The Vipassana meditation is one of the oldest forms of culture Hindu meditation. Its discoverer or creator was Buddha, about 2,500 years ago.
It is an introspection meditation, not a tranquility meditation, in which we begin by observing the movement of air entering and leaving our nostrils, to achieve concentration and observe the movement of events, in order to free ourselves of suffering and, with years of practice, perhaps, achieve nirvana.
Origins of vipassana meditation
Now that we know what vipassana is, it’s time to review its origins, to understand how it has come to our days and Western culture.
The fact of having its origin in Buddha explains why it is a completely non-denominational meditation, which can be practiced both by atheists and by believers of any religion, without this causing any conflict. Buddhism is a belief, not a religion, compatible with other beliefs or religions because it does not contain impositions of conduct or faith, despite the fact that there is talk of a Buddhist morality that is only a guideline.
Furthermore, vipassana is something universal, a good of humanity that should always be offered free of charge. It usually begins its practice with a few days of spiritual retreat, which will not entail any cost. In the future, those who have experienced physical or mental improvements can freely return and make a donation for the maintenance of the centers where the courses are taught and to cover the living expenses of those attending said courses.
Until a couple of decades ago, vipassana meditation was associated in western countries with the practice of yoga or very spiritual people, even ascetics. But clinical and epidemiological studies have shown the benefits of meditation in some patients with certain ailments.
As vipassana meditation is a free and non-denominational meditation, it was placed among one of the proposals for those who wanted to try meditation but found themselves in emotionally delicate situations. In spite of everything, it is not impossible that someone is trying to get economic benefit from vipassana meditation courses, so it is convenient to remember that this goes against its basic foundations.
Benefits of vipassana meditation on physical and mental health
It has been proven that, after years of continuous practice, all meditations have positive effects on physical health, relieving chronic pain to some extent and improving recovery processes in patients with depression and / or anxiety. In chronic cases, we insist that after years of practice, patients can partially reduce the dose of anxiolytics or antidepressants they need.
Vipassana meditation is not a matter of faith, therefore there is not much possibility of a placebo effect. Despite this, there are those who experience appreciable improvements with this type of meditation or another, those who achieve softer effects and those who do not achieve any change. In the case of depressive or anxious processes of short duration, the truth is that the patient will heal before reaching a basic level in meditation.
The so-called tranquility meditation also requires continuous and gradual practice, although it includes breathing control exercises from the beginning, which are very helpful in an anxiety attack. What meditation is better or more effective to achieve relaxation? It depends on each person.
The Vipassana meditation achieves the detachment from the suffering, being able to see things without ever affect (in an idyllic setting), or at the least have less physical and mental repercussions. As vipassana practice progresses with a recognized teacher, feelings such as benevolence and compassion are enhanced. Everything is a way to achieve the ultimate goal, nirvana.
In intermediate and advanced stages, vipassana meditation is done by adopting certain postures, when physically possible, so it also helps to tone the muscles.
Other additional benefits
All well-done meditations and mindfulness help to improve the ability to concentrate, and this can be used to study as well as to perform more or calm down at the beginning of an anxious attack.
Meditations that are based on completely blank mind and vipassana meditation are those that require higher levels of concentration, and perhaps that is the origin of the disparate results are achieved from one subject to another. In the case of vipassana meditation, you become able to meditate by walking or doing automatic tasks like painting or washing dishes.
Learning to meditate is difficult in Western countries because of the shortage of serious centers and because the free courses tend to hide something. When those who have been meditating for years are asked why they were born in places where children are taught to meditate, they often answer that they are not qualified to be teachers. Those who answer us like this are prudent people, because meditation is learned with teachers who accumulate experience practicing but also teaching, in classes spaced in time or in spiritual retreats of a few days, practicing daily and repeating, with a higher level, when that level is mastered (six months, one year …).
However, as vipassana meditation is a universal good, books and manuals have been published to introduce those who cannot find a teacher into the practice. They are dense books, full of concepts necessary to understand what is being done and how to carry it out, which are copyright free and, in the case of being digital, are distributed and shared without monetary exchange.
In the case of some other forms of meditation, it may be necessary to pay a reasonable price to cover the expenses generated by the student, without this being an indication that there could be false teachers.
With vipassana meditation we will achieve a state of introspection that will help us in our daily life, giving us the serenity and perspective necessary to live our day to day calmly, away from anxiety.