Vipassana meditation, also known as insight meditation, basically involves paying close attention to body sensations through which one can gradually begin to understand the nature and truth of existence.
Vipassana is a common meditation practice in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. It was popularized by Burmese teachers Mahasi Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Pandita.
In this article we reveal how to practice this easy yet effective Buddhist mindfulness meditation technique.
How to Practice Vipassana Meditation
- Select a peaceful and serene place that is suitable for meditation.
- Sit in a comfortable yoga pose or on a chair with your back straight but not stiff. This will ensure you are able to meditate without discomfort for a reasonable amount of time.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and abdomen. Do not force your breathing, simply observe the natural breath.
- Become aware of the rising and falling sensations of the abdomen with your inhalations and exhalations.
- Sharpen your mind by paying close attention to all sensations of the abdomen such as rising and falling.
- Your observation should be continuous without break.
- This can be achieved by making a silent mental note of the sensation such as “rising, rising…” and “dropping, dropping…”
- You will find your mind wandering off periodically. When that happens become aware of the loss in concentration and gently return to the observation of the rising and dropping sensations of the abdomen.
- Try to be aware of other sensations in your body and apply a label appropriately as “hardness,” “pressure,” “warmth” etc.
- You should also be aware of sounds and other phenomena around you. If you hear a loud sound, direct your attention to it and label the sound “hearing, hearing” till it fades. Then return gently to mentally monitoring the rising and dropping sensations of your abdomen.
- Categorize your thoughts into “visualizing,” “planning,” “remembering,” “imagining” etc as and when they occur.
- The purpose of labelling is to get insight into your experiences and develop mental focus.
- Vipassana meditation helps us get a deep, precise and clear insight into the real nature our physical and mental processes.
- You need not limit the period of meditation to a particular time, but should try to be aware of your mind and body throughout the day. For example, pay close attention and label your daily tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, dressing etc
- Ideally, you should be able to maintain mindfulness continuously throughout the day.
Walking Vipassana Meditation
You can also try walking Vipassana meditation as a change to sitting meditation. Simply walk slowly on a selected path and be aware of your leg movements and walking process. Label your steps, “left, right, left, right…” as appropriate. Walking meditation can help to improve your awareness of daily movements as well as concentration.
We recommend attending a retreat or class near your place to learn the proper Vipassana meditation techniques from an experienced teacher. After gaining knowledge and some expertise you can continue to practice this form of mindfulness daily at your home to gain lasting inner peace and happiness.Images by ShotHotspot.com and by Nina Stawski.