March 9, 2010

Vipassana meditation: out of the cushion and into the world ~

Vipassana Meditation technique

When in darkness, light is needed ~                 Thankfully every era produces an enlighten being who, through practice, gets to be fully liberated of the bondages of being human that cause so much misery; as a direct effect of such pure state of mind, the compassion and love arisen from the realization of impermanence results in wisdom left for all of us to practice if we are to choose to live the path to full liberation. Vipassana is one perfect example.

You have sit a Vipassana (to see things as they really are) meditation course, or you have sit several, and here you are again, breathing in and breathing out, observing the body kāyānupassanā, observing the sensations in the body vedanānupassanā, observing the mind cittānupassanā and observing the contents of the mind dhammānupassanā, to explore the truth about yourself.

To explore the truth about ourselves we must examine what we are: body and mind;
and of course, being an old student of Vipassana you know, at least at the intellectual level, that merely to feel the sensations within is not enough to remove our delusions; it is essential to understand anicca impermanence.

The practice of Vipassana is complete only when one directly experiences impermanence.

So here you are, again, dwelling observing the phenomenon of arising, dwelling observing the phenomenon of passing away, dwelling observing the phenomenon of arising and passing away, observing mind, body, contents of the mind, and sensations (Buddha said: Vedanā-samosaranā sabbe dhammā Everything that arises in the mind flows together with sensations.), here you are practicing to develop true happiness, true peace, real harmony, thankful for the opportunity to practice in a safe environment where all is provided: food, shelter, positive vibrations, silence, service; vibrating day and night in awareness of your own subatomic particles developing your equanimity…until the last bell is rang and you must go face the world again.

Ideally, the best would be to maintain that beautiful state of mind achieved after 10 days of full time meditation; but as it is, life is a busy train and the world a carrousel which you are part of and there is no way to stop it and get down. Life for human beings in this planet throughout history records as an experience of this kind of attachment or that kind of attachment, this kind of aversion or that kind of aversion, this kind of ignorance or that kind of ignorance; in short this kind of misery or that kind of misery. Of course there have been, and still are, historic moments of light, but…let’s put it simple: what are we thought in school about the history of our own kind? It is always about some kind of war between people and who won and who lost according to who is telling you the story (maybe that is why we call it his-story). When we try to understand why this happens over and over again, why there is so much misery in the world, why there is always people causing harm, it is unavoidable to observe that all starts at the individual level and when we are observing reality as it is we can clearly see that the troubles of man (mind) kind always start from the I, the me, the mine.

A Vipassana course is truly valuable only if it makes a change in your life, and a change will come only if you practice the technique every day.

Practicing Vipassana, is an opportunity to understand clearly the scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgments and sensations. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace. Millions of people of all races and all religions in both the East and West have learned how to practice Vipassana.

Even thought it all makes sense and it is an easy path to walk once a determination is made, to keep our practice vibrant day by day it is quite a challenge in our present society, therefore once you have planted the seed, continuity of practice is the only key to  success (with this technique on with any other technique that you choose best suited for you). Here is some advice provided by  teacher S.N. Goenka for all of us who are trying to keep our Vipassana practice unpolluted and in constant daily flow:

*Be happy
*Leave in peace and harmony with yourself and also with all others.
*Don’t miss your daily sittings each morning and evening.
*Whenever possible, attend weekly group sittings with other Vipassana meditators.
*Do a ten-day course as an annual retreat. This is essential to keep you going strong.
*With all confidence, face the spikes around you bravely and smilingly.
*Renounce hatred and aversion, ill will and animosity.
*Generate love and compassion, especially for those who do not understand Dhamma and are living an unhappy life.
*Practice your Sila (abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, wrong speech –lying, exaggerating, backstabbing, gossiping, etc – and abstain from all intoxicants.)
*Practice Anapana. If the mind is dull or agitated, if it is difficult to feel sensations, or difficult not to react to them, practice Anapana: keep your attention in the area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Remain aware of each breath as it enters or leaves the nostrils. If the mind is very dull or very agitated, breathe deliberately and slightly harder for some time; otherwise, the breathing should be natural. Begin with Anapana and then switch to Vipassana or, if needed, continue observing he breath for the entire hour.
*Practice Vipassana. Move your attention systematically fro head to feet and from feet to head, observing in order each and every part of the body by feeling all the sensations that you come across. Observe objectively; that is remain equanimous with all the sensations that you experience, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, by appreciating their impermanent nature. Keep your attention moving. Never stay for more than a few minutes at any one place. Do not allow the practice to become mechanical. Work in different ways according to the type of sensations you experience. Areas of the body having different gross sensations should be observed separately by moving the attention part by part. Symmetrical parts, such as both arms and both legs, having similar subtle sensations, may be observed together simultaneously. If you experience subtle sensations throughout the physical structure, you may at times sweep the entire body and then again work party by part. At home, sitting for one hour without moving may be helpful, but is not required.
*Practice Metta: At the end of the hour relax, letting any mental or physical agitation subside. Then focus your attention for a few minutes on subtle sensations in the body, and fill your mind and body with thoughts and feelings of goodwill for all beings.
*Outside of Meditation Periods give your full and undivided attention to important tasks before you, but check from time to time whether you are maintaining your awareness and equanimity. Whenever a problem arises, if possible be aware of your breath or sensations, even for a few seconds. This will help you to remain balanced in various situations.
*Dāna: Share whatever good you have acquired with others. Doing so helps to eradicate the old habit of self-centeredness. Meditators realize that the most valuable thing they have to share is Dhamma, so they do what they can to help others learn the technique of Vipassana. With this pure volition they donate toward the expenses of other students. This dāna is the sole source of funding for courses and centers around the world.
*Selfless Service.
*One path only. Do not mix Vipassana with any other technique. If you have been practicing another technique previously, try to choose whichever you find most suitable and beneficial for you, and devote yourself to it.
*Telling others about Vipassana: You may describe the technique to others, but do not teach them. Otherwise you might confuse rather than help them. Encourage people who want to meditate to join a course, where there is a properly trained guide.

Real wisdom is recognizing and accepting that every experience is impermanent. With this insight you will not be overwhelmed by life’s vicissitudes. And when you retain an inner balance, you will naturally choose to act in ways that create happiness for you and for others. Living each moment with an equenimous mind, you will surely progress toward the ultimate goal of liberation from all suffering.

Thank you S.N. Goenka, love to you all.

Be happy,

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