Vipassana Meditation Benefits, Techniques, How-To – Healthline

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Meditation is the practice of deeply focusing your mind. It can promote relaxation, mindfulness, and a better sense of inner peace.
There are many ways to meditate. One technique is Vipassana meditation, also known as insight meditation. With this method, you practice self-observation by focusing on your inner self in a nonjudgmental way.
Like other forms of meditation, Vipassana is beneficial for both your mind and body.

This article will explore the benefits of Vipassana and how to get started with this meditation technique.
Vipassana is the oldest of Buddhist meditation practices used for enhancing mindfulness. The method comes from the Satipatthana Sutta [Foundations of Mindfulness], a discourse attributed to the Buddha himself.
In Pali, an ancient language of Buddhism, the word ”Vipassana” means “seeing things as they really are.” The literal translation is “special seeing.”
Often, the term “Vipassana meditation” is used interchangeably with “mindfulness meditation,” but Vipassana is more specific. It involves observing your thoughts and emotions as they are, without judging or dwelling on them.
It’s different from other types of meditation techniques, like pranayama (breathing exercises) or visualization.
In these methods, you focus on a task or image. You actively train your mind and body to do something specific.
But in Vipassana, you simply observe your inner self instead of consciously controlling the experience. The goal is to help you:
Although there’s some research on the benefits of Vipassana for mental health and wellness, it hasn’t been as widely studied as other types of meditation.
However, research has found that Vipassana offers the following benefits:
Vipassana, like other meditation techniques, can reduce our response to stress.
In a 2014 study, participants took part in a Vipassana meditation course. A 6-month follow-up found that the participants who took the course had lower self-reported stress levels than those who didn’t take the course.
According to the study, Vipassana participants also experienced increased:
A small 2001 study found similar results after a 10-day Vipassana retreat.
In addition to easing stress, Vipassana meditation may also help decrease anxiety.
In a small 2019 study, 14 participants completed a 40-day mindfulness meditation training that included Vipassana. Their anxiety and depression levels were lower after the training.
According to a 2013 review, mindfulness programs, including Vipassana meditation, may help alter parts of the brain involved in anxiety.
The stress-relieving effects of Vipassana may improve other aspects of mental well-being.
A 2013 study of 36 individuals upon completing a 10-day Vipassana retreat found a significant increase in well-being and a possible, though inconclusive, improvement in heart function.
In a 2018 study of 520 individuals, those who practiced Vipassana reported higher levels of:
However, it’s important to note this latter study was conducted as part of a research paper, and wasn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Practicing meditation, including Vipassana meditation, may help increase your brain plasticity.
Brain plasticity refers to your brain’s ability to restructure itself when it recognizes the need for change. In other words, your brain can create new pathways to improve mental functioning and well-being throughout your life.
A small 2018 study found that a regular Vipassana practice may help promote brain plasticity. The researchers came to this conclusion by using neuroimaging scans to examine the brain networks of Vipassana practitioners.
An older 2006 study found that Vipassana meditation may benefit those with substance abuse. The researchers noted that the practice might be an alternative for conventional addiction treatments.
According to a 2018 review, mindfulness-based training programs with Vipassana components may improve such factors as self-control over habits, decision-making, and response inhibition, all of which are crucial to reducing drug use and maintaining abstinence.
Additionally, meditation can ease stress, a factor linked to substance use. More research is needed, however, to understand how Vipassana can manage addiction.
If you’re interested in trying Vipassana meditation at home, follow these steps:
If you’re new to Vipassana, consider these beginner tips for getting the most out of your practice:
Vipassana is an ancient mindfulness meditation technique. It involves observing your thoughts and emotions as they are, without judging or dwelling on them.
Though more studies are needed, research to date has found that Vipassana can reduce stress and anxiety, which may have benefits for substance use. It may also promote brain plasticity.
To get started with Vipassana, begin with 5- to 10-minute sessions in a quiet space. Slowly increase this to 15 minutes or longer as you get used to this form of meditation. You can also listen to audio recordings or attend a class for guided mediations.
Last medically reviewed on September 20, 2021
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