It’s been a very a long time since we’ve posted a blog, but this freediving workshop really deserves a blog.
It’s something special, a very unique mix of cutting edge apnea research, tailored coaching, freediving focused yoga and meditation, all in beautiful Amed, Bali. This course is aimed at freedivers with an understanding of the basics of Freediving Physiology and Physics, with a desire to deepen and expand perspectives, seeing where the latest research in apnea is taking us.
Frederic Lemaitre will be our guide for most of the daily coaching and freediving workshops. He’s one of the worlds leading experts on freediving science and is at the forefront of apnea research. Frederic is also a top freediving coach, working with the first generation of the 1990s French elite up to today, with the likes of Guillaume Nery.
Each day is a mix of freediving, workshops, yoga and meditation workshops with the focus very much on deepening knowledge and changing perspectives.
The first days stretching will be whole body basic stretching;
Freediving will be focused on safety protocol as developed in his research with AIDA and Free immersion diving
The first days topic will be on advanced freediving physiology where
Frederic Lemaitre will be drawing on the insights gained from over 2
decades as a top apnea researcher. Related to this topic he’ll draw from over 40 different papers published between 2000 and 2017.
The most recent paper was in 2015 comparing the trigeminocardiac reflex
(TCR) with the Mammalian dive response.
Like all the workshops there will be an opportunity to for questions and answers with Frederic.
In the evening there will be a workshop on equalization for freedivers,
focusing on the various techniques available to freedivers, frenzel,
forms of mouthfill etc.
In the morning we’ll have some basic stretching and a yoga sequence
designed for freedivers.
The Freediving training will focus on various exercises for
equalization and free immersion diving. The theory workshop will focus on ‘effects of freedive training’ drawing
on research from at least 8 separate papers by Frederic, from the
effects of apnea training on swimming co-ordination to the effects of packing, with a general review on freediving physiology.
The evening session will focus on 2 categories of meditation-
concentration and mindfulness
There will be some theory and some reference to the science behind these
practices, as well an an introduction to one or two practices in each
We’ll also look at how these practices can affect our freediving training.
Breathing and stretching
The morning stretching session will focus on the primary and secondary
CWT and FI
Principles of freedive training;
This wokshop will focus on training principles and primarily reference three papers, including one that deals with free diver training as a complement to other athletic training.
Meditation workshop- contemplation and creative visualization;
This workshop will investigate 2 other categories of meditation in regards to freediving.
The first will use the power of the rational mind to create break throughs and insight. The visualization practices will focus on harnessing the innate creative power of the mind.
Freediving risks, blackout, decompression sickness, squeeze.
This is one of the most fascinating workshops as it draws on very interesting new research and introduces solid science based protocols for Decompression sickness, Blackouts and Squeeze. Frederic is one the people writing the guidelines for what is safe in freediving, based on science and not speculation. He is one of the lucky few who has done extensive research with the Ama divers of Japan.
Meditation- this final day will look at slightly more esoteric aspects of meditation, most specifically heart based practices.
Homo Delphinus- comparative physiology.
A comparison between marine mammals and human mammals.
In this workshop Frederic explores what apnea training and apnea research can tell us about the human being and ways it can be used toimprove our development.
To make this accessible to poor freediving instructors we are offering the full 5 days training and workshops $400
Here’s some feedback from students in 2014 up until we got too busy to put the feedback onto the computer 🙂 A big thanks to all our students who make teaching freediving such a rewarding job.
This course is perfect for a terrified beginner. I was talked through each dive until the very end. As someone who has spent my whole life on land I really appreciate have 2 instructors that were so patient, informative and helpful. Overall I was really surprised at what I was able to do while taking baby steps. My biggest reminder from freediving is that the mind will tell you ‘no’ over and over again, when really the answer could be ‘Yes’. Thank you!!
I spent 2 awesome days with great people. I reckon the structure of the course is perfect, nice and relaxed theory in a relaxed environment and then good session in the water, plenty of time for questions, gearing up and great logistics. I really had a good time. Thanks guys.
I was very impressed with the program- especially Matthew’s kind patience and encouragement. I loved how it focused on confidence building- not an end goal. I also loved the yoga emphasis- it translated perfectly for me (philosophy). thank you!!!
I had a wonderful time. I had zero background with freediving and this course was really engaging. I, at all times, felt safe. Thank you for this experience, I really like what you do, and the way you do it. I get the feeling I’ll be searching for an opportunity to do this again (and again) in the future. Thanks for giving me a new way to appreciate and enjoy being in the water.
Good technique and training. Seriously.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first freediving experience. The staff create a very relaxed environment while giving you the necessary teachings to dive properly. I surprisingly met my goal easily thanks to the chilled out mantra approach.
Great course!! Loved it!
I’ve enjoyed experiencing freediving. The course was very informative on the basics (both theory and practise). Hope to continue 🙂 Thank you!
Loved it! Breathing relaxation really worked to make me feel more confident and comfortable. Interesting theory- not too much. Like the idea of yoga/freedive/flow and being fluid in the water. Shit conditions but was still great fun and not too off putting. Hopefully you put the fear into James so he doesn’t keep pushing and scaring me to death!
Learned a lot! Safer! Look forward to practicing and perfecting skills learned. Level of detail just right for our experience level. Still got a lot out of the course even though we were already good freedivers.
James Skilbeck Nelson
Great course! Loved the mix of theory and practice in the ocean. The visualization techniques beforehand really helped. I was most put at ease by knowing my breath hold time and when the first urge hit and how much [air] left I had after that. Would love to do it again with some calm waters!
I had a great experience. After spearfishing for almost 15 years, I was able to learn the physiology behind breathhold and deep dives. I added 10 meters to my previous deepest dives, learned safety & rescue techniques that I never knew but always wanted to. I’d highly recommend this course to anyone, especially surfers and spearfisher….
It was very informative for an experienced freediver and spearfisher like myself. I learnt loads of details about physics and proper techniques that could really save my life and others in a bad situation. I now would like to continue on to the advanced level.
Very useful information, plus it was good that the teachers had different approaches for different people. Would love to do some diving with better weather, fish could be distracting for the breathholding 🙂
Good learning about the science of breathing and how it applies to freediving. Good application in the other aspects such as mediation training and stress management. Liked yoga routine and the focus on relaxation.
Very interesting and informative. Enjoyed it very much and it felt very safe and on our own terms when we were in the water.
Great dive instructors, it always felt safe. Good work on both body and mind. Nothing to add to the course 😀
I cannot think of anything negative: it was a real great experience! The place was really good, the instructors were very good (thank you Daniel and Matthias!) and everything was organized in a nice atmosphere.
My experience in Apneista, Jemeluk, Amed, Bali: I got a really nice feeling staying with you. I did this course to experience proper & secure freediving techniques, as I practice for fun for many years. Matthias was really nice, friendly and most important of all: careful!! As an instructor (diveing & surfing) I’m used to taking care of people and I really liked to feel really safe. I will definitely come back next year and go for Level 2. The center is small but convenient and peaceful. The team, Indo & buleh, are really friendly and efficient.
Such a wonderful experience! I learn a lot about myself. A lot of amazing feelings about my body and my mind. Am originally use of yoga tricks and breathing exercises to exceed my own limits. Thanks to the Apneista team and master of disaster Daniel!
Awesome energy- Good class, great theory. Conditions were intense- boat was crucial after heavy rain- visibility and comfort in water were essentially hand in hand.
William G. Lee
FROM EMAIL: You guys were the best.
When people ask me what was the highlight of my 10 days in Bali, and I tell them, they roll their eyes.
After we left Bali we went to Kri Eco Resort in West Papua, and had the time of our lives. Vishaka was more comfortable in the water, and had more fun diving than ever before. She was routinely on the bottom, at 10-15 meters, checking out reefs. She has always stayed up at the surface and watched me in the past. Her feeling more free in the water allowed me to stay out longer and dive more myself.
I owe it all to you.
As we say in Hawai’i: Mahalo Nui Loa! (Michael Click)
I thought I knew what was coming. I was wrong- challenging, beautiful, tough, frustrating, delightful, well run, chilled. Enjoyed the theory- always good to learn. Overall a really unique experience in another world. Boss!
Oliver Green (ninja)
Great course & pacing. Day 1- good theory- not too long & kept us interested. First dive- went well. Like 2 buoys. Day 2- good morning info. Afternoon dive really good. Awesome!
Robin Connelley (ninja)
Good pacing- very much like th positive demeanor/attitude. Prefer the double buoys.
John Stanton (ninja)
Really enjoyed it. Even though it was toally exhausting. Loved how it has made overcome my fear of the deep- well almost!
Completely unique experience- liked being taken out of my comfort zone & learning about myself. Great coaching- nice & calm.
Liberty Green (ninja)
Very technical and challenging course. Learned a hell of useful info on physiology & psychology. Instructions both in class and in water was both helpful for theory & practice. Felt safe the entire course but still felt challenged. Instructors recommended corrections advice tailored to you. Great, friendly, and personable staff. Thank you for sharing freediving experience.
Kyong Pak (ninja)
I learn a lot in just 2 days. Very happy I hit 20 meters. Planning for further training.
Good individual training in water. nice, relaxed – no pressure, I like it.
Obviously, it is a great course.I had no expectations of what I might be able to do but I was very pleased with how it went. Matthew is a great teacher. Very responsible and reassuring in the water and personalised encouragement for each person. It was good 🙂
Really sweet, such a nice vibe, at the cafe, in teaching on land and water. Feels very professional. Spot on. Thanks a lot for great guidance and teachings. All the best to you guys =)
Sandro Lindquist Garcia
I really enjoyed the course. I found a good ratio of theory and practice. Teachers were very good and were able to keep us calm. I did much more than I thought I could do. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Very good, very professional delivery & instruction. Theory was very in-depth; technical + graspable. Very calm in water instruction set students at ease.
Good course. I never believed that I could really freedive to 16m. These 2 days were well spent.
It was a very well conducted course: interactive, small group, lots of practice, and dynamic. Results are there; I managed to reach a depth of 14m, and feel very comfortable in the (and under) the water. I have learned a new skill that hopefully I can put into practice often and continue learning with such good teachers. Thanks!
Course is an excellent balance of theory and practical. Matthew was always very encouraging and also able to suggest alternative techniques for divers with sticky ears!
Peta Danielle Knott
Had a great time and learnt a heap. Matt is a great teacher and really helped me get going.
Dear Scatty Matty, Terima Kasih banyak! Muinteori go’halcann! Brilliant course. Really really enjoyed it. Lots of “lols” haha. Having done it now it doesn’t seem as impossible as it might have before. It was a great intro to freediving. I’d been really keen now to train more and maybe do more courses in the future.What else can I say! It’s a magical thing- maybe that’s why all you loolaas are so mad into it!! Thanks Matt.
The course was really good. I wasn’t so sure at the beginning but in the end i really enjoyed it. Theory and practice part were clear and well taught. I for sure was glad I made it and will use the techniques for my snorkeling.
3 days course starting in a wonderful place, Tirta Gangga and finishing by a fun dive on the Liberty Wreck! The training emphasizes safety.
Florent Sene (Advanced Student)
24 March 2014
Very good course. the location of the school, approach, and instruction nothing to complain about. The yoga course in the evening was good too.
Takashi Nakagawa (Advanced Student)
I really like the theoretical/physiology part. Nice explanations by our instructor Matthias! Well structured and good teaching. The water sessions were amazing. I really could feel how I got more comfortable after some dives. Again, nice explanations from our instructor. All in all a very good course.
Much more than expected, technical and insightful discoveries. Loads of material in short time, very good and selected teachings, friendly environment. Great approach through meditation etc. Very well spent money.
Great. Austrian guy [Matthias] is Great.
Great course! Highly professional trainers. Instruction before going into the water was very helpful. I enjoyed the combination of physics, yoga and diving! The course was well designed to help participants feel prepared before going into the water. I learned a lot and look forward to applying it in the future. Also I was impressed how well the instruction was tailored to each student.
Loved the course! I was nervous going in because of my challenges with breath (asthma) but the instruction was so clear & I was able to go at my own pace. I learned a lot during the philosophy & felt really comfortable going into the water. Great experience all around! I’ll be back =)
I really appreciated the fact that the course is designed to adjust to each person’s abilities & comfort levels, while also encouraging personal progress. I took this course to attempt to face my strong water anxieties. It was really helpful and I am coming away feeling incredibly proud of the achievements I made. Everyone at Apneista was great at calmly encouraging that progress for me.
Very scientific with a depth and theory and assurance of practice. Ration and irrational bodily reactions were discussed in detail. The course was above and beyond what was required for the introductory course and provided good value for money.
All the staff are incredibly positive and supportive.
Fantastic! Lots of time in the water and instructors were really friendly and encouraging. I achieved much more than I thought I would. Thank you! 🙂
It was a good course with lots of time in the water and great instruction. I would recommend this course to friends as long as they are comfortable equalizing.
Alexander Feldman (sasha)
Thank you. The tuition was great- well paced and bespoke. A great place to start freediving.
Nothing to say that would not sound flattering! I felt that everything was very safe, professional, and useful. Thanks and keep with the good job!
Material well covered, well presented, instructor good level of knowledge, relevant materials, practical course-work great. Felt very comfortable within the structure of the course.
Was very informative and entertaining. It was interesting to learn that humming breathing aids blocked sinuses and ears. Lots of other stuff I enjoyed. Matthias is an awesome coach, just looking up at him, made me relaxed.
Perfect situation. I really appreciate that you did the course 1:1! Nice place (school and bay). Good, clear, calm teaching, theory & practice.
Very good impression: interesting theory, very good teacher, & practice also very good. Impressive to see progress in 2 days.
The course is beyond expectations! Our trainer Matthias was born to be a diving teacher (the same way as Michael was born a fish). But actually all people here, in Apneista, are super shanti. It helps a lot!
Excellent teacher (Matthias). He is super shanti, peaceful, knowledgeable and helpful. Great intro course. Great theory, to the point. Excellent integration of yoga, visualization was very nice. Nice environment, thanks for the drinks and popcorn. Flexible and easy. Thank you!
Flawless. Absolutely a life-changing experience. Going to water is never going to be the same. The instructors, the lectures and the diving were very professional. Thus making me feel always comfortable and safe. Had a lot of fun!!! Looking forward to taking the next course here.
Very informative in all respects. Instruction was very straightforward and very personal. All questions were answered in a kindly and informative manner. The practical diving sessions were very exciting and I made good progress. Thank you.
I learned how to feel well under water which was a neat step for me. Very good teaching, building trust and confidence. I had fun. Thanks!
Great experience, great feelings. Feel more comfortable in water and more sure of my body. Great way to meditate, disconnect from the mind, not wasting energy physically and mentally. Thank you for the those great moments! And the staff is really friendly & relaxed 🙂
Awesome stuff! Great teaching of theory and practical skills. Made me feel comfortable & safe at all times. Matthias was an awesome instructor. I’ll be back.
Great training, always felt safe. Matthew did well in building up our confidence and in explaining everything well and making sure everyone understands. Thanks for the great course!
George (Bobby) Boshoff
Really enjoyed it. Much more comfortable in the water. The theory was very insightful, learned a lot. Thank you Matthew! When diving, Matthew always made me feel at ease, no rushing. Had a great time.
Honestly? Just AMAZING!!! I learned a lot and enjoyed such a detailed theoretical part. I felt safe in the water, and was surprised at how rapidly we all progressed. This course is a credit to our teachers and to Apneista, best freediving school and one our best experiences in Bali! Thank you.
The course was my best experience in Bali and for many months! I liked the theory which was very complete and entertaining, the relaxing part was great and in the water I had such fun. Everything was great, well organized! Keep going this way! Everybody is so nice in Apneista, this is a real pleasure! Good vibes! Thanks again!
The course was really awesome. I got a completely new experience and feel myself in the water more confident. I pushed my limits and now feel more comfortable in the deep. Wish to continue my studies later. Also got a lot of nice feelings and emotions while freediving.
Hot tub, definitely need a hot tub =) Aside from that, the training was clear and I felt safe the entire time. Instructors were great and the underwater photos a bonus! Thank you. xo
Jamie Leigh Chan
It was a great experience in which I discovered new sensations. I understand that it can be so addictive! Maybe., see you soon for level 2! Thanks a lot to Kwab and Raffaele.
Great experience! Good to feel improvement in just 2 days, very good instructor (Matthias). Very calm, patient, made me feel safe. Thank you!!!
The course was very interesting and a completely different experience from scuba, which I enjoyed. I thought Matthias’ approach was perfect for the discipline and would definitely recommend him and the centre.
Very rewarding experience! Loved the course. Very relaxed and understanding teacher! Thanks Matthias! Also could see a lot of improvement in such a short time. It was possible to develop at your own pace.
Great fun! Thank you so much! Fun instructors 🙂
The best thing that happened to me in the last 6 months! Excellent, great, perfect, relaxing, excellent safety. One of the best experiences of my life! Thank you everybody! I will be back!
Definitely more challenging than level 1. Still great training in a beautiful location with the best cafe in Amed. Day 3 was my favorite day as it gave me an opportunity to just focus on my foundational technique and relaxation/visualization.
Super nice experience! Matthew is a really good teacher. Good at encouraging and teaching. I feel much more comfortable in the sea now.
Amazing 2 days. Theory & practical sessions were profound and though I know I got a lot to practice on my equalization, I have definitely got loads of progress in it. The course has been really fun and the whole crew is lovely 🙂
I really enjoyed the course, the positive energy and the calming exercises helped me overcome the fear I felt in the beginning. So I could really just enjoy the experience and feeling of comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. I would recommend it to everyone. 🙂
Good course, totally felt the progress. Way more confident. all good! Good work!
The course was well-structured and the right balance between theory and practice. Matthew was a good teacher and made me feel safe at all times. I was surprised how much I achieved and enjoyed what I did. I will definitely freedive again. Thanks!
Course was very good- detailed information particularly the physiology which helps to relax when you understand the science. Matt was great in the water- very reassuring and gave good corrections, always made me feel comfortable & confident. Overall great course and definitely want to do more.
I really liked it! Matthew is a great teacher. I’ve grabbed a lot of knowledge, I did 19 meters & became more comfortable in the water. I’m definitely promote Apneista in my network, so prepare yourself for more Russian students! 🙂
Anna “Zap” Fimina
Great course, I learnt a lot about breathing techniques and safety. Great venue. Yoga was something different I enjoyed.
Solid foundation with emphasis on theory, safety and mental aspects of freediving. Focus on enjoyable sustainable development. Nothing is rushed but as a result of this development of skills and confidence benefits greatly. Have enjoyed course greatly and have achieved more than I expected. Lots of smiles one everyone’s faces including mine.
The course was great, loved every second of it. It was well priced and extremely comprehensive. I felt safe at all times. All the instructors are very friendly and professional. The cafe connected to the shop is also a cool place to hangout and it has an awesome menu. The meditation aspects of the course were also very interesting.
The course was great fun and very safe. I was able to achieve all the goals I set out to achieve- my desired depth, breathhold and level of comfort. The meditation and breathing techniques were very helpful for me, and it was extremely satisfying to learn in great depth what was going on inside my body while diving. The information taught was extremely comprehensive. Excellent, very professional company.
Great course. Enjoyed going to the old pool [Tirta Ganga]. It was great to challenge myself and I surprised myself with what I was able to do. That feeling of accomplishment is invaluable. Then to take my new skills in practice at the Liberty Wreck was a good way to finish.
Great course, Love the staff!! Feels like family here!
Very pedagogic and much attention to personal development. Good mix of theory and practice. The setting of water palace [Tirta Ganga] and Tulamben [Liberty Wreck] really made it great. The level 2 gives more time to really develop comfort and technique. Strong engagement from both instructors. Great experience!
I loved it! So nice to overcome your boundaries and learn new things. Raf is great. His calm nature makes the course super enjoyable. All in all an awesome experience. I’d gladly recommend to anyone.
I thought the whole setup including staff are mega helpful. Most of all the teaching approach and Raff’s warm, knowledgeable teaching method was super awesome. The skill I learnt I feel I will use for the res of my life. I would love to come back and learn level 2 with Raff. Btw, ask him to say ‘DIARY’ 🙂
Kwab is a 5* instructor and the group was great which made this underwater experience very special. It was a natural re-cap and progression from previous training which deepened my comfort in the water and with my own body and mind. So much more to say and the best suggestion I can give to others is- to try it- it’s absolutely worth it and unique. Thank you!
Excellent instructor. Surpassed expectations. Perfect balance of practical and theory.
I came here with no expectations. Amazing to discover what your body is capable of. The theory was really useful. During the dives I felt safe which was really nice. The setup of the course is good. Thanks a lot!
Well! Honestly you almost saved my life! I learned a lot of rescue & safety details. My interpretation of freediving/spearfishing is really more calm & safer than before. I’ll come back for level 2 in October!!
Really amazing course! Learned a lot on technique & theory and had fantastic opportunities to put them into practice. Also important were the theory & practice of safety- including proper preparations & recovery for diving, being an effective safety diver, etc. The location @ Apneista was great and diving the USS Liberty was fantastic & Tirta Gangga was unforgettable! This was really the best three days I’ve had in a long time! Thanks!
This was a fantastic course. Unfortunately I had equalization issues diving head first so couldn’t complete. Raf, however, was incredibly supportive & helpful. He is the best instructor I have had (freedive & scuba) and made my first experience of free diving into something I will continue to do. Thanks Raf.
Excellent course. Good content and Raf was a legend. Tailored the course to suit the needs and concentrate on individual weaknesses of the class participants. Highly recommended. Cheers Raf.
The instructor made me very confident and relaxed. So I managed to dive very deep without realizing and really enjoyed the dive. The most important this I’ve learned is that I can do amazing things when I get to relax.
Great experience, feel confident with the instructor in the water. I’m happy to know techniques in th ewater and stay relaxed. Happy to discover yoga. After 20m in 2 days it’s cool! I want to do it again!
It was a nice two days. I really get what I was looking for and even more. I enjoy the theoretic part, It’ scool to have an understanding on how it works. And the yoga and stretching part was really interesting. I think I will use some in the future. Thanks it was all great.
Amazing mate. Thanks. Really really appreciated your authenticity and genuine love of teaching. Also loved the holistic approach- science; spiritual/mental; physical aspects.
As you say breathing is the one thing we can’t go without…enjoyed challenging that part of me…being uncomfortable but safe too. Far exceeded my own expectations of myself.
Course was excellent. I’d recommend it to anyone. Matthew is an excellent instructor leader with a strong knowledge base in multi-disciplinary fields to support freediving. James and Patrick were fantastic with supporting instructors, with calm, clear and warm help.
Best Course ever. It was fun, the instructor had great way to explain equalization methods.
Awesome course! You’re incredibly knowledgeable about freediving which made it a great experience. Pat and Jim were awesome as well.
Excellent course! The preparation for the first dives was very thorough, so that I felt extremely relaxed. I especially like the combination of breathing/visualization techniques and freediving. Matthew was an awesome instructor who created a relaxed and positive atmosphere. Thank you Matthew!
‘When the doors of perception are cleansed man shall see things as they truly are, infinite’ William Blake
Why learn Vipassanna ?
In the past month 2 more of our freediving instructors have challenged themselves with the practice of Vipassana. There are different approaches to vipassana, both of them enrolled for the SN Goenka course, a particularly full on and difficult introduction.
Both of our instructors are pretty adventurous people; but what follows it is an explanation of why a ‘normal’ person might subject himself to a vipassana course.
Lets start with looking at two Buddhist practices, Mindfulness and Vipassana. Aside from Tantric Buddhism, elements of both are a part of most streams of buddhism, yet they are not religous rite or ritual.
Being in the now; mindfulness is concentrated awareness of the moment to moment.
It is a process of constant redirection of the attention, bringing awareness repeatedly back to the present moment.
We become aware of what we are thinking, feeling or doing or become aware of how mind perceives and experiences the world around us.
It is cultivation of the silent witness, acknowledgement of the present moment without judgement, letting go as the present moment changes. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Indeed it should be practised as much as possible. It requires little formal instruction but takes a lifetime to master.
Through mindfulness we become less of a slave to unconscious processes and patterns of behaviour. It can positively affect everything from motor skills to deep seated psychological issues. It is also the beginning of single pointed concentration, which is necessary for the development of insight meditation (Vipassana).
Normally practice starts with single pointed focus on the breath in the nostrils or the rise and fall of the belly, (depending on tradition). This single pointed mindfulness practice is the gateway to Vipassana.
Being in the now, deeper and deeper.
Vipassana is considered by many Buddhists to be the single most important teaching of the Historical Buddha, his other teachings essentially just support for this one practice.
This is the practice that explores at the experiential level, ‘impermanence’, ‘suffering’ and ‘non-self’, three main concepts of Buddhism. It is a technique that provides insight into the true nature of reality, freedom from suffering and according to Buddhist teaching liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
Vipassana is deep mindfulness practice, such an intense entering into the present moment that over time our perception deepens and becomes more subtle and the present moment expands into something infinite.
This is NOT something that should be strived for, it is something that happens with the correct practice under guidance over time, naturally.
It is not a transcendental meditation practice, the experience is always firmly rooted in the body and the present moment. With time the body is so deeply felt that you become aware of the body as energy in flux, subtler and grosser forms of energy in flux. This energetic sheath is responsive to thought and emotions and likewise influences the thoughts and emotions.
Vipassana is direct experience of the mind/body connection as an energetic field and how the mind/body interacts with the present moment.
This experience of the mind/body as an energetic field is NOT something to seek or push for it will happen by itself with time and correct practice.
Karma in the body(samkara)
During practice the meditator may experience how most of our behaviour is unconscious, simply a response to the subtler currents of the mind/body.
In this way you realise that it is less important what is happening outside you than the patterns of energy within, which influence your response to external events.
Warm feelings when you see something that reminds you of something good from your past, etc.Patterns might be of fear, anger, craving, desire etc. These patterns have been laid down by previous interactions of behaviour and events.
This is the insight, the body and ultimately all reality as constant flux and flow (impermanence) and that our mental/physical/emotional behaviour influences the flux which then influence future behaviour.
But our everyday personality doesn’t recognise this impermanence and leads to much misguided thought and action. Craving leading to more craving, fear to further fear etc. (suffering).
By accessing deeper levels of awareness below the everyday personality(non-self)
we develop more independence from the subterranean currents of the mind/body.
With correct practice we lessen our attachment to the everyday self, leading to a lighter and more intense living of life.
Why the need to learn Vipassana in silence?
We don’t observe silence for the idea of ‘holiness’ or ‘tradition’
silence is the necessary starting point for the practice of vipassana.
With Vipassana we are going deeper than the everyday limited personality and below the language based part of the brain. We experience the body and broader reality in a deeper and more subtle way, our perception changes becoming more unified and less bound by the rational mind’s limitations.
Language based thought is based on separation and distinction. It applies values, good, bad and it defines the everyday self ‘I don’t like rap music, etc”
While we speak we continue to stay on the surface of the mind, caught up in the thought games that the personality uses to define itself.
Meditation is a challenge for the everyday mind, which is like an animal that has free run of the house and resists losing any of it’s freedom.
The mind can resist the practice of single pointed concentration and can come up with many distractions. If we are in deep practice but then start to converse, then the everyday mind can leap back to re-establish itself strongly, making subsequent practice shallower for some time.
There is nothing wrong with the ‘ego’ or the ‘everyday self’, they are necessary functions for survival and thriving in a social world. The only issue is they make accessing deeper aspects of the human experience very difficult, at least at the beginning.
All of the rules on a vipassana course are designed to minimize opportunities for the everyday mind to distract and define itself. There is no talking or interaction with others, reading, music, dancing or body adornment. There is nothing wrong with these natural human activities, just not while learning deep meditation.
Vipassana is a very intense purification of the mind and absolutely not something to enter into lightly, a silent retreat might sound relaxing but in reality for many people it is the hardest things they ever do.
(Interestingly enough as soon as they finish they forget how hard it was at times. I have experienced this repeatedly.)
The most important rule…
If start you must finish or it can leave you feeling pretty messy for some time. Don’t leave midway, talk to an assistant teacher about your difficulties and stick it out.
I recommend all people of stable mental health and certain level of willpower to try it, especially freedivers and yogis. Actually this is one of the main goals of yoga, to develop insight. On a more mundane level it can also transform your experience of freediving.
I normally recommend doing the 10 day Goenka course as an intro because the explanation is excellent and in 10 days you can go very deep.But it is also one of the more austere approaches with sitting meditation 10 hours a day, very much focused on purification of the mind. Other approaches are less intense, therefore maybe less traumatic but also taking more time to get deep. Most other traditions use walking meditation between sits.Goenkas approach involves considerable pain in the legs through so much sitting. That said the pain is a very useful tool for learning impermanence.
Here’s a few words for the lovely and very dedicated Sarah Winick, the organiser of the local Bali courses.
Just on a side note, so perhaps others aren’t discouraged when thinking about sitting for 10 hours each day, every individual is subject to their own unique experience, here’s a public webpage that may assist some with their questions.
FYI for your readers: We hold 10-Day Vipassana meditation courses, as taught by SN Goenka in Bali, please note our next course with availability (October is currently wait listed) is November 5th-16th, 2014 interested applicants may review the website as listed in your blog, and register online directly through our Indonesian site www.java.dhamma.org
Feel free to join the Bali Vipassana FB group to meet other practicing Old Students on island, and to stay up to date with all of our happenings, there will be five 10-Day Goenka courses held in Bangli (near Kintamani) in 2015, the dates will be available soon.
Check http://www.dhamma.org/ for international Goenka style courses.
Check http://www.hdamm.de/buddha/mdtctr12.htm for a guide to Thai monasteries, though some of the info may be out of date it’s a good place to start researching traditional Thai Vipassanna.
Disclaimer…. this blog is personal opinion. I’m not a meditation master, just someone has been trying to learn and practice it on and off(with more off than on) for 20 years.