What to Expect
All courses offered by the New York Vipassana Association (NYVA) are conducted by assistant teachers of S.N. Goenka using audio and video tapes of Mr. Goenka’s instructions and discourses. All 10-day courses begin the evening of the arrival day and end early morning of the departure day.
Introduction to the Technique and Code of Discipline
It is essential that you understand the serious nature of the 10-day course before applying. Therefore, as part of the application process, all course applicants must read the Introduction to the Technique and Code of Discipline.
These 10-day Vipassana meditation courses are very serious, a deep operation of the mind. They can be a rigorous undertaking, both physically and mentally. They are residential, in a rural setting, and presuppose a high level of responsibility and maturity from each student. It requires students to spend most of their time alone, without speaking to other students, inside their own mind, meditating for up to ten hours per day over a period of ten days. While the course includes lectures, instructional tapes, a few meetings with the teacher, and some limited time for questions, the bulk of the ten days is spent within the autonomous, private sphere of a person’s own mind. The meditation course requires a reasonable capacity to maintain focus, cooperate in a large-group setting, follow detailed instructions, keep to a delineated time schedule, maintain silence, not disturb other students, and to work with a teacher with honesty and full cooperation.
How Courses are Offered
Since 2017, the New York Vipassana Association (NYVA) has offered residential 10-day courses at Sharpe Reservation, in Fishkill, New York, about 70 miles north of New York City, and 8 miles from the Beacon, New York station on the Metro-North Hudson rail line. We currently offer two 10-day courses per year: one in May/June and one in August/September.
Sharpe Reservation encompasses 2,000 acres of beautiful, gently rolling wooded terrain, punctuated by lakes, ponds, and streams. Owned and operated by the Fresh Air Fund, the Reservation directly borders the 14,337-acre Clarence Fahnestock State Park and consists of five different camps.
The camp where our courses are offered accommodates about 100 students and consists of a large dining room, with adjoining meditation hall, a commercial kitchen, and rustic cabins for sleeping and bathroom facilities. The camp covers a large area, and students must be able to walk 5 – 10 minutes over uneven terrain, as they move from one part of the camp to another.
Courses are made possible by volunteers who serve on the courses, and by donations made by students who have participated in past courses. The teachers conducting the course, the course managers and all those who work in the kitchen are all volunteers.
All courses offered by NYVA are run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only from students who have completed at least one ten-day course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers and have experienced for themselves the benefits of Vipassana. Thus, Vipassana is offered free from commercialism.
Students taking the course for the first time may give a donation at the end of the course. You may give a donation, small or large, according to your means and volition. You donate not with the idea of paying for what you have received, but to give someone else the same opportunity in the future. NYVA is financially autonomous, and these donations are our only source of funding; there is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring the courses. Returning students may give a donation at any time. Once you have completed one 10-day course in this tradition, you are welcome to apply for volunteer service at any center around the world.
Student accommodations are in wooden cabins outfitted with electricity, but no insulation or climate control. In other words, there is no heating or air conditioning. It can get cold at night and hot during the day. Average nightly temperatures are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and can sometimes drop into the 40’s. Cabins have beds with mattresses and mosquito nets. Students must bring their own bedding: sheets, pillows, pillow cases, and warm blankets and/or a sleeping bag.
Toilets and showers are located in cabins between 20 to 100 feet away from each cabin cluster. The bathhouses are not heated, but have showers with warm water.
If you are worried that these accommodations may present difficulties, we encourage you to sign up for a course at one of the more established centers nearby, either Dhamma Dharā or Dhamma Pubbananda.
Please arrive between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on the day the course begins. This allows time for you to check in, get your accommodation and unpack. Late arrivals make it difficult for the volunteers to serve everyone efficiently and to start the course on time. If you have an emergency and are unable to arrive at the requested time, please notify us as soon as possible. A light meal will be served at 6:00 pm, followed by a pre-course orientation.
Please make your return travel plans before arriving at the center, as you will not have access to your cell phone, until after the course is completed. You are expected to stay until the course is completed at approximately 7:00am on the last day of the course. Although the course ends at 7:00am, please allow enough time to clean your room before you leave. We rely on students to help us clean the facility they used for their course.
When making travel arrangements, please allow sufficient time for travel to and from the center. For example, if you are flying out of one of the New York City airports, return flights should be booked no earlier than 2:00pm. This will allow you enough time to clean your accommodation and arrive at the airport within a reasonable time.
After being accepted into a course, if your plans change in any way, please notify us immediately.
A Vipassana meditation course is very demanding both physically and mentally. It is important that you are prepared for the rigorous nature of the course. After you have completed the application process, if anything related to your physical or mental health changes, please contact the center prior to the course.
For the health and safety of all the students, it is important that you are in good health when you arrive at the center. If you are sick, or should become ill close to the start of your course, we ask that you reschedule for a future date. If you need to cancel due to illness, your next course application will be given priority
If there is any significant change in your physical or mental health, or medications, please notify NYVA’s Course Committee Registration Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 (212) 575-2400, Ext. 2. If you are presently taking medication, please remember to bring enough for the entire course.
Please do not come to the center if you have any flu-like or cold symptoms prior to or on the course date. Also please do not come if you have had contact with someone with flu within 10 days of course start date. Let us know as soon as possible, so that we can give your spot to someone on the wait list. If you need to cancel due to illness, you will be given priority on the next course.
What to Bring
Required Items (not provided)
- Warm bedding: blankets and/or sleeping bag.
- Top and bottom sheet for a twin-sized bed.
- A pillow and pillowcase for sleeping.
- Towel and all needed toiletries: unscented, personal hygiene articles only, and feminine sanitary protection.
- Alarm clock with spare batteries. You may not use your cell phone or any other personal electronic device as an alarm.
- Flashlight with spare batteries. You may not use your cell phone or any other personal electronic device as a flashlight.
- Enough comfortable and modest clothing for the duration of your stay. Modest dress is required for all course participants. Pants or skirts that cover your knees while you are seated are acceptable; midsection and shoulders should also be covered.
- Water bottle and/or thermos.
- Any medication you are taking. Please make sure you bring enough for the entire course.
- Footwear that will enable you to walk 5 – 10 minutes over uneven terrain, as you move from one part of the camp to another.
Seasonal and Suggested Items
- Seasonal outdoor wear: raincoat, umbrella, boots, hat, warm clothing, etc.
- Indoor footwear or slippers, e.g. clogs, flip flops, etc.
- A shawl or light blanket other than your sleeping blanket for use in the meditation hall.
- Any additional meditation cushions you might need. We supply a large base cushion for every student, and have a limited supply of smaller sitting cushions.
Please Do Not Bring
- Skirts, shorts, and capri pants must cover the upper legs and knees when you are sitting cross-legged.
- Tight, transparent, revealing or otherwise striking clothing, such as low risers, shorts, short skirts, tights, leggings, sleeveless, tank or skimpy tops. These kinds of clothes may not be worn.
- Cell phones and other personal electronic devices. Such devices may not be used as alarm clocks or flashlights during the course and must be deposited with the management upon registration. They will be returned on the last day, when the course is over.
- Fitbits, computers, devices that can access the internet, or other electronic equipment.
- Books, diaries, journals, and other reading or writing materials.
- Personal food items. See below for more information on food.
- Musical instruments.
- Tobacco in any form.
- Non-prescribed drugs.
- Scented toiletries or perfumes.
- Religious or spiritual objects.
- Jewelry or other unnecessary valuables.
NOTE: If you arrive with any of the above items you will be asked to leave them with the management until the end of the course.
A simple vegetarian menu, developed to satisfy the needs of most students, is offered at all courses. No outside food is allowed on the courses, and we are unable to accommodate special food requests. However, if you have food requirements because of a medically diagnosed condition, such as diabetes or pregnancy, please contact NYVA’s Course Committee Registration Team at email@example.com or call +1 (212) 575-2400, Ext. 2 immediately to see if we can meet your needs. For your information, there will be a menu card indicating foods that contain soy, gluten, dairy, and nuts at the serving table each day.
If you have questions regarding any aspect of the course, please do not call Sharpe Reservation. Instead, email NYVA’s Course Committee Registration Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 (212) 575-2400, Ext. 2.