This course is intended as a preparation course for students who have or will consider completing a 10-day meditation retreat in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. These secular retreats can be completed in more than 90 countries worldwide (still counting) and do not require any prior meditation experience, academic background, or training of any kind. Besides being highly accessible these unique retreats are as well free of cost and authentic to Buddhist standards.
This course is also intended for people who have already completed the 10-day retreat and wish to refresh their understanding of the meditation techniques. Completing this course is thus as much a preparatory step to take before registering for a retreat as a stepping stone to support you in establishing a daily practice of meditation in your life. All in all, the only prerequisite to this course is to be convinced that meditation could be beneficial to you.
The perspective adopted by this course sees meditation as a training of the mind. Sitting and carrying out a meditation task on a daily basis is nothing more than a training of one's mind and of the underlying neural networks and overall physiological basis. As such meditating involves developing a stable attention and a sensitive mind, the two utmost characteristics of a mindful person. The first exercise (Anapana meditation) taught in this course and at the meditation retreat is aimed at this.
The second main perspective conveyed by this course presents Vipassana meditation as a way to undo one's conditioning from the past. Whether we want to be happier, more compassionate and present, or more productive and focused, we need to set ourselves free from the impact traumas and past events have had on us and how these had us so far behave the way we have. So is the purpose of the second exercise (Vipassana meditation): to carry out a careful examination of one's own body in such a way as to let go of the imprint left on us by past events.
This course is a condensed version of the teachings received during the 10-day meditation retreat. It leaves aside lengthy comments about spirituality, philosophy, Buddhism, the cultural background to this tradition, the benefits of meditation practice, etc. These are left for you to learn during the retreat or to research on your own. The focus of this course is rather placed on the instruction of the meditation techniques, explanations for why their regular practice may have an impact on your life, and the overall structure and organisation of a 10-day Vipassana retreat.