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Harnessing the Power of the Mind
Vipassana, an ancient Buddhist meditation technique, is being rediscovered as a wellness method

Very often we go to spas to help detox our bodies. However, what we miss quite obviously is what we can do to detox our mind and soul. Whilst calming the mind is equally, if not more important, it is often ignored. However, if you are looking at cleansing your mind, check out Vipassana Meditation. Vipassana means getting an insight into the true nature of reality and be able to see things as they really are. This is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation that was rediscovered by Lord Buddha more than 2500 years ago and propagated by him as a universal remedy. What sets this meditation form apart from the rest that this is non-sectarian and is aimed at the eradication of mental impurities resulting in highest happiness. Now that’s something hard to say no to. Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

Opines Yoga Guru and founder of Niramaya Yoga Kuteeram, Raghavendra Shenoy a direct disciple of the legendary Sri BKS Iyengar, who recently underwent a 10 day course, “Something just drew me to Vipassana. Initially in the first three days there is some body pain as we are just sitting and observing our breath as the body undergoes chemical changes. In fact some old memories come back to you and these are what we have kept within ourselves for several years. It’s like taking out what you have inside and develop clarity of though and sharpness of the mind. When you are totally disconnected from the outside world, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to introspect and gives you confidence as well as develops resilience.”


The world’s largest Vipassana meditation center, Dhamma Giri, is located at the Vipassana Research Institute at Igatpuri in Maharastra. Residential Vipassana course of duration of 10, 20, 30, 45 and 60 days are organized at this centre. All facilities for lodging, boarding, training and practice are provided absolutely free of cost at all other Vipassana centres around the world, expenses are met only out of the voluntary donations and services given by grateful students after they learn the technique at these centres, and wish to share the merits gained from Vipassana with others. The technique is usually taught at 10-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed code of Discipline, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. The course requires hard, serious work.

According to a spokesperson from Vipassana Research Institute, “There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one’s attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them. Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings. The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.”

Because it has been found to be genuinely helpful, great emphasis is put on preserving the technique in its original, authentic form. It is not taught commercially, but instead is offered freely. No person involved in its teaching receives any material remuneration.” Of course, the results come gradually through continued practice. It is unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved in ten days. Within that time, however, the essentials of Vipassana can be learned so that it can be applied in daily life. The more the technique is practiced, the greater the freedom from misery, and the closer the approach to the ultimate goal of full liberation. Even ten days can provide results which are vivid and obviously beneficial in everyday life.

The Specifics

The day begins at 4:00 a.m. with a wakeup bell and continues until 9:00 p.m. There are about ten hours of meditation throughout the day, interspersed with regular breaks and rest periods. Every evening at 7:00 p.m. there is a videotaped lecture by the teacher, S.N. Goenka, which provides a context for meditators to understand their experience of the day. The teaching is given through recordings of S.N. Goenka, speaking in English or Hindi, together with a translation into a local language. Tape translations exist in most of the major languages of the world, including English. If the teachers conducting a course do not speak the local language fluently, interpreters are available to help. Teachers receive no payment, donations or other material benefit. And if you cannot sit down, chairs are provided. A simple vegetarian diet is provided to all participants and all care is taken for those who have special dietary requirements and women who are pregnant. All students attending the course observe noble silence – of body, speech and mind and agree to refrain from communicating with their co-meditators. However, students are free to contact the management about their material needs and to speak with the instructor as well as clarify doubts if any. Silence is observed for the first nine full days. On the tenth day, speech is resumed as a way of re-establishing the normal pattern of daily life.

Advantage Vipassana

Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques and has been brought to India by the Principal Teacher S.N. Goenka. There are multiple advantages which everyone can derive if meditation technique is adopted. Vipassana meditation helps its practitioners live a moral and ethical way of life, to attain mastery over the mind and to cultivate purity of heart. The focus here is simple – the mind matters most. “That is why we must find practical methods to make the mind peaceful and pure,” opines a spokesperson from Vipassana Research Institute. One way to achieve inner peace is Vipassana or insight meditation – a non-sectarian, scientific, results-oriented technique of self-observation and truth realization. Practice of this technique brings experiential understanding of how mind and body interact. Every time negativity arises in the mind, such as hatred, it triggers unpleasant sensations within the body. Every time the mind generates selfless love, compassion and good will, the entire body is flooded with pleasant sensations. Practice of Vipassana also reveals that mental action precedes every physical and vocal action, determining whether that action will be wholesome or unwholesome. This technique converts people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation and from cruelty to compassion.

While the purpose of Vipassana Meditation is never to cure any physical disease, yet as a bi-product of mental purification many deep routed psychosomatic and other diseases are eradicated. Vipassana also gives mental strength to few determined people to give up unwholesome habits like smoking and drinking alcohol. Other advantages evidenced include reduced tension, anxiety, anger, agitation, restlessness, ego, irritation, fear, impatience, insecurity, shyness, rudeness, laziness, frustration, inferiority complex, nervousness on one side while on the other it help in increasing positive qualities like forgiveness, brotherly feelings, positive thinking, hopefulness, self-control, and self-confidence. In fact realizing the manifold benefits of Vipassana, various state governments, government departments and PSU’s have issued circulars in order to enable their employees to take a Vipassana course by even giving them special 14 days paid leave on duty. So what are you waiting for – go ahead and enroll for a course in Vipassana meditation – it is sure to change your life forever – and for the good!

Need more information? (Main Vipassana Meditation Website) (Vipassana Research Institute, does research on meditation and publications). (Global Pagoda a monument in Mumbai, has the largest pillar less stone dome in the world, where more than 8000 meditators can meditate under one roof).

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