What is Vipassana Meditation?
Vipassana meditation is the practice of “insightfulness.” It is the practice of close attention to sensations which you see the true nature of living existence.
It’s believed that Vipassana is the meditation practice of Buddha himself, and while the form of the practice can vary, its the basis of all of the Buddhist tradition.
Vipassana meditation originates from Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. Due to its popularity, we’ve seen the practice extend to the Western side of the world. If you’re new to meditation, Vipassana is a great way to start as it requires only 5-10 minutes of your day.
If you have an interest in meditation, we suggest that you continue to learn how Vipassana meditation can change your life.
Benefits of Vipassana Meditation
Meditation offers the ability to “clear your mind.” Our minds are complex, and Vipassana meditation is a great way to help us see things more clearly.
Here are a few benefits you’ll experience when practicing vipassana meditation!
Reducing Feelings of Envy and Jealousy
Practicing Vipassana meditation helps you become self-aware. This means that you’ll know your strengths and weaknesses, and use that information to create a successful life. Thus, frequent vipassana exercises will help overcome envy and jealousy which often stem from a fear of failure.
Improves Overall Health
Vipassana meditation has a good effect on your overall health. Once you start focusing your breath during the meditation process, the inadequate and faulty respiration process becomes corrected.
With a sufficient supply of oxygen to various organs, blood circulation to various parts improves as well. Also, Vipassana teaches us how to dissociate from any bodily aches and pains.
Frequent practitioners of Vipassana meditation reported that their pain was relieved when practicing this form of meditation.
Remember to start small even if it’s for a few minutes a day, it’s fine. Making the right effort is the important thing when trying doing this meditative exercise.
Being Non-Judgemental and Nonpartial
For beginners of Vipassana, it can be difficult to close your eyes and focus on the breathing. Actually, your mind is filled with millions of thoughts that have no connection between one another.
However, Vipassana focuses on being non-judgemental and non-partial. You’ll begin to see your thoughts as small experiences instead of naming, judging, or trying. Instead of trying to concentrate and control, meditation is all about “letting go.”
Practicing Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana is a great meditation routine for beginners as there’s nothing complicated about this exercise. It asks us to be present and observe everything that’s happening at the moment.
Start by finding a comfortable position and begin breathing. Don’t try to force out your breathing. Instead, let it flow naturally in through your nose and out your mouth.
Pay attention to how your belly rises and falls throughout the exercise. Your thoughts should be directed towards the rising and falling that you create a mantra of “rising…falling”.
If your mind wanders off, that’s perfectly fine. Focus on the distraction and label it in its simplest form. Just use it as a time to redirect your focus and continue breathing.
For instance, if a loud sound has caught your attention, label it as “hearing.” However, if the distraction is internal, like the thoughts of the past or future, then label it as “planning or remembering.”
Don’t punish yourself for having these distractions. Be aware of them, label them, and redirect your attention to the rising and falling of your breath.
It’s suggested that you practice Vipassana meditation an hour a day, but also carry the mindset with you throughout your daily life. Practicing Vipassana meditation helps us observe and label every activity we’re focused on. Whether its “wash the dishes” or “open the door,” mindful attention should be present.
Vipassana Meditation Retreats
While you can practice meditation at home, you’ll get the full experience when going to a retreat. Retreats give you the opportunity to meet new friends and immerse yourself into Vipassana meditation.
Here are some retreats that we recommend for all levels.
Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Thailand
On the first day of every month, this forest retreat offers a 10-day meditation retreat. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert, all levels are welcomed.
But, the conditions are rugged, as you’ll sleep on a wooden pillow and a straw mat. There are no cellphones throughout the retreat; as you’re required to turn it in before partaking in the exercise.
The Garden of Liberation attracts foreigners and is a great option for those wanting an authentic meditation experience with instructions in English.
Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia, Canada
Gampo Abbey is a meditation retreat that’s geared towards the monastic life. Residents of the area practice the Shambhala tradition and must make a year-long commitment. However, those who want a regular meditation practice are welcomed to practice for a week during their summer in-house season.
If you want to study with Gampo Abbey’s lead teacher Ani Pema Chödrön, you can do so this year at the Omega Institute in New York.
Ala Kukui, Hawaii
The idea behind the Ala Kukui retreat was inspired by the tragic events of September 11. This retreat is situated among fruit trees and hills with over 12 acres in Maui, Hawaii. Various offerings throughout the year draw locals and regular visitors.
Ala Kukui is a great retreat for beginners and war veterans. Meditation exercises acknowledge and aim to heal extreme PTSD, loss, and grief that other soldiers tend to struggle with. Programs in yoga, writing, and hula are available.
Vipassana meditation is an easy hobby that can be picked up by anyone. Even if you have a busy schedule, you’ll experience the benefits after 5-10 sessions, 6 days a week. Try it out to experience the world in a calmer, happier, and healthier way.
What are your thoughts about Vipassana Meditation?
Have any favorite retreats to share?
Tell us in the comments below!