21 May 2008
The genesis of the Vipassana technique of meditation can be traced to ancient India. It found its way back to the country of its origin from neighboring Burma after a period of about 2,500 years! Aimed at providing an effective way to enhance your emotional well–being, Vipassana literally means, “To see things as they really are”. It involves “Cleansing” your mind through self–observation, and eventually gaining control over your emotions like anger, greed, disgust or any other negative emotion, and restoring your mental equilibrium by overcoming stress and its myriad symptoms. This “Decontamination” of your mind is eventually bound to have a positive fallout on your physical well–being as well, since it is inextricably intertwined with your emotional health.
Several individuals suffering from chronic illnesses have been reported to have benefited greatly from Vipassana, inasmuch as that they have been able to cope with their pain and prevent erratic ups and downs in their emotional graph. Yashoda, a young girl who suffers from epilepsy says, “It used to get in the way of my normal day–to–day life, until I discovered Vipassana.” Having been able to gain partial control over her ailment by practicing Vipassana, she has been able to change the course of her life. Today, she has developed the courage to face up to the situation, keep it from getting out of hand and even take part in the normal activities of girls her age, barring a few like swimming and riding, which are in any case taboo for epileptics.
Another area where Vipassana has proved quite successful is in the process of the de–addiction and rehabilitation of drug addicts. De–addicted persons have invariably found it tough to remain ‘Clean’. This is where Vipassana could help a great deal. Prakash Tore, a former addict and now an employee of Muktangan says, “Alcohol had taken over my life completely, body and soul. After my de–addiction at Muktangan, I happened to attend a 10–day course of Vipassana which changed my life completely. All my anger and the tendency to react impulsively are totally under control now, and my family is very happy about it.”
Another individual who underwent the de–addiction program at Muktangan, Dwijen Smart, stresses, “I am a totally changed person now. The loneliness that used to haunt me initially, and which led me into the trap of drug addiction eventually, was something I could cope with after going through the Vipassana course”. Having relapsed into addiction once, Irfan Sheikh concluded it was the end of the world for him. But now, he is able to fight yet another possible relapse thanks to Vipassana. “It works wonders for me and I’m on the road to complete recovery now, having been able to resist slipping back into the gloomy world of dope.”
Apart from those plagued by either illnesses or addiction, Vipassana plays an important role in the lives of ordinary people as well. For some reason or the other, people find themselves under stress, be it work–related, owing to personal problems or even due to sheer boredom. Stress could lead to a host of other problems, and the sooner an individual realizes it, and takes adequate measures to deal with it the better it is. Vipassana being a great healer, has been proved successful in reducing stress and giving the person who tries it a stable, calm and positive frame of mind. “I have never felt more passionate about life or so good about myself,” says a glowing Shobhna, who has been into Vipassana since the last seven years or so.
Vipassana has proved to be especially beneficial to students appearing for their Board exams by reducing their levels of stress considerably, and improving their ability to concentrate and their memory. Inmates of jails have also benefited by this form of meditation. It has helped them cope with their situation without slipping into a state of depression or harbor thoughts of vengeance.
In conclusion, it would perhaps be in order to underline the fact that Vipassana by itself does not cure any ailments. However, it has immense potential to help you cope with your condition, whatever it might be. The “Code of conduct” in Vipassana stresses a clean life, advocates getting rid of negative thoughts, deeds and habits. And that, in any case, is a viable formula for a healthy and happy life by any standards.