What Is Insight Meditation?

Barbara Brodsky: At Deep Spring Center we teach insight, or vipassana, meditation. The Sanskrit word “passana” literally means “seeing.” Vipassana is a deeper, clearer seeing. This practice derives from Buddhist teachings, but at Deep Spring it’s not taught as a religion, but as spiritual practice. The practice includes no religious ritual and requires no special religious beliefs. People are free to follow a form, such as bowing at the start of a sitting, if they choose, but there is no pressure to do so or not to do so. The meditation practices are harmonious with and enriching to any belief system.

Some people come to meditation simply looking for a practice to relieve stress. It can be that, but as we look deeper into ourselves, we do seem to find that spirit is included; thus, we call it a “spiritual practice.” The reason we call it “spiritual” practice is twofold.

Much of our stress and our scatteredness comes from not knowing who we are. We mistakenly view ourselves as separate, not knowing from deep experience that core which connects us to the earth and each other.

As Thoreau succinctly phrased it, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” What is that desperation about and how does it lead us into stress and suffering? Meditation is not just another attempt to fix the pain in our lives, to finally find a workable solution outside of ourselves that we may grasp at and lean on, but a way of finding the truth within ourselves. Rather than striving to get rid of stress and scatteredness of focus, we start to look at what separates us from our natural state of focus, calmness and joy. Then we’re not creating additional stress and fragmentation by continuing the lifelong patterns of grasping and aversion, but letting go of those patterns and coming back to our true selves, resolving our fragmentation. I consider this work to be inherently “spiritual”-not “religious,” that’s different-but spiritual.

Scroll to Top