Have you ever wondered why a Buddhist monk radiates contentment and inner peace? The answer is meditation. There are many types of Buddhist meditations such as Zen and Vipassana.
The latter was practiced by Lord Buddha to attain enlightenment. In this article, we summarise the essence of Vipassana and the four types of Vipassana meditations.
Essence of Vipassana
Most of us cultivate certain feelings and attitudes towards people and things. This can generate pleasant or unpleasant emotions. Our attitude creates our state of mind. Like the saying goes, “We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to it”.
Our mental attitude and state of mind generate our feelings. For this reason, the same object can generate diverse feelings and reactions in different people.
We need to carefully monitor our feelings and mind to realize we are responsible for our emotions and attitude. Continuous mindfulness can help us see the truth and break the habit of mindless reaction to phenomena.
Mindfulness meditation can help us overcome harmful, abusive and obsessive thoughts. When we are not mindful, we are likely to give into negative feelings and emotions. Vipassana meditation can help us become more mindful in our daily life and this technique has four main types.
Four Types of Vipassana Meditations
Lord Buddha instructed his followers to sit in solitude and practice four types of mindful meditation to develop self-knowledge.
These four types are as follows:
- Kayanupassana (continuous mindfulness of the body),
- Vedananupassana (continuous mindfulness of feelings),
- Cittanupassana (continuous observation of the mind),
- Dhammanupassana (continuous mindfulness of mental processes).
1. Kayanupassana (Continuous Mindfulness of the Body)
This type consists of observing two main objects: the breathing process and the rising and dropping of the abdomen. You should also pay attention to other physical functions such as hearing, talking, walking etc.
Perfection of this technique will help you realize the impermanence of all things and differentiate between the essential and non-essential. We come to understand that our very self is impermanent which helps us overcome suffering and attain inner peace and enlightenment.
2. Vedananupassana (Continuous Mindfulness of Feelings)
There are three main types of feelings and sensations: pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. These three types can be applied to both our body and mind. Vedananupassana consists of minutely observing our feelings such as aversion and desire as well as pleasant and unpleasant ones.
We need to be especially aware and mindful of feelings as these trigger our actions. We begin to understand the impermanent nature of feelings which helps us overcome negativities like aversion, delusion and greed, and attain wisdom.
3. Cittanupassana (Continuous Observation of the Mind)
Here, we focus on the mind’s functions and thinking process such as the rising and dissolution of thoughts and emotions like desires, anger, etc. We would be able to restrain our mind gradually with constant practice.
Our seemingly solid and stable mind is revealed to be nothing but a bundle of thoughts that continuously flash by in sequence. We come to realise that our mind and thoughts are actually harmless and this helps us attain nirvana or release from suffering.
4. Dhammanupassana (Continuous Mindfulness of Mental Processes)
This last type of Vipassana is complex and involves focusing on negativities like greed, lust, doubt, anger and sloth as well as the clinging nature of our mind. We also learn to become aware of the sensations felt by our senses and their effect on the mind.
Regular practice of Dhammanupassana can help us become enlightened and get liberated from all types of suffering.
To overcome the stress of daily life, we need to learn how to relax and meditate. Vipassana meditation involves meditating and focusing on physical and mental sensations and feelings.
With practice, we begin to understand the impermanence of all things including suffering. Persevere with Vipassana to attain lasting inner peace and happiness.Images by Pink Sherbet Photography and BettyNudler.