Vipassana Meditation Practice
Benefits of Vipassana
(Anmol: It is always great to learn from someone who has real and deep experience of a subject and this is all the more important when it comes to meditation and spirituality. So below I would like to present the following guest post on the profound Vipassana Meditation Technique from Axel, who was an actual Buddhist Monk and now shares his wisdom, knowledge and expertise with you on his great meditation website Axel G.
If you would like to be a guest author on Master of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Essentials Of Vipassana Meditation
By Axel Gjertsen
Most meditators agree that Buddha was the one who developed vipassana meditation, 2500 years ago. Before that, there had been an emphasis on concentration practices. A concentrated mind is deeply relaxed which feels good, but other than that, there are few benefits of concentration meditation.
Vipassana on the other hand, doesn’t only make the mind calm. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of vipassana or insight meditation.
The Benefits Of Vipassana Meditation
Unlike concentration practices where the meditator locks her focus onto the meditation object, in vipassana meditation you give relaxed attention to your meditation object. As a result, you become aware of bodily sensations such as heat, cold, tingling, emotions etc. It’s vital to understand that it’s most healing to give attention to bodily sensations.
In the beginning, meditators experience varying degrees of unpleasant emotions and restless tendencies. These unbalanced mental energies surface naturally when the mind is calm. In everyday life we suppress these sensations by overeating, indulging in sex, alcohol, drugs and sleep. We only want to experience pleasant vibrations and escape any mental states that are unpleasant.
In vipassana meditation you give attention to unpleasant emotions and nervous tendencies which makes it a very healing practice. Moreover, insight meditation purifies the mind. When you give attention to bodily sensations the mind is automatically purified, that is the nature of the mind. As a result, you end up with less anger and irritation and become more patient.
With practice, your mind gets more and more sensitive and can pick up the subtlest sensations in the body. For example, when I recently did a vipassana retreat in Malaysia, I became aware of the pulsation of blood through my eyes. It felt like the eyeballs were about to pop out.
If you experience anything similar to that during meditation and it frightens you, just open your eyes.
Finally, vipassana practice leads to wisdom. Most insights come during walking meditation since it’s easier to relax the body and mind while walking. Generally speaking, sitting meditation builds up tension in the shoulders. The concentration is not as strong while walking as during sitting meditation since you keep the eyes open, which exposes you to more distractions. Balancing the body while walking also requires a certain amount of attention.
The ultimate goal with insight meditation is to become enlightened which in short involves seeing through the illusion of ego (self), becoming fully aware of your habits (cultural conditioning) and transcending thinking. It’s not a matter of not thinking, but to think when you choose to as opposed to think compulsively.
Meditators benefit a lot from their insight meditation long before they attain enlightenment, which is divided into four basic stages. Insights occur especially during intensive practice and are like aha moments that deepen your understanding of the mind and mental phenomenas.
Vipassana practice also leads to emotional healing and inner peace, which contributes to happiness and wellbeing.
Insight Meditation Practice
The vipassana meditation practice is quite structured. Meditators alternate between walking and sitting meditation, they learn theory about the mind in the form of talks and are offered private interviews with the teacher.
You can learn insight meditation at a center or by joining a vipassana retreat. The retreats are typically 10 days and make for accelerated progress.
I recommend that you have some guidance at least the first few years. The vipassana techniques are not as simple and straightforward as many other forms of meditation, which makes it the more important to practice correctly.
Axel Gjertsen is a former Buddhist monk and lives in Thailand. He runs axel g which is a personal development site with a focus on meditation. Visit his website to learn more about insight meditation.