Isis Monteverde: Vipassana Versus Samatha Meditation

Isis Monteverde is a life coach with 20 years of experience, having previously worked as a yoga teacher. This article will look at Vipassana and Samatha meditation, providing pointers to help meditators assess which type is most appropriate for them.

The further an individual delves into the world of mindfulness and meditation, the more they will learn about the vast amount of different techniques, traditions and practices that exist. What is commonly referred to as mindfulness today is deeply rooted in ancient Buddhism, enabling people to be happier and calmer and achieve improved peace of mind through concepts that may seem unusual at first.

Vipassana and Samatha meditation are both types of meditation that are practiced within the Theravada tradition. Vipassana meditation helps participants to achieve greater vision and insight, while Samatha meditation aides composure, steadying and concentrating the mind.

Vipassana, which translates to English as ‘insight’, is a concept that revolves around a clear awareness of what is happening in the present moment. The goal of Vipassana meditation sessions is to help participants better understand their lives, as well as the true nature of their personality, their experiences and the people around them. By gaining greater clarity, people who practice Vipassana meditation can come to terms with mental and physical issues that are impacting their lives and learn to let go of things that are holding them back. This form of meditation involves non-judgemental tracking of all of the five senses, i.e. seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching, as well as extending to thoughts and feelings.

Samatha meditation, on the other hand, focuses on quieting the mind to achieve states of great calmness and focus. Samatha is a Pali term that roughly translates to English as ‘tranquillity of the mind’. It forms part of numerous different Buddhist traditions and is widely regarded as the second quality of mind in Buddhist meditation, alongside Vipassana.

To accurately deduce which type of yoga is best suited to them, it is important for the meditator to first consider exactly what it is they seek to get out of their meditation sessions. If the principal goal is to achieve a state of improved calmness and tranquillity, Samatha meditation is likely to be the appropriate choice. However, for those seeking to gain greater insights into the inner workings of the mind and body, a deeper form of insight meditation built around the values of Vipassana would probably be more effective. Vipassana is particularly helpful for people who are keen to cultivate acceptance and let go of negative thoughts and feelings.