Spirituality

Vipassana Packing List for Winter Season

According to SN Goenka and his Assistant Teachers, in order to get the maximum benefits from Vipassana meditation you must:

  • Attend at least one 10 day meditation retreat at one of vipassana meditation centres per year.
  • Attend 1 day group sitting per week .
  • Do 2 hours vipassana practice daily 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening.

But after completing their first vipassana 10 day retreat most of the disciples are unable to practice it regularly and in some cases never able to attend another 10 days vipassana retreat because of their busy schedules.

Working people find it even more challenging to get 10 to 12 days leave to attend a vipassana meditation course because the moment you ask for such a long leave, bosses raise their eye brows and refuse to approve your long leave because of unending corporate pressures and tight deadlines.

You should act smartly and plan your vipassana meditation leaves well in advance such that they clash with some festival or holidays season. During such occasion as most of your colleagues are also going for vacations, it is likely that your manager will approve your long leave for attending ten days vipassana meditation course. One such occasion is Christmas or winter holidays which last for one to two weeks in most of the western countries like United States, Canada, England, Germany etc. which can easily overlap with your plan to attend a SN Goenka vipassana retreat.

Packing for vipassana retreat during Christmas holidays
Packing for Vipassana Retreat during Christmas holidays

Moreover it is end of the year and beginning of next year which brings along new challenges and new opportunities . Hence there is no better time to rejuvenate your fatigued conscious as well as unconscious mind by attending a vipassana silent retreat. Owing to winters some of you will be thinking may be some other time because you are unsure of how cold it will be at vipassana meditation centre and how are you going to deal with chilly weather in that environment.

No worries because I have got you covered in your plan to attend a 10 days vipassana meditation retreat during winter season. If you ask me how cold than my answer will be yes temperature at vipassana center will definitely be colder as compared to city temperature because of open area of remotely located vipassana centers. However if your vipassana packing list for winters consists of all the necessary clothes and accessories to deal with cold, wet and chilly weather trust be you will be able to complete your goenka retreat without any problem pertaining to cold climate.

I am quite sure most of you must be aware of benefits of wearing layers of warm clothes in winters but just in case you are not let me give a brief explanation:

  • Air Pockets:

Layers of clothing create pockets of air in between them. As air is poor conductor of heat, it does not let your body heat pass through it. Hence these air pockets act as insulators. More the layers better the insulation keeping you warmer.

  • Dealing with Moisture:

Layering helps in dealing with moisture in a better way. The innermost layer which is in direct contact with your skin is meant to absorb your sweat so that you remain dry and not feel cold due to moisture buildup.

The outermost layer is meant to deal with environment driven moisture elements like rain, wind and snow. Its job is to ensure that all of these elements are restricted at the external level itself.

Disciples in queue for registration at vipassana center during chilly and snowy winters
Disciples in queuing up for registration at a Vipassana Center during chilly & snowy winters

The middle layer is meant to act like an insulator for trapping the air and retaining the heat generated by your body by preventing it to escape.

  • Flexibility in Insulation:

You can choose to increase or decrease the level of insulation by wearing or removing a layer of clothes, respectively, depending on the temperature at vipassana meditation center. One can witness different degrees of temperature on a same day during different times.

For example temperature will be very cold during mornings and evening in winters however it can get quite warm during afternoon when the sun is out. So layering provides you flexibility to add or reduce insulation level accordingly.

Now that everyone is aware of significance of layering during winters its high time I should provide the list of things you must add to your vipassana packing list for winter season:

Thermals as a Base layer:

Let me start with the innermost or base layer which is directly in contact with your body. As explained above the role of base layer is not only to keep your body warm but also ensure that it absorbs the moisture arising out of your sweat so that your skin remains dry at all the times.

Thermajohn Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Men is the perfect Base layer set to wear in cold weather. Its heat retention feature will protect you against the cold, its moisture absorption capability will keep you dry for long and its stretchable & light material will ensure you can freely move your limbs without any discomfort.

Thermajohn Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Men Fleece Lined Base Layer Set for Cold Weather

Thermajane Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Women comes with all the aforementioned features be it moisture wicking, heat retention and comfort which are must for an ideal base layer during chilly winters. Thermajane Thermals are lined with fleece to provide extra soft feel to your skin without compromising on warmth.

Thermajane Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Women Fleece Lined Base Layer Pajama Set Cold Weather

Pro Tip: You must carry at least 4 pairs if not more because you are going to wear them for 11 days keeping in mind 10 day vipassana starts on day 0 and ends on morning of 11th day.

Sweatshirt for Middle Layer:

While selecting middle layer one must keep in mind that sometimes your middle layer will act as outer layer when you have removed the outer layer in order to for adjust to the temperature. In such situations it is indispensable for middle layer to have features to protect you against rain, wind and snow.

Carhartt Men’s Rain Defender Loose Fit Heavyweight Quarter-Zip Sweatshirt, as the name suggests will shield you against the harsh elements of winters. This thick sweatshirt has a loose fit to give you comfort and warmth by providing perfect insulation when worn under the outer layer and above the base layer.

Carhartt Men's Rain Defender Loose Fit Heavyweight Quarter-Zip Sweatshirt

Carhartt Women’s Clarksburg Graphic Sleeve Pullover Sweatshirt constitutes all the must have features for middle layer during chilly winters. It is thick and light weight keeping you warm without compromising on comfort. It is perfect to act as outer layer when you are inside your residential quarter at the meditation center while taking rest during the breaks.

Carhartt Women's Clarksburg Graphic Sleeve Pullover Sweatshirt

Bomber Jacket as Outer Layer:

For outer layer you need a jacket which has all the features to protect you from cold & strong winds, rain and even snow for that matter without restrict your movements. Cold weather can become really harsh when accompanied with strong winds, rains and snowfall. Wearing wet clothes in winters while practicing vipassana is the last thing you want.

Hence what you need is a bomber jacket which is windproof, waterproof and breathable. Made with 600 fill goose down, THE NORTH FACE Men’s McMurdo Bomber is perfect jacket to give you superior warmth in cold and wet weather.

THE NORTH FACE Men's McMurdo Bomber

If you are female than THE NORTH FACE Women’s Gotham Jacket – Vintage White is ideal for you thanks to its 550 fill goose down that is RDS Certified. It is fully equipped to beat the harsh cold and wet weather.

Women's Gotham Jacket - Vintage White

I must mention that both these jackets are made from an eco-conscious recycled fabric keeping in mind warmth and performance while reducing environment impact.

Shawl:

Shawl is a versatile garment that is rectangular in shape and is draped around the upper body to keep you warm during winter season. Its made up of material like wool, cashmere etc and is the One thing that one must bring to vipassana retreat not only during winters but also during autumn or changing weather. They are warm, breathable and provide an extra layer of insulation at the outer level if the layers you are already wearing are not enough to keep you warm.

Meditation Shawl or Blanket, Exotic Shawl/Wrap, Oversize Scarf or Stole. Unisex

Based on my experience I have realized that while practicing vipassana our bodies releases heat and as a result we tend to feel warmer even when temperature outside is chilly. In such a scenario you can easily remove your shawl while practicing vipassana inside dhamma hall. Once your session is complete and you are going to step out of the hall you can again easily drap the shawl around your shoulders covering your upper body. Hence a shawl is a utility garment that you must add to your vipassana 10 day packing list. You will surely see almost every other vipassana student wearing a shawl irrespective of age, size or gender.

Meditation Shawl or Blanket, Exotic Shawl/Wrap, Oversize Scarf or Stole. Unisex

Om Shanti’s meditation shawls comes in sober colors and are large enough to act as a blanket while you are taking rest. These meditation shawls cover your entire body while you are sitting crossed during vipassana practice, providing perfect warmth so that you can focus on your breath and body sensations without getting distracted due to cold temperature at the dhamma center. These shawls are unisex, warm and comfortable making them a must have accessory during a winter season vipassana retreat or travel in general for that matter. 

Pro Tip: One must carry at least 2 shawls if not more during a 10 day meditation course.

Shoe traction devices during Snowfall (Must in snowfall):

If snowfall is expected during the retreat at location where you are going to attend 10 day silent meditation retreat you must carry Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats along with you be able to be able to walk on the surface laden with slippery snow without falling. Therefore, it is very important to check weather forecast at the time of deciding what to pack for vipassana course.

Yaktrax cleats are made up of abrasion -resistant 1.2 mm steel coils with zinc coating to prevent rusting. Yaktrax are unisex, ultra-lightweight and are equipped with highly elastic outer band with heel tab making them easy to slip on and off your shoes.

Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats - 360-Degree Grip on Snow, Ice, & Multi-terrain Surfaces - Elastic Outer Band w/ Easy-On/Off Heel Tab & 1.2mm Zinc-coated Steel Coils - Abrasion & Rust Resistant - Unisex

Yaktrax cleats provide strong traction on snowy surface such that you can not only walk on ice laden ground but also climb snowy stairs without the risk of slipping. I highly recommend anyone who is going to attend vipassana course during snowfall to add Yaktrax cleats to their vipassana 10 day packing list especially elders.

Woolen Socks:

Feet are one part of the body that tend to feel colder as compared to other parts of the body. If your blood circulation is not optimal warm blood will not reach your feet as they are at extreme end of your body. As a result you feel colder on feet as compared to rest of your body.

In order to deal with cold feet you should wear two layers of warm socks. This will also ensure that you don’t get cold and fever during vipassana camp because you are more vulnerable to catching cold through bare feet during winters.

Buttons & Pleats Wool Socks for Men & Women Merino Thermal Warm Cozy Winter Boot Sock

Buttons & Pleats Wool Socks for Men & Women are perfect to wear during a meditation course as they provide total warmth above all else, these thick socks trap in heat to keep your feet warm in even the chilliest winter air. The natural temperature regulation of the wool makes these excellent socks for men and women who don’t want their feet to feel overheated.

Jeasona Wool Socks for Women Warm Winter Thermal Thick Socks Gifts for Women MomIf you are a woman and looking for a vintage style thermal socks, Jeason as has a very good set of 5 thick woolen socks that are are made of 35% Wool + 29% Cotton + 36% Polyester. Its sweat absorption ability make them perfect for a Vipassana meditation course as it will ensure that your feet don’t smell bad and hence not impact meditation of other disciples who are practicing vipassana along with you in dhamma meditation hall.

Pro Tip: One must carry at least 10 pairs for a 10 days Vipassana mediation course 

 

Beanie:

Ears are another part of the body which feel very cold during chilly weather especially if it’s windy. This is because unlike other parts of the body ears don’t have a significant layer of fat to protect them against cold weather. Needless to say your ears must be adequately covered to protect you from windy and cold climate.

Connectyle Classic Men's Warm Winter Hats Acrylic Knit Cuff Beanie Cap Daily Beanie HatIt is equally important to cover your Head otherwise you will lose body heat through your head if left uncovered. As I mentioned earlier while explaining the concept of layering that you should retain your body heat to keep yourself warm. A Beanie is hence one of the important things to bring for vipassana meditation course during a windy winter season.

Connectyle Classic Men’s doubled layered Beanie is designed aptly to give you all day warmth. Its soft and stretchable material makes it comfortable for you to wear it for long period while covering your ears.

Gloves:

During winters your body tries to manage its temperature to keep you warm and while doing so it restricts blood flow to your hands. As a result your feel colder on your hands. That’s why you tend to keep your hands inside your pockets during winters.

While no one can stop you from keeping your hands inside your pockets at meditation center however you are not supposed to keep your hands inside pockets while practicing vipassana. I have never seen anyone doing meditation while keeping their hands in pockets and such a posture will not make any sense.

The cold feeling on your hands may impact your vipassana practice which is the last thing you want. Hence one must not forget to pack a couple of pair of gloves too while planning for goenka retreat during winter season.

Scarf or Muffler:

Scarf for Women Shawl Pashmina Wedding Shawl Wraps for Evening Dresses Winter Warm

The idea behind wearing a muffler is to prevent the body heat from escaping through the neck area hence it’s not a bad idea to carry a warm muffler as well while attending a vipassana retreat during winter season. It’s small and light hence it’s easy to pack and wear. All you need to do is simply wrap it around your neck. No perfection needed as to how its styled because everyone’s eyes are closed while practicing vipassana and there is no one to judge you.

Honnesserry Winter Warm Beanie Hat Scarf and Touchscreen Gloves Set is perfect item for women to add to their packing list to ensure that they remain warm during their vipassana retreat.Honnesserry Winter Warm Beanie Hat Scarf and Touchscreen Gloves Set for Womens Skull Caps Neck Scarves with Fleece Lined

Conclusion

Vipassana is technique which teaches you to act rather than react while dealing with the problems. On the same lines, your mind may perceive elements like snowfall, rain, winds, fog etc. as problems hence its first reaction could be to Not attend a vipassana camp during such chilly weather. However, with the ability to act rather than react, your mind can arrive at ways to deal with all of the problems pertaining to the cold weather season at dhamma meditation center.

Perhaps if you are an old student of vipassana, you too can suggest things that can be added to packing list for vipassana during winters season in the comment section, just in case I missed something that can make your stay during a vipassana meditation 10 day course trouble free during cold and chilly winter season. As always I am happy to hear from you so feel free to give your feedback and suggestions in the comment box.

Be Happy.

 

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