Meditation is an activity that more and more people are practicing, and it has been shown to have many benefits for those who practice it.
Although there are many types of meditation from various cultures, some of the most popular have come from the Eastern tradition. One of these, originally from India and which in turn serves as the basis for other current practices such as mindfulness, is Vipassana meditation.
What is Vipassana meditation?
Vipassana meditation is a type of Buddhist meditation (Although of Hindu origin) originally from India, which according to tradition was rediscovered by Buddha Gautama after centuries of loss. It is one of the oldest known forms of meditation, and is based on personal purification and transformation through self-observation. In fact, Vipassana pretty much means seeing things clearly or as they are.
We are dealing with a type of meditation based on empowerment of focus and attention to oneself, By focusing first on the breathing, then on the sensations of the body and the mind. It should be noted that this meditation, although it has relaxing effects on those who practice it, is not aimed at lulling the body but at facilitating the connection between the body and the mental processes.
Vipassana meditation has spread to the rest of the world, with several centers and retreats teaching it for free. As the deposit of religion is still very present in many of them, generally in these centers a preliminary period of ten days without killing, stealing, having sexual relations and consuming psychoactive substances is generally required, and for the duration of the period. course, the subject must not speak, read or write or communicate. The individual must be completely self-centered.
How is it practiced?
Once you see what it is, it’s important to know how to practice it. To begin with, lthe person is sitting on the floor, usually with their legs crossed and their back straight (Although the specific posture may vary or it is even possible to sit in a chair if we have any health issues that require it). It is not essential to close your eyes, although it does make the process easier.
After that you have to start trying to get it a state of calm, through breathing. We need to focus on tracking the flow of air during inhalation and exhalation and the sensations it generates, trying not to stop at other things that may be bothersome. It is not about forcing the breath, but about focusing on observing how it occurs. This process is known as anapana and its main purpose is to sharpen our awareness and calm our mind.
Once this is done, we will gradually notice the sensations, perceptions, thoughts and emotions that surround us, being important not to focus and work on them but simply to observe how they arise and occur. This aspect is called Vipassana meditation, in which we will go from head to toe all over our body to observe the different sensations of each part.
Concentration is centered on each region of the body, Without operating on it. There is no judgment, not even labeling or thinking, only observation. It’s about witnessing what goes through our mind and body without interfering with them. This aspect is much easier said than done. If you stop observing to take action on one of the elements, it is advisable to resume breathing.
Then the body comes the mind: we can go observe our thoughts and emotions, without judging them, Do not let them sink. We can also focus on what surrounds us, feeling the different sensations such as temperature, light, smells or touch. In different courses that teach this technique, they also add a part of metta meditation, in which the subject who meditates first cultivates love for himself and then extends it to others.
Advantages and Benefits
The practice of Vipassana meditation generates different benefits for those who practice it. Not in vain, it is a type of meditation that has been around for nearly three millennia.
On the mental level, those who practice it mention feeling a improving their observation skills and a higher level of peace of mind and relaxation. It also improves anxiety by allowing you to observe situations more calmly, and facilitates improved mood. On the other hand, it helps us identify with ourselves and set a less exaggerated tone to the importance of our thoughts.
Vipassana meditation is also associated with lowering blood pressure, which reduces anxiety. It lowers the heart rate and helps us to better control the airways. This reduces the importance we place on pain, both physical and mental, and helps us to know ourselves better, which motivates and hurts us, to better understand and accept our negative emotions.
Vipassana and mindfulness
Vipassana meditation may seem like an exotic and strange thing on the part of the people, but the truth is that it is a way of meditating that has generated different techniques that are very popular today. We are, indeed, faced with the kind of meditation on which a technique now known as mindfulness.
This technique, like Vipassana meditation, is based on conscious attention to our body and to the present moment avoiding automatic action. Focusing on the here and now which allows this technique allows us to be much more aware of our being, and has been shown to be useful both in general and in subjects with different problems such as anxiety, depression, pain disorders, post stress -traumatic and obsessive-compulsive disorder.