Vipassana is perhaps the most widely practiced meditation technique in the world. Its very simple yet extremely difficult to master.
Vipassana is also called Anapanasati and sometimes Empty Mind meditation. Its the method that the Buddha used to attain Enlightenment. Theraveda Buddhism is based on practicing Vipassana.
The technique itself is quite simple. You sit observing your breath and thoughts until you perceive a small gap between two thoughts where there is no thought. You keep your attention on this gap, making it last longer and longer until your mind is completely empty of thought.
As you remain in Empty Mind, you can observe all phenomenon in the universe rising up and falling away.
Proper deep, rhythmical breathing is a great aid in calming your mind and emotions. Simply breathe with your stomach instead of your chest –like a baby breathes. As your breath comes in, your stomach expands. As your breath goes out, your stomach goes in.
Holding your hand on your stomach as you breathe may help you get the rhythm established. Push in on your stomach with your hand as you breathe out fully and completely. Allow your stomach to push your hand back out as you breathe in slowly and deeply.
Deep abdominal breathing brings deep relaxation quickly.
If you breathe in and out through your nostrils, you can focus on observing that your breath feels cool coming in and warm going out. If you choose to breathe in through your nostrils and out through your mouth, clean, fresh, invigorating energy comes in through your nose while stale and releasing negative energies go out through your mouth. Either breathing method works well.
Counting your breaths gives your conscious mind something to do. This is a great aid in keeping your mind from chasing thoughts that then turn into stories, capturing your attention and breaking your focus. Simply count your breaths from one to nine, then start over again at one. If you lose count, just begin again at one.
There are several meditation postures that work well with Vipassana. Traditional practitioners use sitting, walking and lying down. Here, we’ll only discuss sitting.
Four different ways to sit work –lotus, half lotus, Burmese and a chair. It’s very important to be as comfortable as possible without falling asleep while meditating. If your body’s wracked by pain and numbness, it’s just going to add more stress. Your meditation isn’t going to be a very pleasant experience.
The full lotus is the supreme posture. Your ankles rest on top of your thighs, your spine is straight and your head is evenly balanced on your neck. This position is very stable. Earth energy can easily flow up through you while the heavenly energy is turned back up into yourself by your upward pointing soles.
In the half lotus, one ankle rest on top of the opposite thigh while the other ankle rests on the ground. This position is slightly easier to achieve than the full lotus.
Burmese style is often used by people who practice many hours each day. You sit on the edge of a meditation cushion or folded blanket. Your legs are folded as they are in the lotus positions, but both ankles rest on the ground, one foot in front of the other. This position is much easier to hold for long periods.
Sitting on straight backed chair gives good results. Both your feet should be flat on the floor. Your spine should be comfortably erect without touching the back of the chair.
Mudras (Hand Positions)
There are thousands of mudras. Each moves energy through you in a different way. Some simple ones are:
- Your hands rest palms up on your thighs, receiving energy from the heavens.
- Your hands rest palms down on your thighs, discharging energy into the earth.
- The heart mudra. You hold your hands in your lap, right on top of left with the tips of your thumbs touching. Your fingers should be extended, pointing at the wrist of the opposite hand. Your arms are forming a circle. Energy flows around this circle up and down your arms and across your chest through your heart in both directions, forming a counter rotating field of love. You may have seen pictures of the Buddha meditating in this posture.
Vipassana meditation takes time and practice to master, but the benefit is a clear, empty mnd that will allow you to experience the highest states of meditation.
Richard Crown left his native California for Asia more than thirty years ago. He began meditating with the Forest Monks of Northern Thailand, then discovered Krishna Kantha, a Thai Yoga teacher often called Thailand’s living Saint. Following Krishna’s advice, Richard went to South India where he has received authorization to teach from two different SatGurus.
Richard now teaches meditation in centers throughout Southeast Asia and worldwide via Skype/Tel. His favorite teaching tools are Shaktipat, Kundalini and Deeksha because these energies take students very deep into meditation very fast. You can take a personal online course with Richard at Shaktipat Meditation.
Download a free E-Book How to Meditate and Healand Enjoy a free 12-part meditation courseboth by Richard Crown.