wish to bring their own tents. If you are interested in this possibility please inform us when you apply.

Arrival time

Please arrive between 2:00 and 5:00 pm. on the day the course begins.

This allows time for you to check in, get your accommodation and unpack. Late arrivals make it difficult for the staff to serve everyone efficiently and to start the course on time. If you have an emergency and are unable to arrive at the requested time, please notify us as soon as possible.

A light meal will be served at 6:00 pm. followed by a pre-course orientation.

Departure time

Please make your return travel plans before arriving at the center, as you will not have access to your cell phone until after the course is completed.

You are expected to stay until the course is completed at approximately 7:00 a.m. on the last day of the course. Although the course ends at 7:00 a.m., please allow enough time to clean your room before you leave. We rely on students to prepare the center for the next course.

When making travel arrangements, please allow sufficient time for travel to and from the center. For example, if you are flying out of Bradley International airport, all return flights should be booked no earlier than 11:00am. This will allow you enough time to clean your accommodation and arrive at the airport at a reasonable time.

After being accepted into a course, if your plans change in any way, please notify us immediately.

Health

A Vipassana meditation course is very demanding both physically and mentally. It is important that you are prepared for the rigorous nature of the course. After you have completed the application process if anything related to your physical or mental health changes, please contact the center prior to the course.

For the health and safety of all the students, it is important that you are in good health when you arrive at the center. If you are sick, or should become ill close to the start of your course, we ask that you reschedule for a future date. If you should need to cancel from the course because of illness, your next course application will be given priority.

If there is any significant change in your physical or mental health, or medications, please notify the center registrar. If you are presently taking medication, please remember to bring enough for the entire course.

Please do not come to the center if you have any flu-like or cold symptoms prior to or on the course date. Also please do not come if you have had contact with someone with flu within 10 days of course start date. Let us know as soon as possible so that we can give your spot to someone on the wait list. If you need to cancel due to illness, you will be given priority on the next course.

Bedbugs

You may have learned that bedbug infestations have recently made a resurgence in the United States. While not known to cause any disease, they can bite and leave itchy, red welts on skin. At Dhamma Dharā we are making every effort to keep students safe and pest-free. Students who have come into any contact with bedbugs should take extra precautions against transporting them. Please help us keep Dhamma Dharā pest-free for all who attend our courses. Thank you.

What to Bring

Please Bring

Required Items (not provided)

  • Alarm Clock, flashlight, and batteries for both.
    (You may not use your cell phone or other personal electronic device as an alarm clock)
  • Top and bottom sheet and pillowcase for a twin-size bed
  • Enough comfortable, modest, non-binding clothing for the duration of your stay. Pants or skirts that cover your knees while you are seated are acceptable. Midsection and shoulders should also be covered. Modest dress is required for both men and women.
  • Towel and all needed toiletries, non-scented personal hygiene articles and feminine sanitary protection
  • Water Bottle
  • Any medication you are taking. Please make sure you bring enough for the entire course

Suggested Items

  • Indoor footwear/slippers: easy slip-ons e.g. clogs, flip flops, etc.
  • A shawl or light blanket other than your sleeping blanket for use in the meditation hall

Seasonal Items

  • Seasonal outdoor wear: raincoat, umbrella, boots, hat, warm clothing, and Yak Trax (or similar shoe traction devices for the ice/snow).
  • Blanket or sleeping bag, in the event you are accommodated in a tent during the summer months.

We Provide

  • Meditation cushions: We supply a large base cushion for every student. We have a limited supply of smaller sitting cushions, so please bring any additional cushions that you may need.
  • Bedding: sleeping pillow and one light fleece blanket. A limited supply of extra blankets is available so you may wish to bring one of your own.

Please Do Not Bring

Clothing

  • Tight, transparent, revealing or otherwise striking clothing (such as low risers, shorts, short skirts, tights, leggings, sleeveless, tank or skimpy tops) may not be worn at the center.
  • Skirts, shorts, and capri pants must cover the upper legs and knees when you are sitting cross-legged.

Other

  • Cell phones and other personal electronic devices may not be used as alarm clocks during the course; they must be deposited with the management upon registration. They will be returned on the last day when the course is over.
  • Computers or other electronic equipment
  • books, diaries, journals and other reading/writing materials
  • musical instruments
  • personal food items (see Food below for more information)
  • tobacco in any form
  • non-prescribed drugs
  • Scented toiletries or perfumes
  • religious or spiritual objects
  • jewelry or other unnecessary valuables

NOTE: If you arrive with any of the above items you will be asked to leave them with the management until the end of the course.

Shipping

You may send items that you do not wish to carry, via UPS to:

c/o your name
V.M.C.
386 Colrain Shelburne Road
Shelburne, MA 01370

Food

A simple vegetarian menu, developed to satisfy the needs of most students, is offered at all courses. A sample menu is available. Please note, no outside food is allowed at the center and we are unable to accommodate special food requests. However, if you have food requirements because of a medically diagnosed condition such as diabetes or pregnancy, please contact the center immediately to see if we can meet your needs. For your information, there will be a menu card indicating foods that contain soy, gluten, dairy and nuts at the head of the serving table each lunchtime.

Sample Menu

Breakfast (Every Day) Oatmeal, Stewed Prunes, Fruit Bowl, Toasts and Jellies, etc.
Day 0 Split-pea Soup, Non-Dairy Cornbread, Soy Spread, Butter, Jam, Salad Bowl
Day 1 Spaghetti Sauce & Corkscrew Pasta, Brown Rice, White Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Non-dairy Herb Bread, Salad Bowl, Fresh Fruit Bowl
Day 2 Baked Nutritional Tofu, Quinoa / White Rice, Steamed Kale or Summer Squash, Salad Bowl, Applesauce & Whipped Cream
Day 3 Red Lentil Dal, Curried Vegetables, White Rice, Brown Rice, Salad Bowl, Fresh Fruit Bowl
Day 4 Tofu–Broccoli Tumble, Quinoa / White Rice, Baked Potatoes, Ketchup & Sour Cream, Salad Bowl, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 5 Spiced Beans & Whole Wheat Tortillas, Brown Rice, White Rice, Chopped Lettuce, Cilantro, Tomato, Salsa, Sour Cream, Grated Cheese, Salad Bowl, Seasonal Fruit
Day 6 Baked Marinated Tempeh, Brown Rice, White Rice, Steamed Squash, Salad Bowl, Gingerbread with Whipped Cream
Day 7 Vegetarian Chili, Brown Rice, White Rice, Non-Dairy Cornbread, Steamed Greens, Salad Bowl, Fresh Fruit Bowl
Day 8 Macaroni and Cheese, Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli & Carrots, Salad Bowl, Apple Crisp
Day 9 Whole Mung Dal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad Bowl, Fresh Fruit Bowl
Day 10 Veggie Burgers and Whole Wheat Buns Sliced Tomatoes, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Quinoa, White Rice, Steamed Spinach, Salad Bowl, Coconut Raisin Cookies
Day 10 – Teatime Hummus & Veggie Sticks, Rice Cakes and Bread, Fresh Fruit Bowl, Condiment Trays