Vipassana Meditation

May 16, 2018 § Leave a comment

A young woman practicing Vipassana meditation

A young woman practicing Vipassana meditation

Vipassana is one of the oldest meditation techniques in India. Long lost to humanity, it was ‘rediscovered’ more than 2500 years ago by the Buddha, which he used as a method to attain enlightenment.

Seeing things as they really are

Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are”: this is the process of self-purification through self-observation. You begin by observing your normal and natural breath in order to focus the mind. Once your attention is fine tuned, you begin observing the changing nature of the body and mind, thus experiencing the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and the non-self. It’s this realization through direct experience that constitutes the work of purification. The path as a whole (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and is in no way related to an established religion or sect. Therefore, it can be practiced freely, regardless of race, background or religion, anywhere and at any time, and it will also prove beneficial to all.

Vipassana meditation is not:

• A rite or ritual based on blind faith;

• A form of intellectual or philosophical entertainment;

• A cure, a form of excuse to take holidays or to meet people;

• A way to escape the vicissitudes of life.

Vipassana meditation is:

• A technique that aims to eliminate suffering;

• A kind of lifestyle that allows you to enjoy a positive role in society;

• A kind of mental purification that allows you to face, in a calm and balanced way, the problems and tensions of life.

An old stone statue of the Buddha practicing Vipassana meditation

An old stone statue of the Buddha practicing Vipassana meditation

Target the source of your suffering

Vipassana meditation aims for the highest spiritual goals: total liberation and enlightenment. Since the goal is never the cure for physical diseases, mental purification can have the positive side effect of eliminating many psychosomatic diseases. In fact, the practice of Vipassana meditation dissolves the three causes of all our sufferings: greed, aversion and ignorance. With regular practice, Vipassana meditation releases the tensions that you develop in the daily life and loosens the knots created by the old habit of reacting in an excessive way to pleasant or unpleasant situations.

The Middle Way: The Vipassana Path

Excessive reactions to life’s events, either good or bad, positive or negative, is of the great sources of our misery. Real happiness is experienced through stillness and equanimity, and not through excitement. Although this takes a lot of practice, Vipassana meditation allows us to experience every event with a similar form of reaction, one which is not swayd in any direction.

Although Vipassana meditation was developed or reintroduced as a technique by the Buddha, its practice is not restricted to Buddhists alone. There is absolutely no question of religious conversion: the technique is based on the principle that all human beings share the same problems, and that eliminating these problems must be applicable universally. People from a wide variety of religious backgrounds experienced the benefits of Vipassana meditation and found no contradiction with their faith.

The correct hand position of Vipassana meditation

The correct hand position of Vipassana meditation

HOW TO PRACTICE VIPASSANA MEDITATION

Sit in a comfortable but alert position. The traditional and popular lotus position is not necessary but it is encouraged… What matters is that you are in a comfortable position. This may be with your legs extended in front of you or on a chair. Your hands should be a specific position: place your right hand in your left hand, and let them rest on your legs.

Then stay that way for 40 minutes. The spine and neck must be straight. Close your eyes and breathe normally. Stay as still as possible, only change your posture if it is absolutely necessary. You will experience discomforts and aches[ but these are part of the process.

The essential thing to observe is the movement of the belly, just above the navel, with each inspiration and exhalation. This is not a concentration technique, so your attention will be solicited by many other things, such as pains, thoughts, sounds, etc.

In the practice of Vipassana meditation, nothing is considered a distraction. In other words, when something happens, stop watching your breath, focus your attention on the moment’s event until you can return to the breath. These may be thoughts that cross your mind, feelings, judgments, physical sensations, impressions caused by external stimuli, and so on.

The important point is vigilance and not the object of attention. So be careful not to identify yourself with what enters your consciousness. Just stay aware and simply observe.

This technique is not necessarily obvious to learn and practice; it can calm the mind as much as it can be an obstacle if it’s not adapted to you. Try it, and if you feel good, continue. But if you don’t, then stop and try another, more active method, such as walking mediation.

Meditation and personal discipline

Of course, the work of self-purification through introspection is never easy. We must work intensely. You will achieve results through your efforts; no one else can work for you. That is why meditation will only be appropriate for those who want to work seriously and observe the discipline, which actually exists for their own good and protection; Discipline is an integral part of the practice of meditation.

It is said that habit takes between 20 and 30 days to be done and undone. At first, these daily 40 minutes will look long and difficult, but after a few weeks, the practice will begin to settle into your routine and your mind will begin to change. The continuity of the practice in isolation is the secret of the success of this technique.

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