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.
These ten-day Vipassana meditation courses are very serious, a deep operation of the mind. They can be a rigorous undertaking, both physically and mentally. They are residential, in a rural setting, and presuppose a high level of responsibility and maturity from each student. It requires students to spend most of their time alone, without speaking to other students, inside their own mind, meditating for up to ten hours per day over a period of ten days. While the course includes lectures, instructional tapes, a few meetings with the teacher, and some limited time for questions, the bulk of the ten days is spent within the autonomous, private sphere of a person’s own mind. The meditation course requires a reasonable capacity to maintain focus, cooperate in a large-group setting, follow detailed instructions, keep to a delineated time schedule, maintain silence, not disturb other students, and to work with a teacher with honesty and full cooperation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- 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 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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, fitbits, devices that can access the internet, 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.
You may send items that you do not wish to carry, via UPS to:c/o your name
386 Colrain Shelburne Road
Shelburne, MA 01370
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.
|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|
|Day 1||Red Lentil Marinara Sauce & Corkscrew Pasta, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Non-dairy Herb Bread, Salad, Fresh Fruit|
|Day 2||Baked Nutritional Tofu, Brown Rice, White Rice, Steamed Kale, Salad, Banana Bread|
|Day 3||Mung Dal, Curried Vegetables, Raita, White Rice, Brown Rice, Salad, Fresh Fruit|
|Day 4||Tofu–Broccoli Tumble, Brown Rice, White Rice, Salad, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies|
|Day 5||Chick Pea Masala, Brown Rice, White Rice, Baked Potatoes with Ketchup & Sour Cream, Steamed Bok Choy, Salad, Fresh Fruit|
|Day 6||Baked Marinated Tempeh, Brown Rice, White Rice, Steamed Squash, Salad, Pumpkin Gingerbread|
|Day 7||Vegetarian Chili, Brown Rice, White Rice, Non-Dairy Cornbread, Steamed Greens, Salad, Fresh Fruit|
|Day 8||Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese, Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli & Carrots, Salad Bowl, Apple Crisp|
|Day 9||Coconut Curry, Brown Rice, White Rice, Steamed Greens, Salad, Apple Crisp and Whipped Cream|
|Day 10||Veggie Burgers and Whole Wheat Buns, Sliced Tomatoes, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Quinoa, White Rice, Steamed Spinach, Salad, Peanut Butter Cookies|
|Day 10 – Teatime||Light Miso Soup or Hummus & Veggie Sticks, Rice Cakes and Bread, Fresh Fruit|