Insight meditation is a method for reducing stress in our lives and awakening to our true nature. It is premised on two observations. First, that we experience stress or suffering when we resist reality, either by trying to hold on to an experience or by trying to push it away. And second, by paying attention and being present with our experience in each moment we can experience clarity and ease.
Insight meditation teaches us how to be present and how to investigate our experience. It is not based on a belief system; rather it is a way to see for ourselves if it is true that holding on and pushing away our experience leads to stress and suffering.
Insight meditation (or vipassana) is based on the teachings of the Buddha, but you do not have to be a Buddhist to do these practices. They are universally available teachings regardless of your spiritual tradition.
Insight meditation is the simple bare awareness of moment-to-moment experience. Bare awareness refers to an attention without judgment or commentary. It includes practices such as sitting meditation and walking meditation in which we learn to acquire steadiness of the mind and the ability to see deeply into the truth of our experience. Through sustained investigation we see the ever-changing flow of experience. This awareness leads us to accept more fully the pleasure and pain, fear and joy, sadness and happiness that life inevitably brings. As insight deepens, we develop greater equanimity and peace in the face of change, and wisdom and compassion increasingly become the guiding principles of our lives. It has been practiced since the time of the Buddha, 2500 years ago. It originates in one of the three great streams of Buddhism, called the Theravada tradition.
With wisdom and compassion we are able to engage in the world with peace and kindness.