|Vipassana comes from the Therevada Buddhist tradition and is also known as Insight meditation. It was the form of meditation practised and taught by the Buddha in order to attain enlightenment. It involves looking into the true nature of the mind to overcome suffering and discover who you really are.
The word has two parts: passana means ‘seeing’ or ‘perceiving’, while vi means ‘through.’ So vipassana means seeing through the delusions of perception. Vi also suggests discernment: the ability to see individual parts clearly with the mind. It can also mean ‘intensive’. So vipassana means an intense, discerning way of seeing which cuts through illusion.
Vipassana helps you to stay focused in the present moment and brings greater clarity to your mind. The practice involves observing your body and mind with single-pointed attention and labelling what you observe. It can be quite forensic as you note every passing sensation, feeling, thought, or sound. You can practice with anything – nothing is off-limits. The meditation can help to release attachments to unhelpful emotional states or patterns of thought. You can even work with very painful or troubling emotions and transform them using this approach.
Vipassana isn’t just about labelling the activity of your consciousness. It’s about applying the practice of mindfulness so you can observe how the mind works without trying to control it. This helps to cultivate wisdom because you can see for yourself exactly how the dharma works in practice.
Vipassana is a form of mindfulness meditation and can be practiced when sitting, walking or eating. There are many specific techniques but all involve focusing on sensations in the body. It’s a good idea to attend a vipassana retreat and receive instruction on practicing, if you can.
One form of vipassana involves a body scan starting from the head and working down the body. Another focuses on your breathing and the sensation of the breath passing over your upper lip. The instructions below focus on a point in the abdomen rising and falling as you breathe.
This is a simple but powerful practice that will purge your mind of anything that stands between you and enlightenment – but only if you practise!
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How to Meditate: Vipassana