May 24, 2021

This article is an introduction section of an acdemic article published by Dr Kishor on impact of vipassana meditation on anxiety and depression.

Vipassana is a form of meditation, which was discovered twenty-five centuries ago by Gautam Buddha. Vipassana means “insight” in the ancient Pali language of India, the language that Buddha spoke. It teaches to see things as they are. Although Vipassana contains the core of what later has been called Buddhism, it is not an organized religion, requires no conversion, and is open to students of any faith, nationality, color, or background [1]. It is the ethical and social path that derives from an exploration of nature within the framework of one’s own mind and body. Vipassana’s goals are liberation from suffering, and spiritual transcendence. According to Hart, healing-not disease cure, but the essential healing of hu man suffering-is t h e purpose of Vipassana. Among the various types of meditation in the world today, the Vipassana method taught by S. N. Goenka is unique. This technique is simp le, logical way to achieve real peace of mind and to lead a happy, useful life. Mr. Goenka learned the technique of vipassana from a master vipassana teacher called Sayagyi U Ba Khim from Burma (now called Myanmar). Through the work of Mr. Goenka and his assistant teachers in the past decade, vipassana h as s p re ad worldwide e. Vipassana is taught as ten -day residential courses that require students (practitioners are called students) to live in silence and full-time meditation. Each course is taught in an ambiance that duplicates and facilitates the goals of the practice. No conversation, reading, writing, radios, telephone calls, or other distractions are permitted. Students begin their course with vows to adhere to high moral conduct i.e., sila for the ten days. These are; to refrain from taking any life, to refrain from any intoxicants or sexual activities, to avoid lying or stealing. The students then progress for three and half days through a preliminary, concentrative meditation which focuses on breath. It is called “anapana” (i.e., awareness of respiration). This involves continuous observation of the natural flow of incoming and outgoing breath. Gradually mind gets concentrated on this natural activity and the person can exercise greater control over the mind. From that they proceed to vipassana proper, the third step which involves insight into the nature of entire mind and body phenomenon. This step is called development of “pana” (i.e., wisdom). Complete salience is observed for the first nine days. On the tenth day, students resume speaking, making the transition back to a more extroverted way of life. The course closes on the morning of eleventh day with the practice of mitta bhavana (i.e. good will towards other). The ethical, restrained atmosphere and the concentrative background make six and half days of silent practice of vipassana in noble silence and intense, profound, often life- transforming experience. Vipassana focuses on absolute interconnection between mind and body. During a ten-d ay meditation course, the unbroken atmosphere of hard work coupled to a supportive ambiance enables a flood of personal memories, hopes, and reveries to enter the students’ consciousness for the first time. A long with awareness of this liberated flood of mental life, vipassana also raise in to consciousness awareness of an equally compelling stream of bodily sensations that constitute the physical level of life Vipassana is p art icu lar ly related to e ither somatically or physically oriented healers. The practice of vipassana h as corrective influence of psychic disturbances. Vipassana has been taught in Nepal by Nepal Vipassana Centre (NVC) at Dharmashringa, Budhanilakantha , Kathmandu. To participate the course, one has to register the name at NVC. No fees are charged for participation. The present study was designed to study the impact of vipassana on negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression on students taking vipassana for the first time at NVC. It simply measured the change in severity of anxiety and depression according to some well-established scales. Such symptoms are present in general population at various degrees irrespective of the presence of mental disorders. Study has shown vipassana to be effective in reducing feelings of hostility and help lessness of prisoners. Also, vipassana was found to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, and depression of respectively diagnosed inmates in the same study. Studying the impact of vipassana on students from general population who came fo r the course for the first time was the interest of present design. Reduction in severity of anxiety and depression as impact of vipassana course on the students was expected.

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