Maggie meditating
Home Stress Reduction and Lifestyle Change for CancerMindfulness Vipassana: A 10-day silent meditation retreat

Vipassana: A 10-day silent meditation retreat

by Maggie Jones

Tomorrow I leave for a 10-day Vipassana retreat. Ten days without internet, cell phone, or even a pen.

These will be my accomodations. I’ll bring my own sheets and pillow, of course. And my own toilet paper.

Dormitory, Dhamma Mutta, Tung Wan, Lantau Island
courtesy of

I’ll eat every meal, two per day served morning and mid-day, in this dining hall.

Vipassana dining hall
Food Hall, Dhamma Mutta, Tung Wan, Lantau Island
courtesy of

I’ll spend over ten hours each day meditating in this hall.

Meditation Hall, Dhamma Mutta, Tung Wan, Lantau Island
courtesy of

During these ten days I’ll observe “noble silence” meaning that, in addition to not speaking, I won’t communicate in any way including body language or facial expression, except during the designated times when I can approach my teacher with questions.

This will be my schedule each day:

Daily Vipassana Schedule

4:00 amMorning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 amMeditate – In the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 amBreakfast break
8:00-9:00 amMeditate – In the hall
9:00-11:00 amMeditate – In the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noonLunch break
12 noon-1:00 pmRest and interviews with the teacher – speaking permitted to ask questions
1:00-2:30 pmMeditate – In the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pmMeditate – In the hall
3:30-5:00 pmMeditate – In the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pmTea break
6:00-7:00 pmMeditate – In the hall
7:00-8:15 pmTeacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pmMeditate – In the hall
9:00-9:30 pmQuestion time in the hall – speaking permitted to ask questions
9:30 pmLights out

I will have to give up my phone on entry and, even worse, my yoga practice. I’ll hand over control of my food. Fasting and outside food are not permitted but the simple, vegetarian meals prepared by volunteers should include some foods I can eat.

I did some special shopping to find clothes that fit the dress code: loose, covering the ankles, quiet. That translates to three pairs of pajama pants which I’ll be able to wash in the sink during breaks.

It sounds a little like I’m joining a cult, right?

I promise, I’m not joining a cult.

The Dhamma Compound. Dhamma Mutta, Tung Wan, Lantau Island
courtesy of
Not home to a cult.

Why I’m practicing Vipassana

It wasn’t long after I was diagnosed that I learned about Vipassana for the first time. It is actually mentioned in Radical Remissions, the book I read the weekend after my diagnosis, but it’s only referred to there as a “10-day silent meditation retreat.” After that, however, mentions of Vipassana seemed to crop up everywhere in my research and even in non-cancer-related conversations. Coincidences piled on and became what I believed to be synchronicity.

I put in my application over the summer and was thrilled to get a spot in the November retreat just two hours away on Lantau Island.

Maggie meditating
My Vipassana retreat won’t look like this. Also, my beliefs skew more Buddhist than Hindu.

What I hope to get out of it

Vipassana teaches that everything is temporary. It’s been shown to be very beneficial for pain management and it seems obvious that it would be comforting/ preparatory for those facing their mortality. Most important to me, however, are anecdotal reports that, after 10 days spent focused on awareness of the breath and body, many participants feel incredibly in touch with their bodies right down to feeling individual veins and arteries. I’m not hoping for those kind of super powers but I’ve been savoring my increasing awareness of… myself? my mind-body-emotional matrix? Brad gives me a hard time when I call it my Qi. Whatever it is, it’s been magical and I can’t get enough. We’ll see if vipassana can feed the beast.

See you the week of November 18!

You may also like


Dave November 17, 2019 - 2:03 pm

Hope it’s beneficial! Hard to imagine hours at a time with no communication or expression.

Annie December 10, 2019 - 3:57 pm

I’ve sat many Vipassana courses over the years. They each have been magical in one way or another and they have all been hard work. The best kinda work that happens when you spend that much time undistracted from the outside world and learning about your self and your monkey mind!
I believe it’s a gift everyone should give themselves at least once in their lifetime…Anicca!

Mary Guthrie August 3, 2021 - 9:42 am

There are a number of retreats that provide different modules, each that provide their own set of benefits and are quite useful for people with different requirements. These retreats are able to generate a large amount of positive energy that can help in improving the spiritual growth of an individual. Meditation retreats are usually located in areas that are far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life so it offers an individual the perfect environment to go within themselves and find it easier to be able to connect with their inner being.

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More