Insight Meditation

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Insight Meditation Mean?

Insight meditation is a meditation which, along with samatha meditation, is a crucial part of the Buddhist tradition. It is called insight meditation because it is believed to give the yogi insight into the true nature of reality. Also known by its Pali name, vipassana bhavana, insight meditation guides the yogi to become aware of exactly what is happening as it happens. Thought to be the oldest Buddhist meditation practice, its method is outlined in the "Satipatthana Sutta," a teaching attributed to the Buddha himself.

The insight gained through insight meditation specifically refers in the Theravada tradition to an insight into the three marks of existence, which are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and the realization of the selflessness of phenomena.


Yogapedia Explains Insight Meditation

Unlike other forms of meditation that promote calming the mind and cultivating a more peaceful state, in insight meditation the yogi uses their focus to try to build greater awareness of the inner workings of reality. It can be thought of as a process of mental training that directly cultivates a state of increased mindfulness and self-discovery by breaking through illusions.

The breath is often used as the focal point for insight meditation as the continual change of breath flow can provide an anchor to the present moment as well as an insight into the impermanence of all things. Bodily sensations can also provide a suitable focus.

Insight meditation is generally regarded as a slow and gradual process, and the effects may take years to build. However, once the yogi breaks through all the illusions and sees the nature of reality for what it really is, they will have achieved the goal of liberation — and this will be permanent.

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Samatha Meditation

Vipassana Bhavana

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