While Vipassana meditation has grown in popularity over the course of the last few years, it’s been a well-established form of meditation ever since Buddhist times.
Specifically, Vipassana refers to seeing something as it truly is, with the ultimate goal of such meditation being to reach one’s maximum potential for happiness.
Furthermore, this specific form of meditation is often done to rid the mind of supposed impurities and negative thoughts.
When one practices Vipassana meditation, he or she focuses on his or her unique sensations. It is believed that, by doing this, one is able to see and understand the true nature of any given situation.
History of Vipassana Meditation
Many believe that the popular Vipassana meditation technique was once taught by Buddha and that his lessons were passed on to others over the years, changing and adapting only slightly over time. Today, this unique form of meditation is still the most popular in southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.
Getting Started with Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana requires a little more practice and focus than many meditation techniques with which most are familiar. For starters, choosing an ideal location in which to practice Vipassana is vital. The best location for this kind of meditation is thought to be in a natural, quiet place, such as underneath a tree or in the woods. However, this may not be possible for those who choose to meditate at home or in the workplace, so the most important factor to keep in mind is to choose a location that’s quiet and tranquil.
In addition to location, it’s also important to wear comfortable clothing. The more comfortable one is when practicing Vipassana meditation, the more they can benefit from it. Ideally, a person preparing to meditate should wear loose-fitting clothing and no shoes.
Next, the position in which one sits is another important consideration to be kept in mind while practicing Vipassana. For starters, the person should sit down with his or her legs crossed and the spine straight. Of course, those with back trouble should not further aggravate their conditions; instead, sitting in a chair can be just as effective. Once comfortably sitting, hands should be placed gently on the lap, resting the right hand on top of the left.
The next step to preparing for Vipassana is to close the eyes; this will help cut down on distractions, which can help the person to become more in tune with their bodies and more easily notice sensations. However, as beginners turn into intermediates and experts, it may actually be possible to meditate with eyes open.
Technique for Beginners: Rising and Falling
One good Vipassana meditation exercise for beginners to try is known as the “rise and fall” technique. After getting into the proper sitting position and closing one’s eyes (as described above), the first step should be to focus on an area along the torsos vertical midline. It’s important not to physically look at this chosen area with one’s eyes, but to simply imagine it in one’s mind and to be consciously aware of it.
Next, one should focus on nothing but the rising and falling of the abdomen, which occurs naturally with breathing. This focus should not be one of judgment or contemplation, but simple noticing. Acknowledge the rising and falling of the abdomen; let it happen. Meanwhile, let cares, stresses, and worries fade away by thinking of nothing other than the rising and falling of the abdomen. Do not think about the past or future.
Those who try this exercise for the first time often find that focusing only on the rising and falling nature can be a real challenge. This serves as a reminder of just how easy it is for the untrained mind to wander; one of the goals of any form of meditation is to gain better control of the mind. Therefore, even those who experience trouble with the rising and falling exercise should continue to practice. Over time, it will only get easier.
One of the most useful pieces of advice for those who struggle with a wandering mind is to make a conscious effort of being aware when the mind wanders. By being able to pinpoint when focus is lost, those striving to successfully meditate in Vipassana fashion will have the best chances of getting back on track.
Vipassana Meditation Classes
With Vipassana and other forms of meditation gaining a great deal of popularity in the United States and beyond, it’s not difficult to find and enroll in local meditation classes. Joining such a class can be a great way to learn new exercises and to improve one’s own technique. Furthermore, enrolling in a class can be a fun way to meet new people who share the same interest in finding inner peace and reducing stress through meditation.