Vipassana, also referred to as insight meditation, could be thought of as a way to practice this insightful charge given by Socrates so many years ago.
Practiced for over 2500 years, Vipassana meditation is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques and is said to have been discovered by Buddha as a way to connect the realm of the physical body with the mental and spiritual realms. Since the time of Buddha, this form of meditation has been passed down from generation to generation by teachers in an unbroken line.
Vipassana meditation is not associated with any one religion, however.
Practicing Vipassana is a method of self-observation which alleviates the impact of universal negative emotions like anger, frustration, and anxiety. After all, there is no such thing as Buddhist anger or Christian anxiety; therefore, Vipassana meditation can be practiced by all with great results, regardless of cultural background or religion.
The Purpose of Vipassana Meditation
Many meditation techniques teach the practitioner to stop thought, drown out external sensations, and escape the world. The goal of Vipassana meditation is the opposite. Translated, Vipassana literally means “to see reality clearly”, or “to see things as they really are”. Vipassana is a mindfulness meditation that helps the seeker to observe the sensations of the body and mind without judgment.
How to Practice Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana starts out like many other meditation techniques by focusing on your breath.
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position.
- Simply become aware of your breath moving into and out of your body. When the mind wanders, gently bring the attention back to the ebb and flow of the breath.
- To teach yourself to focus, shift your attention to the top of your head and, progressively, work down your body. Scan the sensations in each part of your body and experience them objectively.
Inevitably, other sensations will enter your awareness such as the sound of a fan or a barking dog. Vipassana meditation teaches you to simply label the sensation. Even your own thoughts will enter and try to distract you. Label them “thinking”. By placing a label on the thoughts, feelings and impressions that you experience, you place yourself in the role of the observer and not the participant. This is the goal of Vipassana meditation.
In our high-stress environment, peace and quiet are rare and valuable commodities. Meditation is an effective means for finding relaxation and sorting out sensations that may arise. Vipassana meditation, in particular, is a simple way to achieve peace of mind and lasting happiness in a hectic, fast-paced world.
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