If you are new to meditation and are not sure yet which technique suits you the most, or if you’re trying to decide where to go for your first meditation retreat, then this short article about two of the most popular meditation techniques might be helpful for you.

What is Vipassana?

Vipassana means “insight meditation” and is a contemplative meditation that involves aspects of mindfulness meditation as well as breathing exercises. It is one of the most popular forms of meditation that involves a couple of different techniques that are all aiming on bringing more awareness of the present moment as well as insights on the nature of reality.

What is Hridaya?

Hridaya Meditation is also called the “meditation for the revelation of the spiritual heart” and is aiming on the direct experience of our true nature. The Hridaya teachings explain that although there are many different forms and appearances in this universe, the very source of all is pure consciousness and love. By meditation on the “spiritual heart” we can experience this love and consciousness within ourselves and in this way bring more peace, love and joy into our being.

Differences between these meditation retreats

Vipassana meditation is aimed on clearing and developing the mind, to be more aware of the present moment and gain insights on the impermanence of life.  Hridaya is aiming more on the direct experience of the heart, love and consciousness.

History and Teachers

Vipassana meditation is coming from the Theravada Buddhist tradition that is mainly practiced in Thailand and Southeast Asia. There are a couple of different traditions with slightly different techniques, most of them include mindfulness meditation and simple breathing meditation. The most famous being Vipassana in the tradition of S.N. Goenka from Burma with Vipassana Centers and 10 Day meditation retreats in nearly 200 places on earth.

Hridaya Meditation is more recent as a tradition, although the techniques and teachings were present for many thousands of years. Many of the teachings are from the Indian traditions of Advaita Vedanta, Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism. They were put together by Sahajananda who founded the international Hridaya Yoga and Meditation School that is growing rapidly with centers and retreats in about 20 countries worldwide.

Which meditation technique should I practice?

There is a saying that say “as many monks as many paths” which basically means that as everyone is different, there is not one single practice that is the best for everybody.

Therefore everyone has their own path. In general you can say that the best meditation technique is the one you actually practice as every meditation brings some benefits. In the long run however it is good to make a choice and stick to it.

As Vipassana is good for clearing the heart and bringing more presence and awareness into your being, this is helpful for people who are more of an analytic, mental nature while Hridaya meditation is more of a meditation for heart centered people that like to go beyond the mind and live from the heart. In order to really find out what suits you, try them both out and see what feels better.

Where can I learn it?

Vipassana and Hridaya Retreats are taught on a regular basis in many countries. All the info about Vipassana retreats can be found in the international website http://www.dhamma.org/. As Hridaya retreats are quite recent there are not as many centers yet. The best places to start are Mexico, Peru and Guatemala. All the info about the international events and retreats can be found on http://hridaya-yoga.com/.