What is Insight Meditation?

Introduction to Insight Meditation

Insight meditation can help us clearly understand the nature of our mind. Such a direct personal experience is more valuable than relying on others’ theories and opinions. When we know something for ourself beyond doubt, we can feel deep calm. Insight meditation is a practice that helps the mind to develop calmness through attention. We can also get insight through reflection.

How to Practise Insight Meditation

Find a time and place where you are calm and free from disturbance. Sit in a comfortable position. Start meditating for about 15 minutes to begin with. Focus your mind on your body. Move your attention up and down your body. Notice any tension and other sensations objectively. Ask yourself about your feelings. Then, relax a bit. As you become aware of your mind, you will understand that doubts, memories, daydreams and reflections constantly flow through it. Anchor your wandering mind by returning your attention to the body.

Continue ‘body sweeping’ and move your attention from the head to the toes. Notice sensations such as sensitivity, numbness, pulsing and warmth. Your mind will become aware of even lack of sensation in some body parts. This sustained investigation is known as mindfulness. It is an important tool in insight meditation.

Standing and Walking Meditation

If sitting meditation makes you feel dull, you can try to practise mindfulness while standing or walking. Walk at a gentle pace and be aware of your physical sensations. Keep your mind from wandering by focusing on your feet, and its sensations while touching the floor. When we practise meditation, we learn about the wandering nature of our monkey mind. But, we need to be patient and have the resolve to persevere.

Cultivating the Heart

Insight meditation can teach us tolerance and patience. We become more friendly and caring towards ourself and others. How do we share this goodwill with others? This practice is called cultivating goodwill. While breathing, reinforce positive thoughts and affirm to yourself by saying the word “Peace”. Wish for the well-being of others by affirming “May all be well”.

Choiceless Awareness

Another useful insight meditation technique is practising choiceless awareness. First, calm your mind by following any of the above methods. Then, objectively observe your mental sensations and images as they flow through your mind. Do not praise or criticize. Just notice your aversions, fascinations, or feelings of tranquility, restlessness, happiness, anxiety or uncertainty. This practice can teach us about the inherent impermanence, dissatisfaction and impersonality of our mind.

Living Insightfully

Insight meditation can open our attitude and help us understand how the mind reacts to sickness or pain. This understanding can alleviate the stress caused by unfavorable physical and mental phenomena. Insight meditation can thus give us peace of mind by making us reflect on the events of life with open-mindedness and clarity.

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