04 Apr


Meditation Technique Vipassana and Research.


Vipassana is an ancient technique that is referred to in Rigveda. The practice is mental training for a healthy mind. It’s also known as insight awareness or mindfulness meditation. Vipassana refers to see things as they are or “insight” and objective being to be able to see the truth of impermanence, unsatisfactory and selflessness of the phenomena. That is; insight into the true nature of reality, to become aware of what is happening as it happens. The practice involves mindfulness of breath and thoughts which are used to gain insight into the true nature of reality. It’s an attentive listening, mindfully watching and cultivating the mind to see in such a way that leads to insight and full understanding. It’s a means to transform self through self-observation. 

Vipassana meditation consists of three subunits namely:-

1. Anapanasati (Mindfulness of breathing) – to observe one’s inhalation and exhalation

2. Vipassana (Insight meditation) – to watch the mind-body  phenomenon

3. Metta Bhavana (Universal Love & Compassion) –Wishing for the wellbeing of all beings

Researche Study:-

Mindfulness meditation:-

•  An Electroencephalography (EEG) and noxious laser stimulation study by Brown and Jones examined that long term mindfulness    practice reduces electrophysiological results of pain and pain anticipation.

• Research regarding the psychological effects of a 1-month meditation retreat on experienced meditators was studied.  The central idea of the study is to find the role of non-attachment through a controlled, non-randomized pre-post-intervention trial. Results showed improved mindfulness, wellbeing and personality even inexperienced meditators which could be due to non-attachment.

• A study shows less loss of grey matter over a period in time in comparison to non-meditators as well; regular meditation reduced the decline in cognition associated with healthy ageing.

• A data from the Indian survey found how meditation helped in estate planning decision.

• A 6-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program in comparison to usual care was studied. The research found significant changes in wellbeing, high energy levels and positive results in depression, anxiety and fear of recurrence.

• Research by Witek-janusek et al. based on mindful-based stress reduction for cancer patients studied with who practised mindfulness and to those who didn’t. Results of the study found improvements in biological measures, quality of life and optimising coping in the early stages of breast cancer. They had fewer mood disturbances less stressed even after six months concerning those who didn't take part in mindful meditation.

• In a randomised controlled trial by Monti and colleagues found that Mindful based art therapy helped lower psychological distress, improved quality of life for women with cancer.

• A study on MBSR along with diet - high vegetable protein and nutrients, low animal fat diet found to slow the growth of prostate-specific antigen in (PSA) for men with prostate cancer concerning the control group.

• A study by Kingston et al. on patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant found that six mindfulness meditation sessions of each one hour had helped them effectively to tolerate pain on the cold pressor test concerning control group who practised two-hour visual imaginary training.

• Mindfulness meditation-related to pain reduction is proportional to increased cognitive and emotional control due to the attitude of acceptance towards impending stimuli cultivated through the practice of meditation.

• A study over five years found that in chronic pain patients who did eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program had a better quality of life even up to four years after completion of initial training.

• Also in a dot-probe task of pain related threat words of fibromyalgia noted reduced avoidance of such words by MBSR program participants in comparison to FM patients( study and results in tally with that of  done by  Grossman )

• Garland & colleagues found that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) showed improved pain symptoms even after three months of training in the eight-week mindfulness program. Also, multivariate path analysis revealed the above results were due to the reduction of anxiety and emotional reactions to IBS symptoms and hence this technique is useful in clinical pain treatment.

• A case study of a 40-year-old lady illustrated that one could draw substantial benefit by deepening the benefits from highly structured group experience into individual treatment.

• Mindfulness-based strategies teach acceptance, non-judgment, non-reaction to thoughts, feelings and sensations. And this led to the use of mindfulness technique in the treatment of substance use. (The role of thought suppression, mindful meditation-alcohol use)

• Witkiewitz shares about results of three randomised medical trials on people suffering from various addictions who enrolled in the MBSR program. Results were tremendous and as follows: - significant reduction in drug use, heavy drinking and cravings. Improvement in mental health.

Vipassana Technique:-

To study the effect of Vipassana meditation on employees ‘Psychological Well  Being’ (PWB-i.e. “engagement with existential challenges of life”) suggests that practicing this vipassana technique helped maintain positive approach and conduct at workplace, better teamwork activities, reduce in conflicts, harmony in achieving goals that is a step towards  overall growth in business.

A study with 15 healthy male individuals from various professions who were practising Vipassana for an hour regularly for six months was carried. The research was to find the effect of this meditation on anxiety levels using Spiel Berger’s state and trait anxiety scale. Results were significantly satisfactory showing a decrease in stress and anxiety levels.

Anova and manova Analysis were done to analyse the effect of demographic factors on the meditators group. The result is studied using the score of each instrument concerning meditation course chosen for practice and number of hours practised done daily which indicate progress in meditation. The analysis results show the effect of demographic factors present on meditation outcomes.

In 2001 a study regarding addictive behaviours between individuals who enrolled in a ten-day Vipassana meditation and those who did not take the course was studied. Results show that there was a more significant decrease in attempts to avoid unwanted thoughts in the 10-day meditation practitioners group. 

A study in 2001 by Alan Marlatt and Sarah Bowen team regarding the role of vipassana technique in curing addiction with low-security prisoners in a rehabilitation centre in Seattle was studied. Mental health of those who underwent a 10-day meditation course had higher rates of recovery than those who enrolled in standard rehab treatment.

A study in Muscat a multi-ethnic populated city, during July 2001 regarding the effect of vipassana meditation on physical and psychological health showed that vipassana meditation might help mitigate psychological and psychosomatic distress.

Universal love And Compassion Technique:-

• Meta-analysis study on loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions confirm enhanced positive feelings and practising loving - kindness regularly yielded short term positive emotions. Interventions focused on loving-kindness proved to be more effective than compassion. The study had few limitations regarding like people from varied background needed to be chosen. Another research in 2011 on positive emotions by Cohn et al. prove enhanced positive emotions even 15 months after intervention and was in proportion to the time meditated daily.

• A landmark study in 2008 carried by Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues show that seven weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement and awe.

• A study in the year 2013 by Kok et al. prove physiological wellbeing enhanced due to loving-kindness meditation interventions concerning the control group. They showed the increased positive emotions-a result of baseline vagal tone.

• In a 2011 study by Lekberg, klimecki and Singer to examine the effect of loving-kindness meditation on prosocial behaviour found increased helping behaviour in a game context concerning a memory control group.

• Tonelli et al. in 2014 studied effects of brief loving-kindness meditation intervention on chronic pain which proved reduce in migraine pain and alleviating emotional tension associated with a severe migraine which was the immediate effect of just ten minutes of practice. Immediate results were increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia and slower respiration. 

• Hoge et al. (2013) found that women who have been practising loving-kindness meditation for quite some time had relatively longer telomere length(a genetic, biological marker of age which is decreased in length due to stress) compared to age-matched controls that are practising slow ageing and hence low-stress levels.

• In 2013 Klimecki, Leiberg Lamm and Singer found that loving-kindness meditation training increased empathy to others distress, increased positive attitude feelings and mood as a well similar response to those in pain.

• Shahar et al. study in 2014 found that loving-kindness meditation training helped in reducing self-criticism, depressive symptoms and improved self-compassion as well as positive emotions and had its effect till three months post-intervention.

• In 2014 Kang, Gray & Dovido found that six-week loving-kindness meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities concerning closely matched control group.

 Overall benefits of vipassana meditation are:-

• Purifies the mind

• Improved immunity

• Emotional wellbeing

• Mind-body balanced

• Increased awareness

• Attitude of acceptance

• Peace and self-control

• Positivity and stress-free

• Strength and attenuate pain

• Improved cognitive controls

• Self-awareness and non-delusion

• Inner peace and clarity of thought

Hence like Goenka, 1991 said we understand that; vipassana meditation brings about a fundamental change in the practitioner irrespective of socioeconomic variables.

In the words of few practitioners:-

Mindfulness- a skill one can cultivate (Kabat-Zinn, 1996)

A 40-year-old woman, “It helps me to connect with my inner wisdom. Meditation paces you – enough to be in touch with God…and God, lives in all of us.”

Unknown- “Learning to interrupt one's reaction pattern- then doing that over and over- can reshape behaviour. And if the behaviour is changing, “then the brain is changing”

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