In a broader sense, विपस्सना has been used as one of two poles for the categorization of types of Buddhist meditation, the other being समथा(पाली) is a focusing, pacifying and calming meditation, common to many traditions in the world, especially योगा. It is used as training for विपस्सना, pacifying the mind and intensification the concentration in order to allow the work of insight. This is also sometimes discussed as "stopping and seeing." While समथा can peaceful the mind, only insight can reveal how the mind was uneasy to start with, which leads to प्रग्न्या (wisdom) and ग्याना (knowledge) and thus accepting, preventing it from being uneasy again।
The term is also used to refer to the Buddhist विपस्सना movement (modeled after थेरावदा Buddhism meditation practices), which employs विपस्सना meditation as its primary techniques and places emphasis on the teachings of the सतिपठाना सुत्ता। The primary initial subject of investigation in that style of meditation is sensation and feeling (वेदना)
विपस्सना is a पाली word from the संस्कृत prefix "vi-" and verbal root √paś. It is regularly translated as "insight" or "clear-seeing," though, the "in-" prefix may be misleading; "vi" in Indo-Aryan languages is corresponding to the Latin "dis." The "vi" in विपस्सना may then mean to see apart, or discern. Instead, the "vi" can function as an intensive, and thus विपस्सना may mean "seeing deeply". In any case, this is used metaphorically for a particularly powerful mental self-perception.
A synonym for "विपस्सना" is पच्काक्खा, "before the eyes," which refers to direct experiential observation. Thus, the type of seeing denoted by "विपस्सना" is that of direct observation, as opposed to facts derived from analysis or argument.
विपस्सना [in Tibetian language lhagthong] means in English as "superior seeing", "great vision" or "supreme wisdom." This may be interpreted as a "superior manner of seeing, and also as "seeing that which the essential nature is". Its nature is lucidity, clarity of mind.
Four Foundations of Mindfulness highlighted in the सतिपत्थाना सुत्ता; namely: काया (body or breath), वेदना (emotion or sensation), सित्ता (psyche), and धम्मा(mind objects). These phenomena differ from the खान्द्हस (aggregates) because the सित्ता factor is not connected to any aggregate, as it is the basic mood of the mind-body aggregate, while the धम्मा encompasses all mind objects that are fruits of कम्मा (i.e., the विन्नाना, सन्ना and संखारा aggregates), and also all mind objects that are not a fruit of कम्मा, such as the Four Noble Truths.