There are two categories of meditation, and vipassana is one of them.
Meaning “Insight”, vipassana is a more direct route to seeing the true nature of your “self” and how things are, as they are happening. All forms of meditation ultimately lead to insight, however vipassana practice is a more direct route.
Below are several types of vipassana meditation:
- Body Scanning
- Breathing meditation conjoined with a question or contemplation
- Work with a Guru/ Teacher
One of the first things we learn to do in meditation is learn how to sit straight and relaxed. The effect of learning to sit like this is a clue to how vipassana works: when the body is both relaxed and alert, the mind can be as well. Together, your mind and body create your experience of life, as outlined in the four foundations of mindfulness.
Consider this quote from “Body Speech and Mind” by Namgyal Rinpoche:
You might occasionally feel what kind of tension is being held in the fear center – the solar plexus. After years of clenching that area, it becomes habitually tense, thus affecting your whole state of mind.
Experiencing first hand through the body the reality of who we really are is what vipassana is all about.
S.N. Goenka in the 10-day silent vipassana retreats stresses that in order to do vipassana well we need two things:
In vipassana we witness experience being created in the body and/ or mind, and rather than blocking that experience by clinging to it or resisting it, we let it flow by being equanimous.
Being equanimous can be challenging, as is sitting in a relaxed (equanimous) and erect (aware) posture. The challenge is explained by Namgyal Rinpoche like this:
There is great reluctance to unclench because beings fear that if they let go of one thing, everything might move. But really, that is what you want to happen anyway, so I suggest you turn your negative fear for positive fear – for awe.
Practice 1: Breathing
Breathing meditation is a great practice to start with, in order to train your mind how to be calm and settled like a still lake, rather than a raging ocean.
Practice 2: Drop a Question/ Contemplation
Start your meditation sit as you would usually for breathing meditation. Once you have been sitting for a few minutes breathing, pose a question/ contemplation in your mind, maybe one that you thought of before the sit. It could be something that you’ve been wondering about, like impermanence or emptiness, or an issue you’ve been having like ‘why I get angry at my partner’ or ‘how to be less reactive’.
Imagine you are dropping the question/ contemplation into your subconscious like dropping a pebble into a well or a pond.
Continue the breathing meditation. When a thought arises, simply take note, and return to the breath.
At the end of the meditation, review your sit as usual, and take note of any insights that arose.
Practice 3: Do a Retreat
Find a meditation centre and register for an upcoming introductory retreat.
You can also try one of the 10-day vipassana retreats by finding a center near you.
Practice 4: Find a teacher
Meditation masters who have come to a deep understanding of the nature of mind, and have a great compassion and clarity, can help their students to cut through their ignorance, and see truth in the moment.
Finding a teacher is a great gift. Check out these pages for help in finding a teacher:
Practice 5: Read Dharma Books
“Dharma” means “the teaching of the Buddha”. The Buddha taught on the truths of existence, and to read Dharma is one path of insight that some practitioners take. There is also much teachings of truth available in the world other than what is related to Buddhism. Any knowledge that teaches us something we didn’t know before leads to some insight.
Click here for some valuable:
It is not recommended to rely explicitly on reading (or watching/ listening) in itself for practice.
Speed up the process of unfoldment with the wholistic 8 Fold Noble Path.