Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vipassana: meditation to see things as they really are

I've heard of vipassana but never understood what it was until I saw two short documentaries on its application in prison systems. Thank goodness for libraries. In my local library they carried two DVDs about vipassana meditation in prisons.

These movies, called "Doing Time, Doing Vipassana" and "Changing From Inside", takes us into a prison in India and one in the U.S.A. and demonstrates the transformation experienced by inmates who went through the intensive 10-day meditation retreat. Both films brought tears to my eyes in seeing the intense inner turmoil in these individuals, and how it gives way in an emotional cleansing that seemed to bring clarity to their minds. Watching these I thought, "miracle". Then I realized what a miracle might be -- a shedding of obstructions in spirit and in heart that reveals the core of life, the essence of existence: love.

I have not taken a vipassana course yet but would love to hear of people's experiences in this. It sounds very deep, intense and uncomfortable, as most worthwhile cleanses tend to be!


Natalie said...

I have sat is a great opportunity (underestimate). I will spend the rest of my life practicing the technique.

Anonymous said...

I regularly attend Vipassana sittings and meditate (almost) daily. I've attended a retreat at the Insight Meditation Society and left thoroughly nourished. Please check out their website for further information:

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Thank you both for your insights!

Nancy said...

I have sat three times, the first time I had to leave after 6 days because I couldn't handle the discomfort. It was no easy task to sit with the contents of my mind :)The 10-day retreat was a process of cleansing that was not comfortable.

Vipassana has made me very sensitive to vibrations: situations and the cues of my body; and to examine them rather than engage with them.

I have also learned a great deal on how to accept reality as it is and to let things flow.

I would highly recommend trying one. It is not something to take lightly. It is deep, deep work with lasting benefits.

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Wow, thank you Nancy. :-)

Jeni said...

I actually just went to my first Vipassana Meditation course this summer. It won't be my last!

I believe the two movies you refer to use the meditation teachings of a teacher by the name of Goenka. There are retreat centers all around the world to learn this technique that work solely on dana- donation- so anyone can attend. The website is This technique is nothing new- it is Vipassana as taught by the Buddha.

I plan to go back for sure. It was not the 'vacation' I was hoping for since it was definitely hard work, but I came home feeling lighter and more free than I ever have after a week at the beach! Expect some discomfort if you go, but feel free to talk to the assistant teacher or the course manager about it. There are people there to help and if you can get through the tough parts it is so very rewarding.

By the way, I love your site! I made your brown rice crispy bars for a potluck last night and they went fast! Thanks!

tenzin jangchup said...

I had my first Vipassana sitting a few weeks ago. And all i can say is that it has to be the most wonderful experience of my life.

To put it simply the technique taught me how to see things clearly and to take responsibility for my own state of being.

I have never been so calm and at- peace with myself like I am now.

Here's a short poem I found in one of the books at the Center. It goes:

Being still
you both stop your worries
and start your peace.

with meta

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

jeni, thanks for letting us know what it was like for you -- and I'm glad you liked the brown rice crispy bars!

tenzin, thanks so much for sharing your experience, I hope it inspires others!

williams said...

Everyday people are reporting their wonderful experiences on health benefits of Yoga, the transformation of being, taking you beyond the here and now. In one wonderful session of Yoga, people get to practice a number of things, some Yoga poses (asanas) breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation and chanting. In Yoga you get to learn basic terms like Mudras, Bandhas and Chakras. Best of all, Yoga is fun and relaxing while, at the same time, being delectably challenging to beginners.Derived from the Sanskrit root “Yujir Yogey” meaning to unite, to yoke, to join, to put together, Yoga is not about mind over body. On the other hand, Yoga is about developing harmony between them. In Yoga, you use your mind to perceive (diagnose) and guide (heal) your body. Never control, let alone force it!

Thomas Fincher said...

Fran, it's really touching to see individuals undergoing a spiritual change. The ability to shed away all the pent up negativity in themselves, is in itself a very brave act.

Similar to Vapissana, Theta healing helps the individual to release the negative energy in his body. Theta healing believes that illnesses are bodily manifestations of the negative energy inside our bodies. Releasing such, can help us achieve total wellness- in mind and spirit.

Looking forward to your post about your own Vapissana experience. Thanks!

Vidya Gopal said...

I am a Vipassana Meditator. I learnt it from Shri S N Goenka. at the Igatpuri International Center in India. I have been practicing it since 2005 and its been very beneficial. Its a pure science of mind and matter. Its non sectarian. I ran away from home to attend for my first course and its been a new birth for me. It changed my life and the way I viewed things. My parents took their first course after seeing a lot of changes in me. I have also taken advanced courses and served at some other centres. I would definitely recommend trying it out. The course is free of cost and is for ten days. You will have to observe noble silence for nine days.