Vipassanā meditation is the systematic cultivation of seeing things as they really are.
For most of us, our default way of experiencing reality is habitually resisting the way things are. Whether we want something that is not here or we want to get rid of something that is here. Our habitual conditioning of pushing and pulling on experience obscures the true nature of reality.
All this pushing and pulling results in Dukkah. Dukkah, by analogy can be thought of as a wheel whose axle is not quite right, resulting in a dissatisfactory, not smooth turning of the wheel. Such is life.
In Vipassana we practice to be liberated from Dukkha. The liberation from suffering and dissatisfaction that keeps coming back into our life.
We do this not by trying to create any special, blissful or calm state. We do this by cultivating Wisdom by examining in our direct experience the nature of Mind and Body. This examination starts to deconstruct the misunderstanding that obscures wisdom. Freedom and happiness arise as a by-product of Wisdom.
Mind & Body
Vipassana meditation is to be aware of Mind and Body (aka Mind & Matter) at the present moment. This is quite difficult to do and the cultivation of basic meditative skills is essential.
To practice Vipassana meditation, we cultivate Concentration and Mindfulness in equal measure.
The ability to collect and gather consciousness onto one subject. We start with a simple meditation object like the breath or body sensations. As we get skill in concentration, it becomes easier to focus and calm the mind onto the meditation object or subject.
The ability to perceive phenomena of Mind & Body appearing in conscious experience clearly without reacting to them. It requires perceiving with clarity and equanimity. As we get skill in Mindfulness, we become better at quickly recognising Mind & Body as a sensory experience in the present moment rather than be wrapped up and entangled in content.
With the development of these meditative skills, we make our moment-to-moment conscious experience our object of meditation. This means that we are clearly aware of the phenomena of Mind & Body as they appear by nature moment-to-moment. We start to see the true nature of Mind & Body and their characteristic of Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta, sometimes called Emptiness.
Art of Living
Vipassanā meditation leaves no stone unturned. As we practice, Vipassana does not remain separate from our lives. In meditation we are simply creating the space and time to see what our Mind and Body is already doing for the rest of the day.
We face ourselves. We see who we really are. The things we like, and don't like about ourselves. We accept all parts of ourselves. The more we see, the clearer it becomes where the source of all our happiness and all our suffering begins. We learn this not by thinking or philosophising about it, we learn this by our direct experience.
As we start to deeply understand how Mind & Body works it opens us to see how we relate to everything in our life. Our friends, family, lovers. Our co-workers, strangers. Those we look up to, those we look down upon. Those we love and those we hate. The way we relate to our bodies and our thoughts.
This can be difficult. If we continue with honesty and humility, the slowly discover an art of living. One where wholesome thought, speech and action slowly replaces their harmful counterparts.