Vipassana literally means ‘to see things as they truly are”. At its core, it is simply an ancient Indian meditation technique.
According to Buddhism, Gotama Buddha rediscovered this technique 2500 years ago. He then taught it as an “Art of Living” – a universal remedy for all known and unknown ills, including anxiety and insomnia.
The end goal of Vipassana meditation is to end human suffering through the eradication of mental impurities.
In order to achieve this end goal, there is a need to attain equanimity. In Vipassana, equanimity means being able to observe all kinds of physical and mental stimuli and simply not reacting to them.
Before you can attain it, you have to first understand that like our own mortal shells, everything is temporary. You must realize that everything that you experience in your life, whether positive or negative, is as impermanent as your time on this world.
Thus, there is no need to be attached to anything, whether it’s pain, love, hate, or even happiness. Attachment only leads to suffering.
According to students and trainers of Vipassana, the core concept of equanimity can be realized by a student during the 4th day of a full 10-day Vipassana training session or retreat. Before this can happen, you must undergo meditation for hours during the first days.
While this sounds simple, make no mistake about it – a lot of practitioners have said that Vipassana meditation is the toughest mental training they’ve ever experienced.
They’ve also said that the rewards are well worth it. And in order to get those rewards, you need to undergo rigorous training and meditation.
As a prerequisite to achieving equanimity, the goal of Vipassana meditation is for you to become fully aware of all sensations. This begins through focusing all your attention on your breathing.
Simply observe the physical sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils and accept this natural reality for what it is. As you learn to not let your mind wander by simply focusing on your breathing, you can start observing other parts of your body, starting from the ones near your nostrils and mouth.
As you observe and experience different sensations throughout your body, you must start learning not to physically react to these sensations. Do not linger on any painful or pleasurable sensation.
By reacting to any stimuli, you’re allowing it to attach itself to your mind. If you expect real results from practicing Vipassana, you must learn to not even move in response to these sensations. Simply experience them and move on.
This can be one of the most mentally challenging tasks you’ve ever faced. This type of meditation is practiced up to 10 hours per day in Vipassana. That’s throughout the full course of the 10 days.
In order to help you with self-observation and non-reaction, the first day is marked with a lecture that explains certain rules you need to practice before even attempting Vipassana.
Moral Code of Conduct
Vipassana meditation, as mentioned above, is simply a meditation technique. It’s a non-sectarian tradition that comes with no religious or philosophical strings attached.
The moral code of conduct taught during day one serves more as a guide for properly practicing the ancient meditation technique. The basic rules are as follows:
- No Killing
- No Stealing
- No Sexual Activity of Any Kind
- No Lying
- No Intoxicants
It’s a list of simple rules designed to help you calm your mind.
With calmness comes the ability to shrug off anxiety, agitation, and doubt – things that just get in the way of self-observation. And without self-observation and complete awareness of all stimuli, you can’t learn and practice equanimity.
Vipassana practice starts with taking these rules to heart. Some teachers even go so far as to prohibit students from writing down thoughts or speaking to one another during the course of training.
Again, it’s all in the name of properly training yourself in Vipassana meditation. Each rule exists to help understand and apply the concepts better.
Equanimity VS Insomnia
Achieving equanimity means not being bothered by anything because of your awareness of their true, temporary nature.
Contrary to what some might think, the full realization that everything is temporary isn’t an entirely depressing idea. In fact, it can be highly liberating, allowing you to really focus on the present and not let anxiety affect your reactions and decisions.
In this way, Vipassana can truly help those who suffer from insomnia. Through achieving peace of mind by not being attached to anything, you might finally find a real, natural, and completely drug-free cure to your sleep problems.
10 Days is Just the Beginning
A full 10-day course only teaches you how to do Vipassana meditation. Finishing the course doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve attained true equanimity. It only means that you’ve experienced it, and through training, you also know how to experience it again.
Like everything else, it’s an experience that’s temporary. You can only achieve it again and again through consistent practice until you can truly let go of all worldly attachments. This is why perfecting Vipassana meditation can take more than a lifetime.
In order to propagate the non-sectarian technique of Vipassana meditation, its 10-day courses are completely free of charge.
Teachers volunteer their time while training facilities and other necessary resources are secured through donations. You can only donate to the cause of teaching Vipassana once you manage to complete a full 10-day Vipassana training course.
Peter Mutuc is a freelance writer, licensed nurse, and sleep enthusiast from Los Angeles, California. After traveling through SE Asia to learn of his heritage, he joined a few of his colleagues at One Bed Mattress. He practices Zen meditation daily and prefers living a natural health lifestyle.