What is Vipassana?

Vipassana means insight into your true nature and the true nature of reality. It is typically boiled down to: everything is impermanent, suffering is inevitable, and coming to realize the non-self. It is rooted in Buddhism and the teachings of Buddha as it was discovered by Gotama Buddha almost 3,000 years ago. It aims to bring happiness through full liberation.

When people hear the word “Vipassana,” they are often thinking of the Vipassana movement, or the 10-day silent meditation retreat offered free of charge all over the world. Satya Narayan Goenka is one of many who are often credited for the modern movement as he was a Vipassana meditation teacher who helped establish Dhamma meditation halls all over the world. 

These Dhamma Vipassana centers show tapes of Goenka instructing throughout. If you want to participate in one of these 10-day silent meditation retreats, you can expect to focus deeply on this style of meditation. Students are expected to renounce any other meditative and religious practices during the ten days. You can take the 10-day course up to two times free of charge. After this time, you must choose if you will continue on the path of Vipassana exclusively or not. If you choose to maintain other types of meditative practices, you may not return to another Vipassana course. 

During the course, you must abstain from sex, stealing, killing, lying, and intoxicating yourself. That is because it creates agitation in mind and would make it impossible for you to complete the course. 

Vipassana meditation is sometimes also referred to as insight meditation. The goal is to calm the mind by turning it inward through analyzing and investigating the self. If you are choosing this type of meditation, you will first explore the body and the mind. You will investigate how they connect as one whole. You will see how your mindful breathing and awareness of the impermanence of reality allow a real insight into the nature of what is inside and what surrounds you. Everything that you investigate shows you that our suffering cannot be supported knowing that everything is impermanent. You will notice that bodily sensations can come and go. You will find happiness, deep concentration, and control over your emotions in this process. As you become comforted by gaining real insight, you will quickly lose this comfort as every phenomenon you experience or observe will dissolve. At this time, you are liberated. You are free. Everything is impermanent. 

Vipassana allows the self to transform through a practice that is entirely experiential truly. It needs to be performed with strict discipline to be actualized, which is why you should consider attending the 10-day silent retreat to give it a fair chance. You will learn more about yourself in these ten days than you possibly imagined, as you become aware of your thought and feeling patterns, and ultimately, your true nature. Vipassana is a rigorous training of the mind. Much like modern, westernized yoga is thought to be the training for the body, Vipassana trains the mind while simultaneously using insight gleaned from the body. It concludes with a meditation encouraging love and compassion for all. What a world would it be if everyone tried Vipassana?