There are Vipassana Meditation centers all over the world. Food and accommodations are provided and there is no fee – you simply leave a donation at the end, and/or volunteer at a future course. I went to the center in Joshua Tree/29 Palms. If you aren’t familiar, Joshua Tree is smack in the middle of the Colorado and Mojave deserts – and it is beyond beautiful. Sand, mountains, cacti, and expansive skies. Sunrises so beautiful you can’t help but laugh, sunsets so stunning you might even weep.
I imagine everyone gets something different out of the experience so I don’t want to say too much in case you decide to go. The fact that I knew so little going in was really valuable. What I can tell you is that the program lasts for 10 days. You meditate 9-11 hours a day beginning at 4:30am and ending at 9pm. You learn a very specific meditation technique while you are there. 2 meals a day (and fruit in the evening) are provided. You have no access to the outside world (no phones/computers) and you aren’t allowed to talk to any of the other people until the last day of the course. I expected the food and the silence to be HUGE challenges for me (I usually eat 5 times a day and my husband claims while other people have an ‘internal monologue,’ mine is entirely ‘external’). Surprisingly however, I actually enjoyed those aspects of the program. It was a relief not to have to talk about this experience with others while I was in the thick of it. (In other words, I would encourage you not to let those aspects be barriers to signing up.)