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Vipassana meditation st johns island - cover image

St. John’s Island Has A Free 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat To Help You Reach Your Inner Zen

Vipassana meditation at St. John’s Island

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us tend to forget to make mental health and well-being a priority. Besides going for counselling and therapy, sometimes all we need is a clear headspace. 

While free mental health apps are available on our smartphones, there’s an irl Vipassana meditation retreat on St. John’s Island you can sign up for. Here’s your chance to escape from the chaos of everyday life while exploring the practice of meditation and unlocking your inner zen. 

What’s Vipassana meditation? 

Vipassana meditation - silence
Gain a deeper understanding of how you relate to the world around you and the emotions you experience in different situations in life through Vipassana.
Image for illustration purposes only.

But you may be thinking, what is Vipassana meditation? Basically, it’s a 2,500-year-old mindfulness meditation technique originating from India. The purpose is to develop greater self-awareness and self-discipline – but it’s more than just “eh you cannot talk for 10 days.” 

Vipassana meditation st johns island
Vipassana meditation teaches you to cope with emotions, manage stress, and communicate more effectively with others.
Image for illustration purposes only.

You’ll also be exploring your inner world by observing your thoughts and feelings instead of reacting impulsively. This will help improve your relationships with others as you learn to communicate more effectively and empathetically – long after you end your silent retreat. 

For instance, if your colleague makes a comment that triggers you at work, you can use the techniques learnt during Vipassana to calm yourself down – instead of calling them to settle at 4pm at Pioneer Mall.  

Free 10-day meditation retreat at St. John’s Island 

Ok, so you’re ready to be more zen – what now? 

You’d be happy to know that the 10-day meditation retreat at St. John’s Island is free for all. And people from all walks of life are welcome – whether or not you’re a Singaporean citizen, what religion you follow, or even if you’re pregnant. 

Vipassana meditation - dorms
You’ll be sleeping in the revamped lodge.
Image credit: Singapore Land Authority

But, here’s the deal: the 10-day retreat isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. If you’re looking for new hotels in Singapore for a staycation, wrong article lah. The accommodation here is super basic,  and you’ll sleep in revamped dormitories with shared bathrooms. There won’t be air conditioning, either. 

Don’t expect to socialise with your fellow retreat-goers or catch up on your reading list. You’ll be completely unplugged and working in solitude. No writing of notes, listening to music, or watching Netflix either – zilch, zip, nada. And it goes without saying that you can’t use your phones.

Vipassana meditation - nature
When I say solitude, I mean it’s just you and Mother Nature. 

The retreat follows a timetable, and participants are required to stick to it. Expect to spend at least 10 hours a day meditating, both in group and individual settings. While there’ll be breaks throughout the day, physical exercise is not allowed – not even yoga. You can only take short walks around the area to help stretch your legs.

Free lodging & meals included

Vipassana meditation st johns island - dorms
You get a clean and no-frills bed to rest in after a long day of meditating.
Image credit: Singapore Land Authority

The entire retreat is FOC. You won’t have to worry about meal planning or cooking as all your meals will be taken care of. While you won’t be dining on gourmet lobster or crabs, the simple vegetarian dishes are nutritious and specially prepared to complement the meditation practice.

Vipassana meditation st johns island - ferry terminal
Image for illustration purposes only.

The only cost you have to cover is your transportation to St. John’s Island, which starts from $15/person for a round trip. Make sure you plan ahead so that you arrive on the island before 5pm on the day the course begins. However, keep in mind that volunteers may not be present at the jetty to guide you – so make sure you know exactly where you’re going before making the trip.

Book ferry tickets to St. John’s Island

Try out a free Vipassana meditation retreat

Today, multitasking has become a way of life for many. It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how to function without doing at least 2 things at once. Texting while running, playing mobile games while watching a movie – you name it, we’ve done it.

If you want a break from constant stimulation, this 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat might be the remedy. Yes, it’ll be out of your comfort zone – but this could be the pause you need to tame your busy mind. 

Vipassana meditation
Be immersed in a serene setting where you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and the sounds of nature.
Image credit: Vipassana Singapore

The retreat happens thrice a year in Singapore and you can register online on the website. Do double-check the course details before signing up, as some courses may be gender-specific. There’s usually a long waitlist, but if you’re willing to travel across the border, they also conduct Vipassana courses in Johor that happen more frequently.

Find out more about Vipassana meditation at St. John’s Island

More activities to cultivate self-love and inner zen: 

Cover images adapted from: Singapore Land Authority