Vipassana Meditation Practice – Introductory Journey 1
This is the first of a series of posts on vipassana-based meditation practices. The introductory journey set will not be pure vipassana; rather this set of meditations will be about practice with core principles and learning experiences in regular vipassana meditation. Rather than explain background information, I will guide a brief meditation on central principles and experiences within the vipassana framework of meditation. This process will be more difficult than simply verbally presenting information; however, it will also be far more effective relative to experiencing.
- Begin by settling in on your cushion or chair. Focus on calm, deep, slow breathing practice. Notice closely the movement of air into and out of the body. Pay closer and closer attention to this experience with the breath. Become highly intimate with the experience.
- Using your imagination, contemplate about insights or flashes of insight related to the reality of impermanence of all things and experiences. Go to that reality now and meditate on it with close attention. This is a difficult process, but approach it with a strong intention.
- Now move your attention to misperception of relative reality. Focus on the necessary knowledge required to understand via meditative experience that things are really NOT as they appear to our minds. Liberating mind and natural mind may allow you to be in true experience with a more true reality of being human. Our happiness in life will depend on how we learn to use our mind to understand at deeper levels the true nature of things and impermanent reality.
- Now shift gently to the topic of greed, and how our sense-pleasure desires (attachments, cravings) provide us with short-term pleasure but NO long-term happiness. Such happiness based on grasping at sense-pleasures cannot last long. Impermanence is at work once again. Thus a general dissatisfaction is the outcome.
- Meditate on your own reality of holding on to and clinging to sense-pleasures as a key source of your own suffering. Grasping happiness cannot last long. Be with that reality now.
- Buddhist psychology, especially specific Abhidhamma teachings, allow us to better understand HOW the mind work, and HOW all experience is broken down into smaller and smaller irreducible components all the way to atoms and beyond. In the end of this analysis, we experience emptiness of independent arising of things/experiences and the dearth of concrete separation among all things and experiences. This is a difficult reality to grasp, intellectually, let alone experientially.
- The endless search for sense-pleasures to make us happier, as well as the endless effort to avoid pain and suffering, end in the same place – more suffering. Conditioned life in samsara, where we spend most of our “awake” time trying to gain satisfaction via experiencing sense-pleasures and avoiding pain and suffering, fails all the time. So WHAT, then, is the path to joy and happiness – or at least a sense of personal satisfaction in life? Contemplate this for yourself.
- Vipassana may begin with deep meditation on the breath, sensations, thoughts, and the letting go of the same. However, it certainly does not end there. As we learn to let go of concepts and mind in deep vipassana meditation, we begin to see glimpses of a more ultimate reality. This insightful experienced knowledge leads us to true impermanence, emptiness (non-voided emptiness), dependent origination, and ultimately to no-self as the experiencer. There is no space between the object of attention the the experiencer of it.
- Now very slowly bring your attention and concentration back to the here and now – in this room. Take a few deep, slow, calm breaths. Prepare to end this meditation.
For more information refer to Catherine, S. (2011). Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 253-431.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness