What is VIPASSANA meditation?

Learn to see things as they really are, here we leave you the way to do it and how to do it.

In the middle of 2011 I began to hear the word Vipassana everywhere: in the Philosopher Notes by Brian Johnson, in books, in Internet articles. Everyone praised this meditation technique through the roof, and some even claimed that meditating daily was the habit that had had the greatest impact on their lives.

A couple of months later, my dearest AP wrote me a message recommending a blog called More About Mondays. «I think you’ll like it» he told me. She was right, because it turned out to be Marina’s personal blog from Psychosurvival, now a good friend.

In More about Mondays, in addition to great posts about Bertin Osborne and his gazpacho and on top of it Rubik’s CubeI came across –surprise!– several articles on meditation Vipassana. Apparently, Marina had taken several courses and her experience had been very positive.

All of this seemed more than just a coincidence, so I wrote Marina an email telling her how I found her website and asking her some thoughtful questions. Her response was quite convincing:

“I don’t know how to explain it, but Vipassana has changed my life. It was as if until then she had been stumbling through dark streets, and suddenly someone turned on a light. Or give me a flashlight. (…) As a friend of mine who also meditates says, they are only ten days, and they can change your life.”

He didn’t need to hear more. A few days later I signed up for one of the famous 10-day courses. I would spend my Christmas vacation meditating.

Why meditate?

The benefits of meditation mindfulnessas this type of meditation is known in American circles, are many and have been scientifically proven.

  • According to experts, meditating can help you, among other things, to:
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Improve your memory and attention
  • get to know you better
  • Better process pain and emotions
  • Improve your immune system
  • Sleep better

With so many benefits and positive testimonials, I had to experience this meditation thing for myself to see if it was as beautiful as they made it out to be.

What is Vipassana?

The word Vipassana means “see things as they really are,” and it is the meditation technique that he used Gautam Buddhathe founder of Buddhism, to attain enlightenment.

Contrary to what many people believe, this type of meditation is not about sitting down to study your thoughts and reflect on life, but about observing your body and your mind. Just observe, without any reaction. By doing this – according to the Buddhist tradition – you gradually free yourself from the attachment and aversion that you have accumulated over time and that are the cause of your unhappiness.

What I like most about Vipassana meditation is that it is a very pragmatic technique. That is, what matters is that you end up receiving the benefits of meditation, and everything else is secondary. For example, during the course they explain a bit of Buddhist theory to you, but at the same time they tell you: “If you don’t believe in this, nothing happens, but keep practicing because that’s what counts and what will make you happier. ” This is in stark contrast to most religions, where it seems that the only thing that matters is that you follow their rules to the letter.

How to learn vipassana meditation

Vipassana meditation is taught in 10-day courses. There are longer and shorter courses for advanced students, but for beginners the minimum is 10 days.

The courses take place in meditation centers all over the world, and always follow the same structure and operation. In fact, even the teacher is always the same: SN Goenka, a Burmese who is considered the main Vipassana teacher in life. Although two other teachers go to the center, one for the men and the other for the women, they are only assistant teachers whose only function is to direct the course, start and stop the Goenka tapes and answer the questions of the students.

The meditation centers are located in remote areas of the city, so that there is total silence. They have three well-differentiated areas: bedrooms, dining room and meditation hall. Men and women are separated during the course, with their own dining room, bedroom and teacher. They only meet in the hall during group meditations, and even then they sit in separate areas there.


During the 10 days that you are in the center, you must respect the following precepts:

  • Do not kill any living being
  • Do not steal
  • Not having any type of sexual activity
  • Not lie
  • Do not take intoxicating substances
  • In addition, it is mandatory to follow several rules:
  • Accept the teacher’s instructions, without ignoring or adding anything.
  • Abandon (temporarily, only for the duration of the course) all the rites or ceremonies of other religions.
  • Maintain Noble Silence for the duration of the course. That is, avoid any type of communication with other students, whether spoken, written or by gestures. It is only allowed to communicate with the teacher in case of problems with food, health, etc.
  • Avoid any type of physical contact.
  • Avoid any form of physical exercise, including yoga. Walking to stretch your legs is allowed. Dress in simple, modest and comfortable clothing. No daring clothes that can distract the rest of the meditators.
  • Do not read, write or listen to music.
  • Renounce all contact with the outside world, except in an emergency. At the beginning of the course you have to hand in your mobile phone and you cannot pick it up until the last day, and it is forbidden to leave the center during the 10 days you are there.

As you can see, the rules are very strict because their objective is not to get distracted and to learn the technique correctly, but if you stop to think about it, they make a lot of sense. For example, they don’t let you talk to other students because each person must experience the meditation for themselves, and if a classmate told you that he «felt a very strong energy in his chest» you might think that you have to feel the same and that if it is not the case it is because you are doing it wrong, when it is not true.

More on this type of meditation, here.

Related note: To meditate and say goodbye to the cigarette, here.

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