Insight Meditation or Vipassana (Pali) is a simple technique which was taught by the Buddha and has been practiced in Asia for over 2,500 years. The practice begins by the focusing one's attention on the breath, which concentrates and stills the mind. The clarity gained in the practice allows one to see through the mind's conditioning and thereby to live more fully present in the moment. Philippine Insight Meditation Community is non-sectarian, although the ethics and traditions of Buddhist psychology are included for guidance.
The taking of the precepts of harmlessness is the beginning of Buddhist life generally and the retreat experience particularly. This creates an atmosphere of safety in which each person can explore her/his own inner states and mental processes. The practice develops clarity of seeing which allows grasping, judgment, and fear to fall away. One discovers and cultivates qualities such as compassion, equanimity, wisdom, joy, and moral integrity.
The ultimate aim of the practice is the ending of suffering in the discovery of an unconditioned and complete freedom. Insight meditation retreats are designed for both beginning and experienced meditators. Daily dharma talks and instruction in meditation are given, and individual and group interviews are arranged with the teachers at regular intervals. A typical daily schedule starts at 5am and ends at 10pm. The entire day is spent in silent meditation practice with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation. Meals are vegetarian and are prepared with health and nutrition in mind. Lunch is the main meal of the day, and a light tea is served in the late afternoon. The combination of this regular schedule, group support, silence, and instruction provides a beneficial environment for developing and deepening meditation practice.
To begin meditation, select a quiet time and place. Be seated on a cushion or chair, taking an erect yet relaxed posture. Let yourself sit
upright with the quiet dignity of a king or a queen. Close your eyes, gently and begin by bringing a full, present attention to whatever you
feel within you and around you. Let your mind be spacious and your heart be kind and soft.
As you sit, feel the sensations of your body. Then notice what sounds and feelings, thoughts and expectations are present. Allow them all to come and go, to rise and fall like the waves of the ocean. Be aware of the waves and rest seated in the midst of them. Allow yourself to become more and more still. In the center of all these waves, feel your breathing, your life-breath. Let your attention feel the in-and-out breathing wherever you notice it, as coolness or tingling in the nose or throat, as a rising and falling of your chest or abdomen. Relax and softly rest your attention on each breath, feeling the movement in a steady easy way. Let the breath breathe itself in any rhythm, long or short, soft or deep. As you feel each breath, concentrate and settle into its movement. Let all other sounds and sensations, thoughts and feelings continue to come and go like waves in the background.
After a few breaths, your attention may be carried away by one of the waves of thoughts or memories, by body sensations or sounds. Whenever you notice you have been carried away for a time, acknowledge the wave that has done so by softly giving it a name such as “planning,” “remembering,” “itching,” “restlessness.” Then let it pass and gently return to the breath. Some waves will take a long time to pass, others will be short. Certain thoughts or feelings will be painful, others will be pleasurable. Whatever they are, let them be.
At some sittings you will be able to return to your breath easily. At times in your meditation you will mostly be aware of body sensations or of plans or thoughts. Either way is fine. No matter what you experience, be aware of it, let it come and go, and rest at ease in the midst of it all.
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