The term 'Vipassana' literally means "to see things as they really are". Vipassana is regarded as a type of Buddhist meditation technique, through which a person stills the mind and achieves a sort of equanimity and composure. It is said that Lord Gautama Buddha, Himself, made use of this meditation technique. The technique of Vipassana is 'to watch your breath with awareness'. In Vipassana, a person is just required to be aware of his breathing and not try to control it.
The first Vipassana meditation center in India, for teaching the technique, was set up at Igatpuri by S.N. Goenka. The center was given the name of 'Dhamma Giri: Hill of Dhamma'. Today, it is known as Vipassana International Academy and has the distinction of being the principle center of Vipassana meditation in the world.
Students from various parts of India as well as abroad come to the academy and attend its courses. Vipassana Research Institute (VRI) stands adjoining the academy. It was set up in 1985 to carry out research into Vipassana meditation.
The first course at Vipassana International Academy was held in October 1976. Since that year, the number of courses offered at the academy has grown year by year.
The ten-day course is the main course offered at the Vipassana Meditation Center of Igatpuri. They are taught by Goenkaji himself.
This courser is only for those students who have completed a ten-day course with Goenkaji or any of his assistants.
Satipatthana course is for those students who have completed at least 3 ten-day course and have practiced regularly for the past one year.
For this course, a student must have completed at least 5 ten-day courses and 1 Satipatthana course and practiced daily, for the past two years.
For this course, a student must have completed at least 1 twenty-day course and participated in a full-time Dhamma service in at least one 10-day course.
This course is for those who have completed one long course or are qualified for long course since the last five years.
S.N. Goenka was taught Vipassana by a Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. In order to fulfill the wish of his Guru, he set up a Vipassana Meditation Center at Igatpuri.
The ten-day residential course for learning Vipassana can be undertaken by any individual, regardless of the caste, religion, economic background, etc. You will be required to practice 10 hours of meditation and maintain complete silence. Complete abstinence from actions like killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and the use of intoxicants is to be maintained. Along with that, the first three and a half days, you will have to practice anapana meditation, which means focusing attention on the natural breath. The next six and half days will be spent in practicing Vipassana.
The nearest airport is at Nashik city. It is well connected with most of the key cities in India.
The railway station at Igatpuri is serviced by a limited number of trains. You can also catch a train from the Nashik railway station.
Direct bus services are available to both Nashik as well as Mumbai. You can also hire a taxi for the purpose.