Insight or mindfulness meditation is a technique that originated in Buddhism as practised nowadays in Southeast Asia. This type of meditation also results in relaxation, but this is not the main goal of the practice. In insight meditation this restfulness expresses itself as an accepting and harmonious awareness of whatever is happening in or to us, and not as a temporary state of mind.
So insight meditation involves coming to awareness and insight rather than realising temporary calm and relaxation. While the practice of tranquillity meditation is very valuable as a way to de-stress temporarily, the principles of insight meditation offer more possibilities to ‘being able to take rest in what is’. They offer a tool to help us become aware of the sources of stress, to learn how to deal with them and to prevent problems in the future that are caused by unawareness.
Insight meditation means learning to observe directly, accept and understand physical, mental, emotional and sensory experiences in ourselves. This gives us an opportunity to realise more happiness and inner freedom, and to get a clear understanding of who, what and how we are. We might call it a process of awakening with the aim to be able to deal more skilfully with the vicissitudes of life. Moreover this process of awakening encourages the development of more clarity and purity in the mind, and intuitive wisdom.
The main point is developing mindfulness: recognising and noting, from moment to moment, what is happening in or to us here and now. It does not matter what philosophy of life we might have. It is more important that we are beginning to study our own life, without preconceptions or ideas. Therefore this study does not take place in an intellectual way, but by observing and noting what is happening from moment to moment, without analysing, reflecting, judging or condemning what is being observed.
Click here for a simple description of the practice of sitting and walking meditation.