Vipassana Meditation Origins and Practice

Vipassana Meditation Origins and Practice
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What Is Vipassana?

Vipassana is a form of meditation that is founded on mindfulness. It is also known as insight meditation. Through observing the self, as it is, calmly and without judgment, the connection between the body and mind can be understood. As simple as this may appear, it is actually a powerful tool for attaining awareness, peace, compassion, and well-being. Vipassana means to see things as they really are, literally to see or perceive through. By letting go of the illusions of life one can find serenity, according to Vipassana meditation.


Vipassana has it’s roots in ancient India. It was rediscovered by Buddha in the sixth century B.C. when the still young Siddhattha (Buddha) was searching for the path to enlightenment and a truly pure mind. He wrote down the techniques that he used over 2,500 years ago, “having experienced as they really are the arising of sensations, their passing away, the relishing of them, the danger in them, and the release from them, the Enlightened One, O monks, has become detached and liberated.”

Through the Buddha this form of meditation was shared with many people in India at the time. It spread to other countries as well, including Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It is actually in Myanmar where the tradition of Vipassana was diligently passed down from teacher to teacher over the centuries. Today it is taught all over the world and embraced by millions. It is not a religion, but more a practice and potentially a way of life.


How to do insight meditation? Vipassana can be taught in full at centers all over the world. They offer ten day, in residence courses that require students to be away from the outside world to focus on the meditation. Through such a focused environment students are able to learn, and possibly master techniques, such as being able to focus on the breath and purifying the mind.

To practice meditation at home find a comfortable, quiet place where you can sit down for a period of time without being disturbed. Wear loose clothing and remove your shoes so you are comfortable. You can sit in a traditional half lotus or full lotus position, in a chair with feet flat on the ground and back straight, or on the ground on a firm, but comfortable cushion. Make sure you are relaxed and able to sustain the position for a long period, but not slumped or leaning. Hands can be placed in the lap, palms upward, right palm resting on top of the left. You can close you eyes.

Now focus on your breath. Allow thoughts to drift through calmly, but always bringing the awareness back to the breath. The goal is to be calming, observing and aware, but detached. By focusing on the breath you are teaching yourself to be in the present moment, rather than thinking about the past or the future. This is mindfulness — being aware of the now, living in the now. All worries, concerns, memories, responsibilities can be released. Try not to think of anything, always using awareness of the breath as an anchor.

This is only a general instruction on how to start practicing insight meditation. For more information on techniques and exercises visit one of many Vipassana organizations that have an online presence such as the Vipassana Dhura Meditation Society.

Vipassana meditation is an ancient technique that was rediscovered and taught by the Buddha. It can be practiced by anyone, anywhere for the improvement of mental and physical well-being. It is ultimately a path to enlightenment.


Holistic Med


Vipassana Research Institute

Vipassana Dhura Meditation Society

photo by D Sharon Pruitt


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