Why is the course 7 days long?
Actually, the seven-day course is the minimum; it provides an essential introduction and foundation to the technique. To develop in the practice is a lifetime job. Experience over past has shown that is taught in periods of less than 7 days, the student does not get a sufficient experiential grasp of the technique. Traditionally, retreat courses was taught in retreats lasting seven weeks. With the dawning of the 20th century, the teachers of this tradition began to experiment with shorter times to suit the quickening pace of life. and they found that less than 7 days is not enough time for the mind to settle down and work deeply with the mind-body phenomenon.
How many hours a day will I be meditating?
The day begins at 4:00 a.m. with a wakeup bell and continues until 9:00 p.m. There are about ten hours of meditation throughout the day, interspersed with regular breaks and rest periods.
What language is used in the course?
The teaching is given speaking in English or Hindi, together with a translation into a local language. Tape translations exist in most of the major languages of the world, including English. If the teachers conducting a course do not speak the local language fluently, interpreters will be there to help. Language is usually no barrier for someone who wants to join a course.
I can't sit cross legged. Can I meditate?
Certainly. Chairs are provided for those unable to sit comfortably on the floor because of age or a physical problem.
I'm on a special diet. Can I bring my own food?
If your doctor has prescribed a special diet, let us know and we will see whether we can provide what you need. If the diet is too specialized or would interfere with meditation, we might have to ask you to wait until you can be more flexible. We're sorry but students are required to choose from the food provided to them, rather than bring food for themselves. Most people find the choice is ample and they enjoy the simple vegetarian diet.
Can pregnant women attend courses? Are there any special arrangements or instructions for them?
Pregnant women may certainly attend, and many women come specifically during pregnancy to take advantage of the opportunity to work deeply and in silence during this special time. We ask pregnant women to ensure they are confident that their pregnancy is stable before applying. We provide the extra food they need and ask them to work in a relaxed way.
Why is a course conducted in silence?
All students attending the course observe "noble silence" — that is, silence of body, speech and mind. They agree to refrain from communicating with their co-meditators. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs, and to speak with the instructor. Silence is observed for the first nine full days. On the tenth day, speech is resumed as a way of re-establishing the normal pattern of daily life. Continuity of practice is the secret of success in this course; silence is an essential component in maintaining this continuity.
How can I be sure I am capable of doing the meditation?
For a person in reasonable physical and mental health who is genuinely interested and willing to make a sincere effort, meditation (including "noble silence") is not difficult. If you are able to follow the instructions patiently and diligently, you can be sure of tangible results. Though it may appear daunting, the day's schedule is neither too severe nor too relaxed. Moreover, the presence of other students practicing conscientiously in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere lends tremendous support to one's efforts.
Is there anyone who should not participate in a course?
Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval. Through a process of questions and answers, we will be able to help you decide clearly beforehand whether you are in a position to benefit fully from a course. In some cases applicants are asked to get approval from their doctor before they can be accepted.