Meditation! This 10 letter word is today, the hottest term in the domain of individual peace & wellness. Around the world, meditation is practised in various forms and types, major being nine of them namely mindfulness, spiritual, focused, movement, mantra, transcendental, progressive, loving-kindness, and visualization. Though the major objectives for practising each one may vary, the basic goal remains the same – to achieve wellness of body and mind. From the boulevards filled with stress and work pressures, meditation brings one on the path of harmony and relaxation. Though it is an ancient tradition and has been practised in most religions for ages, even today it is as much a popular practice for calming one’s mind.
Vipassana – The Meaning
Vipassanā is a Pali word where vi stands for ‘Super’ or ‘Special’ and passanā means ‘Seeing’. Hence, the meaning of the term Vipassana is ‘Insight’ or ‘Clear seeing’ or ‘Special seeing’. The term, Vipassana, has its link with Buddhism where, in its ancient literature, it is described as one of the two qualities of mind developed during Buddhist Meditation (bhāvanā), the other being Samatha (mind calming).
In other words, Vipassana means to see things as they actually exist and is one of the oldest forms of meditation given to the world by Lord Buddha almost 2500 years back for remedies of universal ailment. Vipassana technique focuses on absolute annihilation of mental contaminants and to give the results of highest bliss of full freedom to mind. It is a simple way of self-transformation through self-observation.
Vipassana centres around the profound interconnection between the mind and the body, which can be experienced by focused attention on the actual vibes that structures the life within the body and which continuously interconnect and condition the life within our mind. It is a self-exploratory journey based on one’s own observations towards the common base of body and mind which in turn removes mental contaminations to bring out a balanced psyche loaded with affection, love, and compassion.
With the Vipassana technique implemented in daily routine, the laws that work one’s considerations, sentiments, decisions, and sensations become more clear. Through direct insight, the idea of how one develops or relapses, how one continues to be in sorrow or liberates oneself out of sufferings. Life becomes characterized by increased mindfulness, non-delusions, self-control, and peace.
Everyone prefers living which respects the peace and harmony of self and others. Everyone likes to develop control over their own mind. Everyone is ready to develop insights into one’s own self which will help to get the mind free of negativities. This is Vipassana – The universal path!
N. Goenka & His Association With Vipassana:
Meditations are not generally tagged with any First Person Singular, but the Vipassana Meditation is more known as S. N. Goenka Meditation in India.
Satya Narayan Goenka – Indian by descent but born and brought up in Myanmar (Burma), one of the biggest destinations of Buddhism. Luckily, he had a chance to get in contact with Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the first Accountant-General of the Union of Burma and a Buddhist Spiritual Leader, and spent 14 years receiving training under him on Vipassana. In 1969, Mr. Goenka settled in India and started teaching Vipassana. Very soon, his non-sectarian teachings fascinated a lot of people from every part of India and abroad. Since then, Mr. Goenka and the teachers selected by him have changed the lives of thousands of people through their teachings of Vipassana.
Today, meditation centers, established under the guidance of Mr. S. N. Goenka and teaching with a non-sectarian approach, are functional across the globe in Asia, Africa, America, Europe, and Australia. The teachings majorly include ‘The way towards Liberation’ hence has an intense appeal to people of all backgrounds and all or no religion in every part of the world.
The Meditation Form – Vipassana
Vipassana Meditation involves the principles of ‘Dhamma’ – The universal law of Nature. It revolves around the eight-fold path of noble living suggested by Lord Gautam Buddha, which mainly includes Morality (Sila), Concentration (Samadhi), and Wisdom or Insight (Panna).
Vipassana is a gentle yet thorough meditation. It is important that if one wants to practice this form of meditation, one has to ineluctably go through a ten days residential course under the guidance of a qualified master at established Vipassana Centers of other prescribed locations. Those who take up the course remain within the site leaving out all other contacts with the outside world for the entire duration of the course. Reading, writing, mobile phones, the internet, daily religious practices, etc. are other restrictions that the participant at the Vipassana meditation course needs to observe. Further, partakers are supposed to maintain noble silence and are also not allowed to interact with fellow members, though they are permitted to discuss any concerns related to meditation or material with the teacher or management respectively.
The training includes three steps. The first practice is Sila or morals. This consists of refraining oneself from all those actions which cause harm to self and others like killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and using any intoxicants. Following these principles helps the mind to calm down to a level that it can progress further with the task on hand.
The second part of the training, for the first three and a half days, is to keep the concentration on breathing. This is also called Anapana meditation which helps to develop the state of Samadhi or concentration and gain control over the disturbing mind.
These initial two steps of carrying on with a healthy life and gaining control of the mind are vital and extremely valuable, yet they are incomplete without the third step: Cleansing the mind of basic mental filths. The third and final step towards learning is the practice to make a way into one’s complete physical and mental configuration with clarity of Pañña or insight.
Several times a day during the course, the participants receive systematic instructions for meditating and at the end of the day, a record of Mr S. N. Goenka is played explaining the details of the course during that particular day. For the first nine days, complete silence is observed and on the tenth day, participants are to speak to each other with an intention of transition back to normal life. The eleventh day morning is the concluding ceremony of the Vipassana meditation course with the practice of metta-Bhavana meaning love, kindness, and goodwill towards all.
Once the course is completed, one can then practise Vipassana meditation at home or any other place of liking and comfort. There are no age bars or any other specific criteria to learn Vipassana meditation. Anyone and everyone who wants to have an insight into their self can practice Vipassana meditation.
Benefits Of Vipassana Meditation
Though there are innumerable benefits achieved by practising Vipassana meditation, the most important one is that it brings one to understand the truth about mind, matter, characteristics, happiness, etc. as they really are. It gives the mind a strong motivation along with a sense of patience and contentment. Vipassana meditation also allows one to explain the truth in a better way and with greater precision as one does it being more thoughtful than earlier.
Like other meditations, Vipassana meditation also reduces stress, reduces anxiety, improves mental wellness, enhances mindfulness, improves brain plasticity i.e. flexibility towards positive thoughts, helps treat addictions, improves physical health, removes insomnia, eliminates depression, empowers resilience, non-judgment, and detachment, quite the mind and most importantly gives a state of total awareness and recognition for own true self.
And Then Begins The New Voyage:
With the Vipassana meditation technique, one gets the wisdom or insight of one’s self and strong control over thoughts and emotions, without judging or dwelling on any of them. Being in control of the emotions and thought process will not only make the one practising it better, stronger and happier but will also bring numerous positive changes for the people around.