What I Learnt From A 10 Day Silent Vipassana Sydney Meditation Retreat

Are you wondering what to expect from a Vipassana Sydney meditation retreat? Whether you’re looking to go to a meditation retreat in Sydney or just looking for some time out, I strongly recommend looking into a Viapassana retreat in Sydney.

Find out what it was like when I embarked on a 10 day silent meditation retreat in Sydney’s Blue Mountains at the Dhamma Bhumi Vipassana Meditation Centre in Blackheath.

Looking For A Weekend Meditation Retreat In Sydney?


We have also been to Sunnatarum Forest Monastery in Bundanoon in Kangaroo Valley who offer weekend retreats. Here you’ll do a combination of sitting meditation, walking meditation and Tai Chi. It’s an amazing place, no wonder we’ve been three times!

What Is Vipassana Sydney Meditation Retreat?

Vipassana means ‘to see things as they really are’, which is a meditation technique founded in India over 2500 years ago.

You can attend a Vipassana course in many countries around the world, but for me, I chose to do it in Sydney as the timing matched up perfectly.

This meditation course in Sydney isn’t easy though. Expect the 10 day course to involve around 18 hours a day, every day meditating (some of it is guided, and you’ll get to watch a video every night too). And it’s a silent retreat which means absolutely no talking or interaction with other people.

Many people last for around 3 days before heading home and although it’s hard to stay put, the benefits are worth it. The course also books out quite fast so you’ll need to check the dates for the next courses here.

Why I Did A Silent Vipassana Sydney Meditation Retreat


I was feeling pretty lost after losing my mother about a year before so I went to India to try to reconnect with myself. During this time, I went to a similar retreat which is called An Introduction To Buddhism at Tushita in Dharamsala.

That course is a 10 day silent meditation retreat but it was more relaxed than a Vipassana. We were able to talk for an hour a day in the small groups we were put into. This is where I actually met Steve and we actually went back a few years later to do the same course again because we loved it so much.

When we moved to Australia a few months later, I really wanted to do a Vipassana Sydney course because I felt like I was on a good roll with my health. I don’t think anything could prepare me for how intense the course would actually be.

What The Vipassana Retreat Was Actually Like

I loved the location of the Vipassana retreat in Blackeath. The views out to the mountains were just so spectacular, it’s the kind of place that really gives you enough space to yourself. The facilities felt like a dream understandably in comparison to what we had in India.

I chose to sleep in a dormitory, something I always do when doing a meditation course. This gives me the sense of comfort around others because when you’re doing a silent meditation retreat, it can get quite lonely being on your own for what feels like an eternity.

There’s a strict separation between men and women on the course, even the dining rooms and meditation room is divided.

At the beginning of the course before silence had started, I had the opportunity to meet some of the other people who were also attending. As with other meditation courses I’ve done, I’ve always ended up finishing the course completely picturing what the other participants would be like. Because you see the same people day in and day out, it’s like you know them so well. It always baffles me at the end of the retreats to know that the other people are not how I pictured at all.

After the first couple of hours, we were taken into the meditation hall, a large room which faced the teachers at the front of the room. We all chose our seat which would be our spot for the entire 10 days.

Vipassana Course Schedule

Our schedule looked pretty intense for the next 10 days. This is what we were to expect.

Someone would hit the bell each morning at 5am for morning meditation

5am – 7am – Morning Meditation5pm – Tea Break
7am – 8am – Breakfast (with a down time after)6pm – Meditation
9am-11am – Meditation7pm – Video
11am – Lunch (with down time after)8pm – Meditation
1pm – 5pm – Meditation9pm – Bed

This is roughly the schedule from what I remember. I remember feeling hungry most of the time there. The vegetarian food was incredible but not eating after 11am until the next day was torture even though I wasn’t using up much energy at all.

I went through lots of ups and downs during my time at the Vipassana in Sydney course . Because it’s so rare to have any time to actually think about things nowadays, I had a lot of demons to overcome in my mind. This course was exactly what I needed to do, I needed the space and time to really come to terms with events and choices I had made in my life.

There were days where I felt like I was on cloud 9, and there were days that I just desperately wanted to leave. And it was hard to watch nearly half of the 100 attendees walk out within the first three days. I think a lot of people just imagine a lovely meditation retreat but nothing will prepare you for how full on it is to meditate for this long everyday.

Why did I stay? I knew this was an incredible opportunity to really give my mind the time that it needed to heal.

I knew people who had completed the course before and they told me to wait it out until day 4 when it all starts to change and get better. It actually kinda reminded me of when I recently did a 10 day juice cleanse. I went through very similar emotions – one day loving it, the next wanting to finish it.

I was also told that Day 4 is the turning point of the cleanse. It must take a good 3 days for your body to start really get rid of any toxins before it can start to heal.

What Did I Learn From Vipassana?


I learnt that everything is changing constantly and that 9 times out of 10 it’s not all about me. For example, I might be treated badly by someone, but the reason why is probably nothing to do with me at all, it’s the person’s own demons being projected onto me. This is one of the biggest things I learnt and remember on a daily basis.

Take for example, I was getting bullied at a previous job by someone and I knew that it was nothing to do with me because she hardly knew me before it all started, and that she was just in fact really unhappy. She had an awful boss which made her really miserable, so she took it out on me.

Before I got into meditation I would have got really upset by the way she was treating me but I didn’t because I could see the bigger picture. Same goes with my love life. I didn’t meet anyone while living in London and I thought it was because I wasn’t beautiful enough or that men didn’t see me as the relationship type. But back then I probably wasn’t in the best head space.

I think you really have to learn to love yourself to be happy. It’s cliched and said all the time but it’s completely true. If I think back to 4 years ago and what a difference my life is now I would have never believed I would be writing this to the world to tell them just what my mum would always say; everything will be OK.

How Did I Get My Health Better?


1. Going to India changed it all for me, meeting the love of my life helped massively but at the end of the day, only I could change how I was feeling.

2. Meditation – I absolutely 100% recommend doing a meditation course. If you don’t want to commit to the 12 day Vipassana then there are shorter 1/2/3 day courses out there. Or you could go to your local meditation centre for a drop in session before/after work. Don’t ever think you’ll feel uncomfortable going to any of these courses or drop in centres because you’ll be so surprised with the diverse amount of people there. I remember seeing nuns to tradies to hippies to posh people to every type of stereotype out on the courses I’ve done.

3. I did a 360 on my eating habits. I used to drink fanta like there was no tomorrow, buy pre made lasagna’s fit for 10 people, lived off burgers & chips and drank too much alcohol on weekends. I now eat a balanced healthy diet and I try to stay off the processed foods and sugar. Plus I don’t drink much alcohol anymore which has done my anxiety the world of good!

I also don’t need as much sleep anymore, before I used to need a good 9 hours + and now I’m fine on 6 hours a night.

4. Exercise – I usually meditate whilst running in the mornings. For me, there is no better start to my day than getting outside when the rest of the world is still asleep. There’s something magical about that!

5. I realised I needed to plan my days better in terms of work/life balance. I’ve always got up at the last minute in a quick dash to get ready for work and run out the door with a piece of toast in hand.

Nowadays, I get up 2.5hrs before I need to leave for work so I get time to exercise, make my breakfast and lunch and do any house work. I’ve realised that there’s no need to leave everything I want to do for the weekend because I was finding that they were flying by and then I’d be back at work again. I think it’s incredibly important to really have that balance in your life and to make sure that you aren’t living for the weekend.

Wishing your life away is NOT what you want to be doing. I always put everything into perspective by thinking; ‘When I’m about to die, will I remember this moment? Is it really that important to me?’ and that’s when I know to calm it down by seeing the bigger picture.

I decided to write this post to help others who are going through any pain, depression, grief or if you are feeling unhappy with the way your life is going right now. By sharing my experiences with how I managed to get myself out of a unhappy place in my life, I hope I can inspire any of you feeling a similar way. If you have any questions you can always comment below or email me directly.

Co-Founder and Editor
  1. Hi there! Great article you have, I would also want to share my thoughts that Meditation indeed has positive effects not only in the body but also in the mind, a total holistic wellness that brings us to know our inner-self better. It gives us a peace of mind that helps us have a much better perception about our lives.
    Our advocacy is to promote the positive effects of meditation, yoga and inner wellness.
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    Thank you and have a great day!

    1. Hi Bob, thanks for your comment. I am the change I seek looks like a great read, thank you for sharing this.

  2. Hi Annie. Thank you for sharing your experience at the Vipassana Meditation. It was clear and easy to read and understand. I would like to take part in it one day soon.

    I noticed you wrote that as a result of improving your health you were able to reduce your sleep hours from 9 to 6. That is incredible.  I am struggling with needing many hours of sleep at night or else I can’t function the following day.
    Was there anything in particular that you think might have been the biggest game changer? What were the specific things to took or did to reduce your sleep hours? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Monika, I think it was a combination of things – try meditating 10 minutes before bed time, exercise in the day and try and eat as best as possible. This should help you get better sleep for sure!

  3. hi annie,

    i am currently doing the 10 days cleansing juice detox. and i am on day 2. i stumbled upon ur blog. btw i also did vipassana and went to tushita for a course.

    just saying hi.
    thanks for writing this blog.

    1. Oh that’s amazing you went to Tushita as well. I think it’s my favourite place in the world! Hope the juice cleanse is going well for you!

  4. Thank you for this article. I have just applied for a 10 day retreat there as I feel I am ready and need to get off the grid and figure out where I am in life. All of a sudden nothing makes sense in life to me and I need to disconnect to find my happiness again as well as get my health back. This helps me undersatnd it more and what I will need to push through in the first 4 days…

  5. Hi Annie, thank you for this great article. I did the 10 day Vipassana retreat back when I was in my early 20s because I was in a rut with working through the week and then going hard partying on the weekends. While the retreat allowed me to reset, I didn’t surrender myself to the teachings and refocus my attention. Instead my head was a swarm of thoughts every day, about life back in Sydney, my friends, work and everything in between – as perhaps a way of coping with the silence. My mind did quieten down towards the end but I know I didn’t get the full benefit from the ten days. I’m now in my mid 40s and no longer the healthy young woman I was then. I have autoimmune and other health issues, possibly from my partying years, but more likely as a result of early trauma. And that’s trauma with a capital T. I’m almost ready to go back and do it all again, even after having discovered how gruelling the 10 days actually is. While I can’t guarantee it will resolve my health, I certainly can go in there with the willingness to listen and learn, and appreciate the silence.

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