Vipassana Meditation: Impermanence
Although standard vipassana meditation practice leading to insight about the true nature of reality does not recommend what I am about to do, I plan to do it anyway. This meditation center is all about innovation in practice and generalization regarding the benefits of meditation for both regular meditators and novices. Below I will guide you through a longer meditation dealing with your perceptions and experiences with impermanence. It is hoped that by being more direct in the guided practice, you may benefit prematurely. Although there is no substitute for regular daily meditation practice, especially when vipassana is concerned. Let’s begin. Do your best to remain on focus and deep.
- Seattle into your cushion or chair, and complete a few long, deep, calm breaths. Begin to pay attention to the actual impermanence in the breath, itself. In some ways the breath is like a metaphor for life, which arises at birth, lives on for a number or years, then falls into death. Meditate on this!
- Focus attention on the experienced reality that all things of materiality arise dependently, then stand for a while, finally falling into non-existence. This is change. This it it! This is the meditative experience here and now. Do your best to adjust to this rather harsh reality. Meditate on this!
- Likewise, now pays close attention to the reality that all mental phenomena follow the same exact path: arising, standing, and falling away. Even your immediate experience, as well as the perception of it, follow the same rules: arising, standing, and falling away. Meditate on this!
- The clear reality of impermanence, especially as we experience it directly, tends to reduce our dependency on attachments to sense-pleasures. Contemplate this, here now! Your dependence on sense-door pleasures for joy are a form of attachment, desire, craving. But it all falls away. Meditate on this!
- All experiences are impermanent. Focus deeply on the reality that most suffering we experience comes with the awareness that we cannot hold onto/keep experiences that result in joy and happiness. It is a good thing that human desire to be happy, but it comes at a cost. These experiences simply arise, stand and fall away. Thus, our very effort to become happy is, itself, a source of ultimate suffering (which is also impermanent). Meditate on this!
- Samsaric conditioning – that is chasing after/clinging to any sense-door pleasure we hope will produce joy and satisfaction is, itself, the source of suffering. Meditate on this!
- Likewise, all experienced suffering from all causes and conditions result in displeasure and dissatisfaction. It too is impermanent; that said, we hope in vain to avoid it. Meditate on this!
- Contemplate deeply the reality that your own displeasure, indeed dissatisfaction, is directly related to the human inability to produce outcomes desired and therefore attached to. This is one reason why Buddhist psychology offers an alternative: regular, long-term meditation practice that uncovers and helps us to experience these realities. Meditate on this!
- Recognize that formal Buddhist meditation practice requires that you follow certain Buddhist precepts, which encompass wholesomeness, kindness, compassion, ultimate reality, etc. These are good ways to live a life. Meditate on this!
- Now go into very deep meditation on the reality of impermanence; see what it brings up for you. Be with it! Realize there is no space, no difference, between the object of observation and the observer. Meditate on this!
- Prepare to end this meditation. Notice the feelings in your feet and legs as you prepare to stand up.
For more information refer to Catherine, S. (2011). Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 389-431.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness