Vipassana means to see things as they really are. One of the earliest forms of meditation that was revived by Gautam Buddha, vipassana or insight meditation has found its way to the hearts of modern-day yogis. This is one classic instance where going back to the roots is relevant even in a contemporary setup.
In this form of meditation, thoughts, feelings, and actions are given the limelight to give you a better perspective about reality – sort of a third person perspective. Though the very name may sound intimidating, like something meant to be done by ancient yogis in caves in the Himalayas, the truth is far from it.
Steps To Practice Vipassana Meditation
Vipassana meditation is required today more than ever. Isn’t it oh-so-easy to get submerged in the meticulous details of your busy life? Isn’t it so easy to forget where you’re headed or what you want to make of your life? Vipassana meditation can give you that much-needed reality check.
Here are the steps that vipassana meditation typically involves:
1. Choose A Comfortable Sitting Posture
This is the first, most important step. Considering you will be following through with the recommended one hour of meditation, you want to ensure you are comfortable enough while you do so.
Sit with your legs crossed and your back straight, but don’t be stiff. This posture helps drive the energy you need to meditate. If you suffer from a back problem and cannot sit cross-legged, you may use a chair. What’s important is that you’re comfortable and you’re in an alert posture.
2. Breathe Naturally
This one is easy. All you have to do is let your lungs do what they do anyway. Keep breathing naturally. You don’t need to hasten or slow down the pace of your breaths.
The simple practice of noticing your breaths gives meaning to your life. You feel alive amidst the chaos.
3. Bring Your Attention To Your Abdomen
As you breathe, bring your attention to your rising and falling abdomen. Keep focusing on its movements as you continue to breathe naturally.
You may wonder how long you will be able to keep thinking about your abdomen. Thinking of words related to an object helps maintain focus. So, as your abdomen rises and falls, say these words in your mind on loop: “Rising, rising, rising,…falling, falling, falling,…”
4. If Your Mind Wanders, Assign Mental Labels
It is but natural for your mind to wander during meditation. When it does, do not dismiss the distraction. Instead note the object of distraction and focus on it. Think of one word relating to the new object of focus and repeat it in your head till your attention comes back to your abdomen.
You may use words relating to the sense that is stimulated. For instance, for something you see say “seeing,” for a taste in your mouth say “tasting,” and for a sound say “hearing.” If you are distracted by a bell, continue saying “hearing” till the sound fades and you are back to thinking about your rising and falling abdomen. Don’t force this transition. Be gentle with your thoughts and relax.
If you suddenly become aware of sensations in your body, use words like warmth, pressure, and motion. For other passing thoughts assign words like thinking, remembering, imagining, and visualizing.
This practice of labeling objects, sensations, and thoughts is meant to help develop your mental power and focus. It will help you look at a situation as an experience without making too much of the content of it. It gives you the bigger picture in your life.
5. Practice Mindfulness Meditation Throughout The Day
As you open your eyes to come out of your meditation, recite to yourself “intending, intending, opening, opening.” Consciously take note of the change in your posture as you stand up.
Your meditation does not end here. As you transition to becoming a functional, contributing component of society and go about your daily work, sneak in moments of mindfulness meditation. You don’t need to try too hard; you just need to be aware of whatever is happening to you and around you. Don’t react, just observe and explore.
Vipassana meditation is best done when you wake up in the morning or after a nap because a fresh mind has maximum focus. If you’re a beginner, it’s better to start on a weekend, just so that you are in a more relaxed state of mind. As you build your focus, you can graduate to making it a daily morning habit.