Vipasana course gaining popularity in Minnesota

India Post, Dec 21, 2008

FARIBAULT, MN (USA) -- Vipassana of Minnesota held a course at Holy Spirit Retreat Center from Nov 26 to Dec 7. About 15 students participated in the course. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area is home to one of the oldest communities of Vipassana mediators in North America.

At least one ten-day course has been conducted in Minnesota each year since 1986. Every Sunday evening a group of local meditators gathers in St. Paul and meditate together for one hour, enjoying an opportunity to reinforce their daily meditation and socialize with fellow members.

Given the length, strict timetable, discipline and funding restrictions of the introductory courses, the recent surge in popularity is a testament to the benefits that people feel they are getting from meditation.

The introductory course is ten days long, not including the arrival and departure days, so a potential student must commit nearly two weeks of his or her life to learning the technique. When they sign up for a course, they agree to follow a strict timetable that begins at 4:30 in the morning and ends at 9 pm.

There are many breaks throughout the day and an instructional discourse in the evening, but the bulk of the day is spent in silent meditation.

There are no fees for the course, and none of the volunteers or teachers receives any payment. Costs for food and the facility are paid for entirely by donations.