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Guide to Vipassana meditation and about its techniques

Sep 16, 2020

 

Vipassana meditation is aBuddhist meditation practice popularin Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, but it is slowly and steadily gathering loyal practitioners worldwide. This ancient meditation teaches one to remain calm, happy, and retain balance in all circumstances. It is important to remember that even though this method of meditation was taught by Gautam Buddha, there is no religious implication to it. Many people wonder what Vipassana meditation is. Well, to begin with, it is a spiritual practice and a spiritual way of life that is marked by the presence of awareness, reality, self-control, peace and happiness. Vipassana is a road to transformation through an intimate study of the self. It explores the delicate relationship between the mind and the body by studying the various physical experiences that communicate with the mind. 
 

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Vipassana meditation is extremely beneficial in the current times when almost everyone is experiencing an existential crisis. Many Hollywood celebrities are known to swear by the unique results of this unique meditation style. An excellent way to get introduced to Vipassana meditation is by attending a Vipassana meditation retreat. These retreats offer short courses as well as long ones that slowly familiarise one with this extensive and often rigorous technique of meditation. Let us understand more about Vipassana retreats.

What is a Vipassana meditation retreat?

Vipassana meditation retreats are dedicated sacred spaces that encourage you to forge a deep relationship with your mind, body, and soul. These retreats teach you the ancient Buddhist meditating style of Vipassana, through which you will be able to find calm and peace even in the face of adversities. Vipassana meditation is a life-long practice and so are its benefits. It is immature to expect big differences immediately after attending a retreat. These retreats are only a medium to introduce you to the vast knowledge of Vipassana.

It is very interesting to know what happensat a vipassana retreat. As most of us already know. It is a rather rigorous form of meditation and vipassana meditation centers teaches its students this technique with the guidance of excellent and experienced Vipassana gurus. These gurus make sure that everyone who wishes to learn this technique, undergoes a smooth transition and gains a good grip over the techniques, etc. The difficult aspects are taught with utmost care and dedication so that it results in the utmost benefits. 

Vipassana meditation retreats offer courses that range from 10 days going up to a month. 10 days is the minimum that one must give towards this meditation style in order to truly learn and experience something substantial. In these retreats, one is expected to obey the following moral codes:

  • Abstain from killing.

  • Abstain from stealing.

  • Abstain from any sexual activity.

  • Abstain from lying.

  • Abstain from consuming any intoxicant.

Vipassana retreats offer simple vegetarian meals and snacks, and they do entertain those with special dietary requirements as well. However, if you are someone who has a highly restricted and monitored diet, then you should choose to wait until the diet becomes a little flexible. 

These retreats are open to everyone, including pregnant women. However, if you are someone who is physically very weak or is undergoing psychiatric treatment, it is advisable that you do not apply. These retreats practice extensive meditation that sometimes lasts for more than 10 hours. Hence, those who are not in a very fit condition may not be able to withstand this demanding exercise. 

Another very interesting aspect of Vipassana meditation retreats is that every attendee is required to maintain complete silence during the entire duration of the course.  Silence forms an important part of Vipassana and one should aim for the complete silence of the body and mind. The students are allowed to speak to the authorities for any requests related to their accommodation, food, or other requirements. They are also allowed to speak to their instructors and gurus for doubts and other clarifications. Maintaining complete silence may seemintimidating to many.  This is why a Vipassana meditation retreat is also called a Vipassana silent retreat. However, Vipassana instructors say that it is not very had to achieve if one is sincere and patient. It is also expected that students maintain dedicated periods of silence even after the course is over in order to gain maximum benefits.

How to do Vipassana meditation at home?

In order to enjoy life-long benefits, practicing Vipassana meditation every day is highly encouraged. As mentioned above, Vipassana is a spiritual way of life. Thus, even for daily life, one who is practicing Vipassana is expected to follow certain moral codes of conduct. They are:

  • Abstain from killing any living being.

  • Abstain from stealing.

  • Abstain from sexual misbehavior.

  • Abstain from lying and making hurtful speeches.

  • Abstain from consuming intoxicants.

Vipassana meditation for everyday life:

  • Anapana

This is the first step of meditation before moving on to Vipassana. Here, one needs to inhale and exhale deep breaths by concentrating on the area between the nostrils and the upper lip. It is important to observe each breath attentively. Breathe normally. However, if feeling dull or disturbed, breathe intentionally and a little harder. One may extend Anapana for up to one hour.

  • Vipassana

After Anapana, shift your attention from head to the feet, and then back from the feet to the head. Pay attention to each part of the body by acknowledging every sensation that you may feel. Perceive the experience empirically and appreciate their temporary nature. Keep your attention flowing by making sure not to remain in one place for more than a few minutes. Similar parts of the body like both arms and both limbs which have similar impressions are to be observed simultaneously. At times, you may swing attention through the entire body returning to the previous part by part attention. This can also go on for about an hour. At the end of an hour, relax deeply by releasing all mental and physical tensions. End the session by filling yourself with positive feelings and thoughts of goodwill for the entire humankind. 

What are the benefits of vipassana meditation?

Vipassana meditation has many benefits that have been witnessed by everyone who has practiced this style. While, one may not experience a huge difference immediately but with regular practice, they are sure to come. Some known benefits of vipassana meditation are:

Detoxification

This ancient style of meditation helps in deeply detoxify their body and mind.. It helps in calming the brain and training it to find positivity and retain balance in the toughest of circumstances. 

Instills compassion, love, and brotherhood

Vipassana meditation helps instill the qualities of compassion and gratitude. By making its practitioners commit to the ideals of non-violence, truth, brotherhood, etc. this form of meditation seeks to extend love and goodwill for the entire humankind. These ideals also help in eliminating bad behaviors and unhealthy habits. It makes people sympathetic and kind and helps remove envy and jealousy. It removes evil and unkind thoughts and reduces pride and greed. 

Increasesawareness and improves focus and concentration

Vipassana meditation helps in improving focus and concentration. It helps in making the mind sharp by promoting awareness during its exercise. Many young children and students have found to be benefited from the practice of vipassana meditation. It also sharpens cognitive functions and makes one patient and motivated. 

Brings in positivity and happiness

Vipassana meditation helps in realising the truth that everything is temporary. This encourages one to make the most of every second and to truly enjoy it. It makes people content and pushes them towards excellence. It drives one to work hard without worrying about exhaustion, and derive happiness by working hard. It makes life a wholesome living experience. 

What are the top Vipassana meditation centers in India?

India is famous for housing some of the best and authentic vipassana meditation center and retreats. Every year these retreats witness a huge footfall of many meditation enthusiasts who wish you learn and experience this refreshing style of meditation. Some of the best vipassana meditation retreats in India are:

DhammaGiri, Igatpuri

 

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Situated not very far from the city of Mumbai, this place first offered its teachings in 1976. It is one of the largest Vipassana meditation centers in the world. It has over 400 cells for individual meditation. It offers many courses that range from 2 days to 10 days. This place runs on donations received from those who have completed a course here and have experienced the benefits of vipassana meditation. The courses here are offered in both English and Hindi. 

Dhamma Bodhi, Bihar

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Located in the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, Dhamma Bodhi in Bodhgaya, Bihar, is ideal for those who want to indulge in serious meditation. It is a majestic 18-acre premise with the capacity of accommodating about 80 students. This place emits a divine aura of spirituality and you can truly experience the principles of Buddhism at a closer level. 

Dhamma Sikhara,McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh

 

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Located in the misty Himalayan town of McLeodganj, this place is ideal to truly relax the mind with meditation. This place also has special courses for children and teenagers. This vipassana meditation center is very popular among foreigners. It is advised to bring warm clothes as this is a high-altitude town. Students are also requested to bring umbrellas and raincoats. 

Dhamma Salila, Dehradun

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DhammaSalilaanother vipassana meditation retreat center that is located in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. This center was established in 1955 and hold about 20 courses in a year. This place offers 20 double-bedded rooms for men and 16 double-bedded for women. There are short courses of 1 Day, 2 Days, and 3 Days available for old students. This place also offers special courses for children and teenagers. 

 

Dhamma Pushkar, Ajmer

 

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This majestic 12-acre property is located near the Holy Pushkar Lake and has the ancient mountain range of Aravalli surrounding it. It is about 130 kilometers from the state capital of Jaipur. This place has residential courses all-round the year. The children’s courses offered here starts from age 0f 8 years while the courses for teenagers’ starts from the age of 13 years. 

Practicing Vipassana meditation has many long-term benefits. The chaotic lives of the 21st century truly need a grounding and humbling experience of vipassana meditation in order to prevent themselves from getting consumed in the spiral of materialism and superficiality. For experiencing the magical benefits of this meditation of the Buddha, one must undergo it personally. Words do not suffice the real multi-dimensional benefits of this technique. 

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