All over the world, spiritual seekers retreat into silence to better understand the nature of reality — and not just for a few days. Many choose to isolate themselves for long periods of time and retreat into the world-famous practice of Vipassana, where they remain silent for ten full days. Whether the concept scares us or inspires us, it certainly intrigues us on a deeper level. In a dynamic modern world, silence is largely foreign to us, as is the practice of looking inward. We can only ask ourselves: what would ten days of silence look like? What will emerge from ten days of inner observation? Those who have practiced may be able to hint at what the experience is like; otherwise, we might consider ourselves to this ancient meditation practice.
What is Vipassana Meditation?
What is Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation, also known as Vipassana meditation, is an ancient Buddhist practice that requires us to pay special attention to any sensations that arise within us. It is an observation-based meditation practice that expands the exploration of the mind and body and begins with compassion and openness. Regardless of external circumstances, Vipassana helps to clear the mind and reconnect to our deeper levels of joy and fulfillment.
Vipassana meditation is not an intellectual journey, but an experiential awakening. Amitre
In everyday life, we often act unconsciously, believing our thoughts to be facts and strongly identifying with our emotions and other feelings. Vipassana meditation helps us see through these mental processes and helps us gain clarity on the laws that shape our feelings, thoughts, judgments and experiences. What we gain is a deeper understanding of who we are, and a greater sense of contentment and peace of mind.
The main purpose of Vipassana is to see things as they are, not as they appear. In this way, the practice provides insight into ultimate truths, reveals worldly truths, and helps us free ourselves from the suffering we experience due to mentally unclean, negative, or uncontrolled thoughts. Vipassana is the path to impermanence, selflessness and suffering.
Practice is not about pushing away thoughts that arise; it’s about witnessing their worthlessness. In Vipassana, both positive and negative thoughts and feelings exist within a wider field of awareness. Focus is the main tool used in this exercise, which is necessary to see through any illusions our minds create. Over time, the practice of Vipassana can help unravel the lies that keep us from being peaceful, fulfilled, and enlightened.
History of Vipassana
History of Vipassana
Vipassana meditation has a long history, originated more than 2500 years ago. At this time the Buddha rediscovered and practiced it, leading to his enlightenment in 528 BC. He began sharing his teachings and techniques with others, a practice known today as the origin of our modern Vipassana practice.
The practice of Vipassana took root in India before spreading to neighboring countries. After it disappeared from India, it continued to have a presence in Burma (or present-day Burma). Since then, it has regained its footing in India and inspired people all over the world.
In the early 1900s, colonialism sparked a revival of Vipassana in Burma. It was then that the practice became popular and spread to people of all walks of life, monastic or not. Redicia Sayadaw is the protagonist who breathes new life into this ancient practice. He offers Vipassana meditation in a simple way that can be incorporated into the everyday life of the average person. It is no longer necessary to escape everyday life to gain powerful insights; the teachings can now be explored by anyone.
About five years later, SN Goenka (born in Burma) reintroduced Vipassana practice to India. He learned this practice from Sayagyi U Ba Khin who appointed Goenka in 1969 to teach this ancient practice. In the 1970s, people began traveling from all over the world to study with Goenka, and in 1979 he gave the first international Vipassana course in Guyon, France.
Over the next few years, Vipassana spread abroad, opening international institutions in the United States and Australia. Since then, it has grown into a world-renowned practice and popular teaching in institutions around the world.
Benefits of Vipassana
Benefits of Vipassana
Since the main goal is spiritual purification, the benefits of Vipassana are wide-ranging and have life-changing potential. The psychological benefits of this practice include greater peace of mind, stronger willpower, and greater focus and clarity. Vipassana can help improve emotional regulation and balance, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and improve cognitive performance. Overall, the practice contributes to mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical recovery and promotes the maintenance of overall health.
Spiritually, Vipassana helps to connect with one’s true nature. Again, it illuminates our relative sense of truth and has the power to reveal the ultimate truth—or ultimate reality. With peace of mind, our perspective on the world and ourselves expands through the practice of Vipassana, and we become more attuned to the current state of affairs. Vipassana helps us see through our minds and discover major cognitive patterns. With consistent practice, Vipassana can also enhance intuition and provide powerful insights that apply to everyday life.
Also, research shows that Vipassana meditation sessions are effective in reducing substance abuse