Goenka Meditation

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I clearly remember the first time I heard about Goenka. It was in 2001, at a Buddhist monastery in England. I was there to practice meditation and a woman who was preparing to become a nun, was a devoted Goenka follower.

Goenka was a highly respected meditation teacher all around the world. He founded over 50 meditation centers in India and many international centers as well. Goenka was born in Burma to Indian parents and became a successful businessman. He struggled with migraines for years and had appointments with several internationally renowned specialists to no avail. Finally, he tried meditation in hope it would put an end to the suffering, and it did.

S.N. Goenka studied vipassana meditation under Sayagyi U Ba Khin and quickly became a skilled meditator. Later on, he relocated to India and started to teach the kind of vipassana meditation he had learned from his teacher.

Goenka meditation is a type of vipassana, which focuses on awareness of the mind and the senses. As you may already know, vipassana is a Buddhist form of insight meditation. The Goenka centers also teach loving-kindness meditation.

Goenka Meditation Centers

The Goenka centers don't charge for their teachings, accommodation and food. Buddhists believe it should be offered for free. It's possible to make a donation though, to help cover the running costs of the meditation centers.

S.N. Goenka trained hundreds of assistant meditation teachers over the years. He also established a vipassana research center in India. One of its main objectives is to develop ways to incorporate Goenka meditation into daily life.

Goenka Retreats

Goenka meditation retreats are characterized by their Buddhist forms and strict discipline. The meditators are asked to observe noble silence, which is a Buddhist concept. The idea is that it's helpful to refrain from unnecessary conversation during meditation retreats. As a result, the mind calms down.

The one exception to the rule, is that you can speak to your meditation teacher.

The discipline at Goenka retreats is quite strict. Meditators are asked to sometimes meditate for hours without changing body postures. The facilitators also ask the meditators not to stretch or do any yoga exercises during the breaks, which is an effective way of relieving stiffness and physical pain.

Goenka Meditation Techniques

The meditation techniques focus on awareness of bodily sensations. One could say that Goenka meditation is a form of body scanning. The meditators are encouraged to give relaxed attention to bodily sensations, at all times.

Throughout the meditation retreat meditators watch Goenka videos or listen to his talks, where he outlines the meditation techniques in detail and inspires the retreatants to practice well. I found the videos most educational and uplifting.

Goenka's approach to meditation is powerful and direct. He stresses that awareness purifies the mind and is the key to lasting happiness and wellbeing.

Moreover, the vegetarian food at Goenka retreats is of high quality, as well as the facilities. The Goenka centers are staffed by volunteers and well managed.

I recommend Goenka meditation to anyone who is genuinely interested in developing their meditation skills.

No matter what school of meditation you choose, it will still take a measure of discipline and consistent practice to develop your meditation practice.

Finally, it's somewhat rare that meditation centers offer all of their services free of charge, which is an indication that they have good intentions.

Let me know how your Goenka meditation is coming along...

Best of luck!

Related:   Goenka Retreat Review   Insight Meditation   Mahasi Retreat Review

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