Vipassana meditation is one of the first meditation techniques developed. Referred to in the West as “insight” meditation, the technique involves bringing your awareness upon internal sensations, desires, emotions or thoughts in a silent watchful state.
“Vipassana in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the nature of reality. It is a practice of self-transformation through self-observation and introspection.” Wikipedia
The main premise and psychological benefit in Vipassana lies in the practice of decentering ones self from your thoughts, emotions and feelings and bringing the mind to a state where it is detached but observant of the thoughts that arise.
This training provides a major mental health benefit by releasing us from a state of viewing our thoughts in a “dual” state. This duality is best described as states that we enter were we constantly judge our thoughts, situations, people and things – that they are right or wrong, good or bizarre etc.
This constant judging of our thoughts is what impacts our mental health, our mood and connection to the present moment. This internal judgment is brought about through our conditioning as children and adults by society, religion, family and friends – when you break free of the inner monologue that is bringing you down or making you second guess your self, you break free of Mental Suffering.
It is important to take a little note here and understand a little bit about thoughts that we carry within us.
When we have thoughts or desires that we don’t believe are appropriate or are painful for us to acknowledge, they usually get suppressed or repressed. So long as they are repressed or suppressed and not addressed or brought into awareness they will still be an evident part of our lives and we will act out on them – without realizing it.
Often this suppression or repression translates to increased tension, stress, anxiety and even depression.
Vipassana provides you with the space to see these thoughts and desires that we have tucked away. Once you observe, acknowledge and bring these thoughts and desires to awareness you essentially see the full truth of them (where in the past it was just lurking in the shadows out of view), now allowing them to let be, and actually slowly dissolve.
Until we bring ourselves to a state of introspection and contemplation to come to the Truth of what has been impressed upon us, the mind can act as a trap – pulling us into a state self-defeating talk or intense evaluation.
- Make sure to dedicate about 30 minutes in a silent room, with phones, alarms and other notifications turned off.
- Have a tea and take care of any other necessities prior to your practice
- Dress Comfortably
- Find a comfortable seated Meditative Position
- Be playful, patient and let go of any sense of “attaining” a certain state – be compassionate to your self throughout this practice.
*A tip to help draw your attention back to your breath and body – take a deep breath in and exhale visualizing the thought or image flowing out with the breath – clearing the slate, clearing the mind.
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Choose to close your eyes or keep them half opened, relaxed and slightly unfocused
- Lengthen the spine and release any tension from the body
- Lengthen the neck allowing the chin to tuck down gently to the chest
- Simply notice your experiences as each moment passes
- When you become aware that you have become caught up in a particular train of thought, set of feelings or mental scenario – simply acknowledge this is taking place and bring your awareness back to the stillness of your body and your breath
- Wait and see what comes up next, and treat it in the same way
- Don’t actively try to bring thoughts up, if there are blank spaces – simply allow the mind to rest in those spaces – view them as pauses and you can observe your breath to help
- Your thoughts may come as images as well – simply acknowledge them and return to your breath and body
- Don’t try to make sense of the thoughts or images – simply observe them in a detached manner and release them, and wait to see what comes up next
- With practice you will cultivate openness of mind and the ability to let go of the habit of always judging or evaluating your thoughts.
- If you observe yourself having preferential treatment of your thoughts or images, such as believing this is good or this is bad – notice this and let it go
- If you find that certain feelings or thought patterns are becoming particularly distracting revert back to counting your breath as in Zen Meditation until you feel calm or centered again
- Each time that you notice thoughts or images, simply acknowledge it bring your awareness back to the body and breath
- In your own time at your own pace gently draw your attention back to the body and back to the breath
- Observe the way you’re feeling at this time at this moment
- When you are ready slowly open your eyes and take in your surroundings