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Vipassana Meditation - as the Buddha/Mahasi Sayadaw taught it

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posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 04:56 PM
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Hey all, I just got back from months of meditating in a cave in the jungles of Sri Lanka and wanted to share my new found understanding of meditation for those interested.

Intro

Meditation is often made to seem either more or less than what it actually is. The truth is, it is not about having some wonderful spiritual experience nor is it just sitting down and relaxing. It is, simply put, like a medicine that encourages the mind to return to its most natural and tranquil state; the present moment. In fact, the root of the word meditation is the same as medication, “medere”, meaning, “to heal”.

Meditation can be done in many ways, not just by sitting in some 'special' position. Although sitting and walking meditation are most commonly talked about, and although sitting meditation usually allows for the deepest and most profound meditation, our chief goal is to become mindful of the present moment throughout our waking hours so we should attempt to practice meditation throughout the day. You might say, “that is impossible, you cannot meditate at work” or “that is impractical, I don't have time to meditate all day, I need to be active.” Well, you don't know what meditation is or how to do it yet, so don't jump to conclusions so fast.

Again, meditation is not about adding anything to our mind, like knowledge or a religious experience, rather it is about allowing the mind to return to its natural state, awareness of the present moment, where no thoughts of the past or the future dwell. Since childhood, we have trained the mind to dwell in the past and the future, and this has helped us increase our imagination and intelligence capabilities, but it has also hindered our ability to find our way home - the present moment, where balance and tranquility reside. Without balance and tranquility there is no clarity, and without clarity our imagination and intelligence is rendered useless. So this is why meditation is so important, it is almost like a 'reset' button that clears away all of the filth and messiness that our minds accumulate from day to day.

It is important to understand that the mind cannot actually ever truly be in the present moment, as the mind itself is but a series of thoughts, which is always a product of the past. So don't over think this whole idea of 'the present moment', you'll be led in circles and go crazy. People use this term (present moment) only as a pointer, a 'place marker' for the mind to move towards and away from. The actual present moment is beyond the mind, beyond thought, it is the timeless raw awareness of experience before thought arises. Meditation does help retrain the mind to remain closer to the present moment though. Thus, through practicing meditation, our mind begins to operate (move outwards) from a 'point' closer and closer to this 'place marker', the present moment, and so feelings of tranquility, freedom, contentment, clarity and happiness are more prone to arise.

For the Christians who see meditation as only an 'eastern religious thing': “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21. How are you to 'find' this 'kingdom within' without directing your 'spiritual' inquiry inward?

Basic Foundations

Before we actually take a look at how to meditate we must first go over three very important basic principles that apply to our life. Understanding these 'principles' and accepting them as true is an absolute necessity for our meditation practice to succeed and bring about beneficial qualities. They are: impermanence, non-self and dissatisfaction.

Impermanence (anicca): All conditioned phenomena is impermanent. From the trees to the stars to our bodily sensations and our thoughts and emotions, everything is impermanent. That which is born (created) must die (expire). That which rises must fall. That which comes must go. Everything is in constant change, from one form or state to another. Understanding this and accepting it as true means we also understand that clinging on to one form or state, as if it was permanent, goes against the nature of reality and thus must result in stress and dissatisfaction (dukkha).

Non-self (anatta): Absolutely nothing can be considered to inherently have a 'self'. Absolutely nothing can be considered to inherently be whole. Everything is made up of smaller 'parts' or aggregates, which are themselves made up of smaller 'parts', and so on, and all of this is in constant flux, prone to the rules of impermanence (anicca). Therefore, on a fundamental level, it is incorrect to claim you or I, or anything else, inherently has a 'self'. I say “inherently” because through conventional knowledge we can assign the quality of a 'self' to ourselves or others, we can collectivize a group of parts, states or aggregates and assign a static title of “whole” to them, but fundamentally this is incorrect.

Understanding this and accepting it as true means we do not cling to notions of a static self. It would be fundamentally incorrect for me to say, “I am an angry person” or “I am a happy person” or “You are a good person” or “You are a bad person”, and so on. A more correct assessment would be to say, “This is a state of anger” or “This is a state of happiness” or “That action/thought is/was good/bad”. By clinging to notions of a static self we are going against the fundamental truth of impermanence (anicca) and thus again setting ourselves up for stress and dissatisfaction (dukkha).

Dissatisfaction (dukkha): When we do not accept the principles of impermanence (anicca) and non-self (anatta) as true, or do not live our lives in accordance with them, then we are going against the natural flow of all phenomena and setting ourselves up for disappointment, delusion, dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, sorrow and/or suffering. And since it is nearly impossible for us, as conditioned beings, to structure our lives absolutely in accordance with these principles (anicca and anatta), the Buddha said, “life is suffering” and offered an eightfold path to help us structure our lives in a way that is most in accordance with these principles. Meditation is the tool that helps display the validity of these principles to us most profoundly.




posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 04:58 PM
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Meditation

So let us now go through a brief explanation of how to meditate. Even though this can be done in any position, during any activity and at anytime of the day, we will be learning about meditation while in a static position (not moving):

The meditation method here is called Vipassana, as it was originally taught by the Buddha and later revised/clarified/expanded by Mahasi Sayadaw.

1. First let us bring our awareness to the position of our body. Are we sitting, standing, lying down, kneeling...? Whatever position we are in, we should reel our awareness in towards it through the repeated mental noting of, “sitting, sitting, sitting...” or “standing, standing, standing...” or “laying, laying, laying”. As we are mentally noting the position we are in, we should be mentally scanning over our entire body, from our feet to our head to our arms, in no particular order. Let us do this until we have a clear awareness of the position that every part of our body is in.

2. Next we are going to bring our awareness to any physical sensations of feeling in the body that are arising at the moment. Is there tingling sensation in the feet? An itch on our face? A shooting pain in our back? Do we feel particularly cold or hot? Whatever bodily sensations we are feeling we should mentally note them as, “itch, itch, itch...” or “pain, pain, pain...” or “cold, cold, cold...” and so on. Try not to immediately act upon the sensation when it arises, instead just mentally note it for a while until it goes away. If it won't go away then act upon it mindfully by noting what you are doing, “lifting arm, itching face, lowering arm, resting...” or “bending down, stretching back, rising up, resting...” or “rising, standing, walking, bending, lowering arms, grabbing blanket, lifting arms, covering body, turning, walking, stopping, bending, sitting, resting..” and so on. But our main goal here is to bring awareness to our bodily sensations of feeling. What bodily sensations of feeling are we currently experiencing?

3. Next let us expand our awareness to hearing, smelling, tasting, and if our eyes are open, seeing. If we hear a sound, a bird chirping or a truck driving past or a fan humming, we will note it as, “hearing, hearing, hearing...”. Similarly, if we smell, taste or see something, we will note it as, “smelling, smelling...”, “tasting, tasting...”, “seeing, seeing, seeing...”. The object is to be aware of the raw sensation, as it is, before the mind assigns a label and definition to it. This process should consist of no judging or categorizing, just awareness of the raw sensation.

4. If we do begin to judge a sensation (sound, smell, taste, sight, touch/feeling) as good or bad, we will note this as, “liking, liking, liking...” or “disliking, disliking, disliking...” For instance, I may have got fairly deep into mediation by now and all of a sudden somebody outside begins shouting, or my phone begins ringing, or my neighbors music starts shaking the walls, I may feel this is interrupting my meditation and become frustrated by this and so I will begin noting this as, “disliking, disliking, disliking...hearing, hearing, hearing...”, effectively turning it from a distraction into the object of my meditation.

5. Now we will deal with thinking, probably the most common distraction to our meditation. Thoughts of the past, “I wonder if I locked my car. Oh man, I forgot to pay my phone bill today. Work was good/bad today. I miss that person...”, and thoughts of the future, “What should I eat tonight? I want to go see that new movie. I should hang out with so and so this weekend. What am I going to do about this problem I am having?” Whether it is of the past or the future, all of this is just simply thinking, and so we will note it as that, “thinking, thinking, thinking..” And if we become frustrated with our wandering mind, we will turn this into our mediation object by noting, “disliking, disliking, disliking...”.

6. The final thing we will learn, which theoretically could have been first on the list, is the anchor point for our sitting meditation, the breath. Any time we get done noting a sensation, feeling, thought or the position of our body, or anytime we feel our meditation has become too unstable, boring or chaotic to continue, we will return our awareness to the rising and falling of the breath in the abdomen region. From the belly button to the solar plexus is the region we will focus on, bringing our awareness to the rising and falling of this region as each breath comes in and goes out of our body. We will note this as, “rising, rising, rising... falling, falling, falling...” or “rising... falling... rising... falling...”, however we prefer.



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 04:58 PM
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That is the basics of Vipassana meditation. It essentially comes down to seeing each experience for what it truly is, as it is happening, and honing our awareness in on it through the repeated use of mental noting. By doing this we are training the mind to remain at the root level of experience, the closest it can be to the present moment, and we are encouraging it to not spiral into more and more complex thought about the experience, which essentially just makes the mind drift further and further into the past or future, into chaos and confusion, where there is no true tranquility, freedom, contentment, clarity or happiness. We must understand and accept that the past is dead and gone, and the future does not exist, so the only place reality can reside is in the present moment. Set no goals, cling to no profound, pleasant or tranquil sensations or experiences, let no insights or realizations either disturb or empower your sense of self, and learn to just be present with reality as it is in the current moment.

Good luck!



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 05:14 PM
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reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


Hey thanks for sharing ! that is some great info im gonna save for later on . Wanna get the mediation thing down pact


I'm curious though any enlightenment ? or just pure meditation ?



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 05:34 PM
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reply to post by seedofchucky
 


Enlightenment? Sure, I guess. This kind of is just another word for me now, nothing special, as there is no accumulative point to reach where you can say, "ah ha! i've made it!". Even the elder monks there continued to do hours of meditation a day, because they understand it is a continual process. I guess you could say I found that the path of least resistance is the one that goes with the flow of impermanence and doesn't cling to anything, even to concepts such as meditation or enlightenment. The movement of the mind goes and goes, on and on, from one concept to another, from one point to the next, and it never ends until the mind itself is allowed to end.

When I first arrived I tried to force the mind to stop thinking and it only got worse. I already knew this was the wrong thing to do, but only eating a small amount of rice each day and sleeping in a leaking cave with six inch spiders and screaming monkeys and lizards kind of made me forget all the wisdom I previously thought I knew. In fact I almost hitch hiked back to the airport after the first week until one of the monks started coming up to my cave every day and repeating the word "impermanence" to me.

Everything is impermanent.



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 05:36 PM
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reply to post by LifeIsEnergy
 


Check out Leigh Brasington's website too for more and jhana stuff

Samatha is the practice of concentration on a single thing, vipasanna is the concentration on all things, samatha vipasanna is the concentration of all things being a single thing,.

Samatha contains vipasanna and vipasanna contains samatha, this and Leigh's work really helped but only a beginner.

Peace



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 05:55 PM
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reply to post by yyyyyyyyyy
 


Yea, samatha is good for increasing your concentration and focus. That is actually what I was practicing at first, it allowed me to fall into a trance like state where hours could fly by. But in the end one must always face the fact that everything is impermanent, even samatha and the jhana's, which is why the Buddha strictly taught Vipassana. While practicing samatha I found myself entering into very tranquil states but then they would end and I would be left feeling disappointed and the desire to re-enter that feeling would then arise. In some ways it is training the mind to become more rigid and stiff, and thus it promotes more suffering.

Vipassana, on the other hand, doesn't really induce the extreme tranquility that samatha does. But it does help release the mind from its own bondage and ignorance so in some ways it actually brings about more tranquility and balance, or at least for longer periods of time. I liken it to an alcohol and water, alcohol might bring about more extreme sensations of pleasure temporarily, but water is the only thing that will truly quench your thirst and relieve you from pain (discomfort), which is why you reached for a drink in the first place. Once you've excepted this as true there really is no more desire for alcohol (samatha) as you will know water (vipassana) fulfills your needs perfectly fine.

Peace



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 07:34 PM
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you Need to go to some jungle cave
so you can see that you can do it any ware at all.
it is just a state of mined.



posted on Feb, 10 2012 @ 09:01 PM
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reply to post by buddha
 


Yes, that is what I found out in the end. Although, I am quite sure that doing so greatly deepened my understanding of certain things that American societal life would not allow me to experience. There is a certain level of psychological security in knowing that your "regular life" is waiting for you once you stand up from the pillow. You can always stop meditation and go back to eating your favorite food, or talking to your favorite person or visiting your favorite website. None of that is possible when you are sitting in a cave deep in the jungles of a land on the other side of the globe. Meditation takes on a whole new meaning and level of importance when you place yourself in that position. It becomes the very thread of your survival and therefore you have no choice but to become well acquainted with it. That is why some people do such crazy things.


Peace.



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 05:22 AM
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Here is Cathrine Ingram speaking about the quiet that contains the mind;
youtu.be...

It may help people who are still trying to quiet the mind.
Meditation will help you find out how big you are. You are the space that allows all 'things' to be.


edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 05:53 AM
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I never really learned any particular meditation technique but have been meditating for years now. Any of the various forms or "intents", if you like, seem to take me over at some point and this is how I have learned what I know. It was more like remembering or being reminded than exploring or learning.

My experience with meditation started while taking a course in Shaolin qigong. Meditation was used "in between", sort of. In between the movement phases, we would stop and clear our minds. It was then that the most amazing things started happening. Once, I felt myself turn into a huge wall of liquid metal or mercury. Then I felt myself morph into a waterfall. All the sounds faded away from me and there was this huge rushing sound and I felt myself pure water, spilling all around me. Then I became a tree. I had to look at my hands, I was so sure they were branches. This was all in the span of 15 minutes.

I asked the sifu what it meant, what had happened (completely new to it, I had no clue at all) and he told me that it was my imagination, that sometimes the brain gets confused blah blah blah. After that he was only the instructor to me. He was not a sifu in any sense.

I had quite a lot of other experiences too, but when I asked about them he would simply brush me off and tell me to ask on a Net forum somewhere. I never really learned what any of it meant. I just assume it had to do with elements of my being that needed healing.

Since then, I meditate more than I practice qigong. For quite a while - a number of years, in fact - I would fall into spontaneous trances, even while I was driving. One would think that to be quite dangerous, but again that would hold true only to those who do not meditate. Awareness is greatly expanded, not reduced, in meditation. It got to the point that I was meditating on some level or another at all times. Now I'm not sure where I am. When attempt a deliberate meditation, nothing changes. I've started to wonder if I broke something. lol

Any thoughts, anyone?



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 06:33 AM
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reply to post by CosmicEgg
 


Your true nature is meditation. You have found yourself as the great nothingness (space) that allows all 'things' to pass through.
The act of sitting down and meditating is a tool that is used to find yourself. Recognize yourself as that.

Each time you tell your teacher that you imagine this or that he tells you to brush it off because he knows you are none of those 'things'. 'Things' are content and you are not content, you are what contains. But you are not a sealed container, you are the space in which all 'things' appear and disappear.
You do not need to heal your being, you just have to recognize yourself as being.
edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 07:17 AM
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edit on 11/2/2012 by CosmicEgg because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 07:27 AM
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reply to post by CosmicEgg
 


Nothingness is what you are. There is nothing wrong with nothingness, it is the only 'thing' that is pure.
The no thing that you are is the seer and knower of 'things'. 'Things' include everything from what is seen to what is heard, thoughts, emotion, chairs and people are all appearances to the 'one' that knows.
The 'one' that knows is presence. You are pure presence and you can only ever be present with this moment. Be present with what is present.
This moment and you are inseparable, they are one.
Qigong is about energy and is about knowing where the energy is. This moment is the only 'time' energy can be and 'here' is the only place energy can be. Qigong helps you locate yourself in the here and now.
edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 07:36 AM
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The 'being' does not need healing. The 'being' that you are just wants you to come home. You are wandering in the darkness when the being is in the light. You are stretched from past to future, stressed. See that you are here and now and you will see that you are whole.



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 07:53 AM
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edit on 11/2/2012 by CosmicEgg because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 07:58 AM
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reply to post by CosmicEgg
 


When you 'think' you 'exist' on this plane 'in form' you will indeed need to heal. The healing will happen when you realize that you are not 'form'. Your belief in 'form' is what needs healing. You are not 'form'!!!!
'Form' is 'thing' and you are not a 'thing'. Until you know for sure that you are not form you will suffer.

When you realize what you are there will be nothing to heal.


edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 08:06 AM
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edit on 11/2/2012 by CosmicEgg because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 08:15 AM
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reply to post by CosmicEgg
 


The truth is you ARE stuck here and now.
The lying mind will tell you all sorts of stories but the truth is you are never not here.
If you want to escape here and now meditation is not the way and imagining something else will not remove you from this placeless place of nowhere (now-here).
Meditation will bring you home to yourself and you will realize that you are ONE. Practicing meditation can stop the mind so you can see that you are not the mind. The mind is telling stories about 'then and when', but it can only tell them 'now'. You are 'now', you are presence awareness.

Within the space of now (within the space that you are) all 'things' come and go.
Even anger is just an appearance that appears and disappears in the vast space, no 'thing' can stay. Only 'that' which it appears in is eternal, 'that' has to be present before anything can appear.
I am 'that' I am.

youtu.be...
edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2012 @ 09:00 AM
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Meditation is not a state. Meditation is the stillness, the quietness in which all states appear.
Meditation is the ground of being. It is pure I before I shapes itself to a 'thing'.
edit on 11-2-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)




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