Vipassana

May 6, 2008

Vipassana is one of the oldest meditation techniques, having been used by Hindus and Buddhists for centuries.  It is sometimes called insight meditation.

In earlier postings I’ve noted that the basic technique of meditation is to bring your awareness to an object or area and let it rest there. When distracting thoughts come, you simply note them and gently bring your awareness back to the object of meditation.

In Vipassana, your awareness is on your breath. You do not count your breath. You do not make any special effort to change your breath – though your breathing will change, becoming slower and more even as you relax. You may focus your awareness on the breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils or on the rise and fall of your belly.

Your breath has four parts:  

  • inhaling
  • pausing between inhalation and exhalation
  • exhaling
  • and again pausing.  

The pauses should be passive. You’re not making them happen, but you note them and relax into them.

When distracting thoughts come, you observe them and bring your awareness back to your breath. At first, your mind may be active. You think about what you’ll be doing next week or what you’ll have for dinner. Be patient. When a thought comes, acknowledge it by saying a word to yourself: perhaps “mind,” “thought,” or “thinking.” Then return to watching the breath.  Gradually your mind will be come more and more still.

Next week, I’ll cover other experiences you may have as you practice Vipassana.

One Response to “Vipassana”

  1. […] an earlier posting I discussed Vipassana.  In this practice, one focuses on breath, but not with a mantra.  I’ve also covered work […]

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