Vipassana Meditation: Meaning, Benefits, Risk Factor

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla


7 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Vipassana is an important part of Buddhist Dhamma
  • It has been practiced since the 6th century
  • It teaches focus, detachment and acceptance of self

Meditation is a major part of our tradition and history. Vipassana meditation, in particular, has been around for centuries. It is an important part of the Buddhist Dhamma. It originated in the Indian subcontinent and has slowly gained global appeal. This is because more people are now aware of the many benefits of Vipassana meditation.

Vipassana meditation focuses 3 key practices, which are:

  • Centering yourself
  • Building focus
  • Being aware of your own self

During a Vipassana course, you train your mind to focus better and be calmer. This has several benefits like:

  • Increased concentration
  • Patience control
  • Stronger mental health

The act of meditation itself provides mental and physical health benefits. This is true with Vipassana as it emphasizes awareness and being present in the moment. Read on to learn more about Vipassana meditation benefits.

 Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana Meditation Meaning

Buddhism originated in the 6th century in ancient India. Dhamma is a Buddhist doctrine, and it means the ‘teachings of the Buddha’. It was passed on orally from Buddha to his followers. Vipassana is one of these teachings. The word Vipassana is derived from two root words [1]. ‘Passana’ means to see or perceive. ‘Vi’ is a prefix with a complex and layered meaning. It essentially means ‘in a special way. Put together, the word Vipassana means ‘to look at something with a precise focus’.

It is essentially a ‘quality of mind’ that you can develop through regular meditation. This is specifically linked to creating awareness. Another main focus is to help you develop the ability to see things as they truly are. Ever since the 6th century, Vipassana has guided many people and changed their lives.

Vipassana Meditation Technique

The main goal of Vipassana is to focus on the self. This means being able to detach from the changes and situations that occur in life. It teaches you to create a buffer between you and the situation. This helps you address life events objectively and understand different perspectives better. You gain awareness about yourself and the true reality of the things you face.

To practice Vipassana, you can apply to a residential program. A trained teacher will guide you through this type of meditation. A course generally lasts 10 days. It is different from many other types of meditation as there is no chanting or speaking involved. The entire program of 10 days is held in complete silence. This is part of the course. It is done in steps and a new step is added each day.

The goal is to build focus, concentration and to be in touch with your inner self. The cornerstones of Vipassana are:

  • Awareness of the present moment
  • Acceptance of your experiences

A study found that participants reported better well-being after a course. Their self-assessments stated significantly higher levels of physical and mental health [2].

Vipassana meditation at home

  • Sit in a comfortably position with your legs folded
  • Ensure that the surroundings are quiet and peaceful
  • Make sure your back is straight
  • Close your eyes and focus on your abdomen
  • Breathe naturally and feel your abdomen rise and fall
  • Be aware of this rising and falling sensation of your belly as you breathe
  • When your mind wanders, bring your attention back

End your meditation gently and try to carry the sense of awareness with you as you go about your day.

Additional Read: Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

Vipassana Meditation Benefits

Stress relief: 

Vipassana, like some other meditation practices, can help us cope with stress. Participants in the 2014 research underwent a Vipassana meditation session [1]. A 6-month follow-up indicated that individuals who finished the program had lower self-reported anxiety levels compared to those who did not. Vipassana participants, according to the research, also observed an increase:

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-kindness
  • Well-being

Research conducted in 2001 revealed comparable outcomes following a 10-day Vipassana retreat [2].

Decreases Anxiety: 

Vipassana meditation may help reduce anxiety in addition to relieving stress. Fourteen individuals underwent a 40-day mindfulness meditation course that included Vipassana in a small 2019 research [3]. Following the program, their anxiety and despair levels decreased. Mindfulness techniques, such as Vipassana meditation, can help modify areas of the brain linked to anxiety.

Enhances mental health: 

Vipassana's stress-relieving benefits may improve other areas of mental well-being. 2013 research of 36 people reported a substantial increase in well-being and a probable, although unclear, improvement in heart function after finishing a 10-day Vipassana retreat [4]. Individuals who practiced Vipassana had greater levels of:

  • Acceptance of oneself 
  • Competence 
  • Involvement and progress 
  • Positive connections

Encourages Plasticity of your Brain: 

Meditation, especially Vipassana meditation, may aid in increasing brain plasticity. The capacity of your brain to reconstruct itself when it detects the need for change is referred to as brain plasticity. In other words, your brain may generate new pathways to increase mental performance and well-being during your life. Frequent Vipassana practice may aid with brain development. 

Addiction treatment: 

Vipassana meditation might help those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The researchers speculated that the approach might be used in place of traditional addiction therapies.

Mindfulness-based training programs with Vipassana components may enhance characteristics including habit control, decision-making, and reaction inhibition, all of which are important for lowering drug use and sustaining sobriety.

Meditation can also help with stress, which has been connected to substance abuse. More study is needed, however, to understand how Vipassana might help with addiction management.

 Vipassana Meditation

Other Benefits Of Vipassana Meditation

There are many benefits of mediation, some of which are:

  • It helps you get in touch with your roots and your inner self.
  • The focus is on understanding that changes can occur and your response to them can differ based on how you are feeling. It teaches you to take things as they are and accept them. This does not mean simply accepting a situation. The goal is to strip away illusory layers and understand the truth of the matter.
  • The technique teaches you to detach from immediate emotional responses.
  • Seeing the true reality is the natural journey through Vipassana.
  • It trains you to be more aware.
  • This refers to the insight that Vipassana offers. It comes when you can really focus on what is happening right when it occurs. As you concentrate on it, you can start to feel serene and calm. It forces you to pay attention rather than be distracted by life’s many concerns.

Additional Read: Mental Wellbeing Tips

Vipassana Meditation For Beginners Tips

Consider these starting recommendations for obtaining the most from your Vipassana practice if you're new to it:

  • Listening to a Vipassana meditation tape for step-by-step instructions. On YouTube, you may access free guided Vipassana meditations.
  • Install the app, which is a Vipassana meditation software. It provides audio recordings, instructional papers, and links to local Vipassana courses.
  • For customized coaching, enroll in a Vipassana meditation course. Vipassana sessions are frequently offered at yoga classes and spiritual institutes.
  • For the initial sessions, set a timer. As you become more familiar with the exercise, gradually increase the time.
  • Turn off your cell phone and notify others in your family that you will be meditating to reduce distractions.
  • Be tolerant, especially if this is your first time meditating. It takes effort and time to understand how to concentrate and receive the benefits.

Risks Of Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana is a relaxation technique that has been used for thousands of years. It entails just monitoring your thoughts and feelings without criticizing or concentrating on them.

Though an additional study is needed, current data indicate that Vipassana might lower anxiety and stress levels which may have implications for substance use. It may also help with brain plasticity.

Beginning with 5- to 10-minute practices in a quiet place to learn Vipassana. As you grow acclimated to this type of meditation, gradually expand it to 15 minutes or longer. You may also attend recorded conversations or join a guided meditation class.

Mindfulness Through Vipassana

Vipassana encourages mindful responses through detachment. The importance of mindfulness mediation comes from the feeling of tranquility. This translates into a more mindful approach to life. The more you meditate, the easier this process becomes. Mindfulness is a product of understanding. It helps you avoid reacting immediately or abruptly to things.

Wellness is an important part of a healthy mind and body. Meditation is a core part of this concept. Learn more about mental and physical well-being at Bajaj Finserv Health. Find healthcare practitioners that can help you focus your wellbeing. Put your health first and do it easily with Bajaj Finserv Health!

Published on 19 Nov 2021Last updated on 12 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla

, MBBS 1 , MD - Psychiatry 3


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